Weekly Field Update – 7/26/21

Statewide

The SC Specialty Crop Association is offering a new grant opportunity, the Enhancing Crop Packaging Cost-share Program. With this new cost-share program, growers can receive reimbursement up to $1,800 per grower for packaging needs. All that is required in addition to the application are copies of receipts used for purchasing packaging materials. You will also be required to fill out two surveys, one initially and one 12 months after submitting the application. All information is confidential. For more information, contact LauraKate McAllister. The application can be downloaded below.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We are in a summer weather pattern with warm, muggy days and occasional thunderstorms. Most crops have finished up or are in the process. Now is a great time to sit down and do some crop planning and field rotation planning. I collected many soil and root tissue samples lately and had them analyzed for nematodes. I was surprised at how many nematodes were present in the fields. Nematodes can interfere with growth, cause stunting, and lower overall yields. Sometimes the symptoms of nematodes can be very discrete so sampling right now is the best way to get a baseline of your populations and how to properly manage and rotate fields. If left unchecked, thousands of dollars are wasted before the first seed is planted into a field.”

Significant galling from root knot nematodes on a cucumber seedling. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It was another fairly mild week with high humidity and some pretty decent rain. Not much has changed on the disease front. We’re still seeing plenty. Growers are still prepping fields for planting fall crops. Some fall cucurbits and brassicas have been planted already. More are on the way. As soon as brassicas go in the ground, start scouting for worms. Remember, we can perform bioassays to screen for insecticide resistance in diamondback moths populations. Reach out to your local fruit and vegetable agent when you start seeing worms to schedule one.”

Bacterial spot is common on tomatoes right now. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Recently planted kale is growing well. Start scouting for worms as soon as you plant brassica crops. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are harvesting well, with good volumes of squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, butterbeans, peas, tomatoes and okra. Sweet corn is beginning to wrap up. Late season blueberries are still being harvested in some volume, but will be finishing soon. Muscadines are sizing well. Vineyards that were only slightly affected by the Easter freeze are looking good and should have a good crop. Vineyards that were more significantly affected by the freeze are very short on crop this year. Grape root borer traps in muscadine vineyards are starting to catch moths in all locations. Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) trap captures (in blueberries) have dramatically increased over the past few weeks, showing that even in late season when fruit is becoming less and less plentiful, the fly is still very active and must be managed.”

Bucket trap baited with the Grape root borer (GRB) pheromone lure in muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Where we did not see significant damage from the Easter freeze, there is a good looking crop of muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “I identified a major scale problem on peaches. A grower from middle part of state called about red spots on peaches. Earlier in the year across the whole state we had red spots on leaves. We found prunus necrotic ring spot on all of those samples last year but we are still unsure of the origin. In this case, it is something much different. This is an insect that feeds on the fruit and the tree itself. The adult stage of this insect doesn’t move but the crawlers do. After consulting with Dr. Brett Blaauw, regional entomologist for Clemson, the grower decided to go ahead and treat now. On Friday, he sprayed Movento at the label rate. There is great concern because with this high of a population, the life of the entire trees at risk. The plan is to follow that application with chlorpyrifos and oil at low rates after the leaves drop. You have to be careful when doing this as the oil can damage the next years bud crop if temperatures are too hot. We will be trapping using black electrical tape wrapped around the limbs then double sided scotch tape around that. We will then look for the crawlers on the scotch tape. This ensures money isn’t wasted killing a pest that has already been controlled.”

Red spots have been common on peaches this year. Photo from Andy Rollins.
In this close up of the bark on a peach tree, you can see the tiny, black and grey colored scales. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 7/19/21

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath’s remarks on fungicide stewardship:

Growers who are applying newer fungicides that are pre-mixes of two active ingredients do not need to add another fungicide to the tank mix. Pre-mixes can easily be identified by the two FRAC Codes on the label in the top right corner. Please consider the following points:

Quadris Top contains two fungicides: a group 11 and a group 3.
  • Many newer fungicides are sold as pre-mixes to reduce the risks of fungicide resistance in fungal and water mold pathogens. Mixing two active ingredients often is a way to prevent or slow resistance development, as long as both active ingredients work against the same disease.
  • Sometimes two active ingredients are mixed to expand the range of diseases controlled. For example, Quadris Top controls both anthracnose (the Quadris part) and gummy stem blight (the “Top” part, which is Inspire).
  • Mixing more than 2 pesticides, whether they are 3 fungicides or 2 fungicides plus an insecticide, increases the risk of pesticide injury (burn). Risks may be greater if a spreader-sticker is added, or when air temperatures are above 90 F.
  • Adding another fungicide to a pre-mix fungicide increases fungicide costs, often without increasing disease control.

Growers should contact their Extension agent before adding another fungicide, even a protectant, to a pre-mix fungicide to be sure it’s really necessary.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Not much has changed in the midlands over the last week. We’ve received some scattered rain and it has been warm and humid. As a result, we are still seeing disease issues. We’re still picking tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet corn, and a few greens. We’re at an in-between stage in several fields where the spring crops have been finished and folks are preparing to plant fall crops. Some have already started fall cucurbit plantings. For anyone planting strawberries this fall, if you are still deciding which varieties to try, take a look at the NCSU’s 2020/2021 variety comparison data (pages 9 and 10).

Disease development like this anthracnose of watermelon is still being favored by the weather. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are looking pretty good across the Pee Dee. Fields that have received rain or are irrigated look very good. Fields that have missed the rain are a bit drought-stressed. Sweet corn, peas, butterbeans, tomatoes, squash, watermelons, cantaloupes, and cucumbers are all being harvested in good volume. Okra is just beginning to be harvested well. Growers are still fighting cucurbit downy mildew (CDM) on cucumbers. Fields that have been sprayed with fungicides for CDM (Orondis Opti, Gavel, Ranman, and Omega) are relatively clean and producing well. Fields that have not received those products are in severe decline. Cowpea curculio is still being a challenge. Some growers have asked about adding PBO8 (Piperonyl Butoxide) synergist to their insecticide application. Research has shown some efficacy, so it does help. But, it is not the silver bullet that everyone is looking for. There really is no alternative to having a robust spray program, spraying every three to five days starting prior to bloom.

Many varieties of blueberries have already finished up, with only mid-late and late rabbiteye blueberries going now. Blackberries have finished up, as well. Summer primocane tipping and floricane removal has begun. Be sure to apply a broad-based fungicide to all open wounds/pruning cuts to prevent disease development (I.e. cane blight, etc). Muscadines are sizing up pretty well. Grape root borer traps have been placed in vineyards, but no moths captured yet.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things in the Upstate were a little wet the last few days and it looks like showers will continue into the middle part of the week at least. Continue preventative measures for disease control and if/when a plant seems too far involved, remove and dispose of the entire plant to prevent further spread. Squash vine borer has been one of the continued problems in market garden production in the last 2 weeks. At this late point in the season and lifecycle, monitor plants closely and as soon as frass is seen, carefully cut the stem longitudinally and remove/kill the larval stage of the borer. You can mound soil on the cut part of the stem to help encourage new root growth. If done early enough, plants can continue to thrive despite the slice in the stem. New plantings of cucurbits set out in the last week or so should mature after the adults have finished laying eggs, but monitor closely for any wilting. Crop rotation, row covers, traps (yellow bowl of water), and pesticide applications can also be used as a part of a good IPM program. Check out the crop handbook for more specifics. 

Organic Upstate vegetable production. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “We are having thrips issues on 3 crops peaches, pepper and cucumber. Thrips as seen in the picture cause surface damage to the outside make it aesthetically less appealing and marketable. On pepper they damage the leaves and can transmit viruses to the plant (on cucumber also). They are much worse in greenhouse and high-tunnel settings.  I have been recently concerned about presence of chili thrips and I am waiting on definite identification. This is a good website about this new pest. I also found a rare disease called foot rot of squash in the upstate. It was identified by Dr. Tony Keinath. Rotation is very important with all of our vegetable crops. We are picking some excellent quality peaches in the upstate. Cold damage has limited our wholesale picking.”

Thrips injury to peaches. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Fusarium foot rot of squash. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 7/12/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops are generally coming to market with good quality from cucurbits through corn, tomatoes and peppers. Be on your guard for foliar diseases, given the temperatures and humidity there are a large number of diseases present from anthracnose, powdery and downy mildew, and alternaria. Fungicide applications will help.to manage diseases applied in a timely manner.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The tropical storm brought some wind and heavy rain in some parts of the Lowcountry. We received 3.86 inches at the CREC in Charleston. Most fields have dried out and things are back to normal. I have seen an increase in bacterial spot on tomato and a rise in the spider mite population. Remember that using pyrethroids (group 3 insecticides) (Brigade, Bifen, Karate, Warrior, Tombstone, Mustang Maxx, etc.) will kill spider mites but will also kill all beneficial insects. In most cases, spider mite numbers are higher 5-7 days after a pyrethroid spray than they were before. There is also resistance to some pyrethroids in spider mite populations. Bottom line…don’t use pyrethroids to control spider mites. We have plenty of registered, spider mite specific products in our tool box.

A spike in spider mite numbers can be seen when pyrethroids are used. Choose wisely. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Tropical Storm Elsa came through the midlands in the early morning hours Thursday and brought 1.3 inches of rain (at my house) with it. Disease is still the big story here in the midlands. It’s been very warm and humid and we’re still seeing plenty of downy mildew, powdery mildew, anthracnose, and bacterial spot. For anyone planting strawberries this fall, now is the time to start soil sampling. Some folks held onto their strawberries well into June this year. If that was you and you plan to replant the same fields this fall, start removing plastic and discing ASAP to destroy the crop residue.”

Plenty of disease such as powdery mildew of cucurbits here in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Weekly Field Update – 7/6/21

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “Basil downy mildew was found in mid-June in Charleston. Symptoms start as faint yellowing of leaves, which eventually show brown spots surrounded by yellow areas. To see the spores, look on the bottom of a symptomatic leaf. Sometimes it helps to hold the leaf up to a light source (but don’t look directly into the sun). Seeing spores is useful to rule out nutrient deficiency or sunburn on leaves. Growers who use conventional fungicides should rotate two of these three labeled fungicides: Revus, Presidio, or Ranman. See page 203 of the 2021 Southeastern U.S. Vegetable Crop Handbook. Potassium phosphite products can be used as a preventative and by home gardeners. I do not know of any cultivars that truly are resistant or any organic biopesticides that are effective. Once downy mildew spores arrive in South Carolina, the disease will be present until frost kills the basil host.”

Basil downy mildew symptoms on the upper side of the leaves. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.
Basil downy mildew spores developing on the underside of a leaf. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Crops are still looking good coming off. Typically July 4th week is our busiest week in the field. One thing I saw this past week in some melon fields was crown decline. Crown decline is characterized by a yellowing of the crown leaves which makes the plant look weak overall. The disease can be mistaken for a nutrient deficiency. This disease is important to diagnose because yields can be reduced and fruit quality can be impaired at the middle to end of the season which can impact your bottom line. Read up on this disease and management options here. I am seeing some gummy stem blight and anthracnose in watermelon right now as well. Get your fungicides out before the tropical storm this week.

Crown decline appears late in the season and can be confused with a nutrient deficiency. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Things are progressing well in the midlands. Temperatures have been pretty mild and we saw about half an inch of rain at my house Thursday afternoon. It looks like Tropical Storm Elsa will be coming through Thursday, so plant diseases will continue to be our major issue for at least a little while longer. I’ve been seeing plenty of downy mildew, powdery mildew, anthracnose, and bacterial spot over the last week. Japanese beetle numbers are pretty high right now also.”

Japanese beetles feeding on developing muscadines. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Sweetpotato vines are covering the beds. We’re starting to harvest processing tomatoes. We’re planting fall butterbeans and peas and picking processing peppers for the second time.”

Weekly Field Update – 6/21/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Given the rainfall and humidity levels, we are seeing increases in foliar and fruit diseases on a range of crops. This includes cottony leak in cucumbers, anthracnose in pepper, tomatoes, and cucurbits. Also, please be aware cucurbit downy mildew is very active now. As a result, it is going to be really important to maintain fungicide programs in both a timely manner and to be robust. That being said, we have some great quality melons, both cantaloupe and watermelons, coming to harvest, as well as good volumes of quality peaches, blackberries, and a host of other vegetable crops.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some heavy downpours this past week which has beat some crops up. Hopefully everyone got their fungicides out ahead of the rain. The CREC hosted their annual Field Day last week. A special thanks to all that attended. I learned a good bit about herbicide carryover damage and direct herbicide damage from Dr. Matt Cutulle. I think the cool weather this spring made our plants and herbicides have some unusual reactions.”

Plant specimens showing herbicide carryover damage at the CREC Field Day. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “After a pretty dry week, Tropical Depression Claudette came through over the weekend and dropped a lot of rain (a little over 3 inches at my house). More rain is forecast for this week, so again, be sure to stay on top of fungicide sprays. This past week we started seeing bacterial spot on tomatoes, anthracnose fruit rot on peppers, and Southern blight remains active on several crops. We’re getting close to the end for the spring brassica crops. Tomatoes, squash, zucchini are being harvested and sweet corn will be coming soon.”

Anthracnose fruit rot on bell pepper. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Thank goodness the rain was not as heavy as predicted for the tropical storm. We are fighting belly rot and downy mildew on pickles with all the possible controls. Hard to get sweet potatoes laid-by and fertilized with the wet conditions. Snap beans are doing and yielding well but processors are having trouble keeping up because of labor problems. Bad thrips problems on peaches losing 1/3 of #1 yield.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things are looking pretty good in the ‘golden corner’ area. Heavy rains over the weekend have caused some ponding and erosion, but nothing major. Disease pressure continues to be high with the perfect conditions (humid and warm), so growers should continue to practice preventative control methods. Insect pressure has still been considerably low for this time of year, but we’ve seen a subtle increase in populations in the last 2 weeks. Monitoring is extremely important for management strategies to be successful, in general nymphs or the juvenile form of most insects are much easier to manage than adults. Strawberries are just about done, with most growers doing some final pickings this week.”

Grapes are coming along nicely this season. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “Phytophthora can be a devastating disease of Pepper. We have suffered extreme losses on one farm. The worst fields had been planted for 2nd year in pepper which is not recommended. Rotation is highly encouraged. Grower had treated with Ridomil twice and used phosphite repeatedly. It is believed there is resistance in this field to Ridomil, but testing hasn’t been completed yet. Dr. Tony Keinath has a complete description of this disease and control options in this article. We are mostly finished with strawberries at this point and preparing for next year. We are picking some peaches in the upstate although picking is very light do to extreme cold damage from April 3rd.  We are picking some tomatoes in high tunnels. Early blueberry crop was observed last week but picking is very light there also.”

Wilted pepper plants due to phytophthora. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Discolored vascular tissue in pepper stem from phytophthora. Photo from Andy Rollins

Weekly Field Update – 6/14/21

The Coastal Research and Education Center Field Day is coming up this Thursday, June 17 beginning at 8:30. You must have registered to attend this year.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We received some welcomed rain but 5+ inches in a day or so was a bit much. Conditions this week will dry things out. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get out fungicides once you can get in the fields. I saw a few squash fields going downhill last week. Upon closer examination, I found thousands of squash bugs. They tend to congregate on the crown of the plant and will hide under the plastic when you look for them. 

Squash bugs can quickly take down a healthy squash crop. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Multiple life stages of the squash bug seen on this plant. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “More rain fell in the midlands this past week. We’re up to a little over 4 inches of rain at my house for the month of June, more than March and April combined. Some places have received much more. Crops have been loving the rain, but it does come with a cost. As expected, we’ve seen diseases pop up here and there. We’ve seen some Southern blight and bacterial wilt in tomato fields, fusarium in watermelons, and more black rot in brassicas. Weeds are loving the moisture as well. Keep up with fungicide applications, as diseases can get out of hand in a hurry in these conditions.

Southern blight developing at the base of a tomato plant. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are growing well. Sweet corn, squash, cucumbers are being harvested in good volumes. Downy mildew was observed in a smaller planting of cucumbers. Powdery mildew was seen on a smaller planting of squash. Tomato harvest is just beginning. Blossom end rot has been an issue on some early tomatoes. This can be contributed to environmental stresses to the plants (high UV, extremely low humidity, high air temps) from a couple of weeks ago. Blueberries are being harvested in good volumes. The quality of the blueberries is good (for the most part), but a bit undersized. Blackberries are looking good, but botrytis (gray mold) is likely right around the corner. Muscadines are looking good in most locations. Even with the frequent rains, calyptra release has been good. Thrips activity has been low so far. Some early-season ALS (Angular leaf spot) is starting to show. Rally is a good product to control ALS. Some fields are getting a bit wet, limiting equipment and harvest activity in the field.

Placing a sheet of paper underneath the cordon of your muscadine vine and bumping the vine with your fist gives you a good opportunity to look at calyptra release, early fruit drop and thrips activity. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Japanese beetle activity in muscadines looks worse than it actually is. Japanese beetles are foliage feeders… and muscadines have more than enough foliage to spare. Japanese beetle typically are only a concern on newly planted vines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Peppers and tomatoes are rotting at bottom of the plants from too much rain. Belly rot and Pythium leak is bad on cucumbers. Pickleworm is here and needs to be controlled. Southern stem blight is getting bad on tomatoes. Peas that are flowering need to be sprayed for cowpea curculio. Lots of potassium phosphide, metalaxyl, and mefenoxam are being used to keep down rots. Started side dressing, laying by, applying bifenthrin, and boron to sweet potatoes.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Bacterial canker of peach is much worse this year in the upstate. This disease is caused by a Pseudomonas sp. that is different than the bacteria that causes bacterial spot (Xanthomonas sp.). It is common in younger plantings, 3 to 6 years old. A common tell is dead blooms that remain on the tree. This is one of many sites where the bacteria will invade the plant. Fall pruning is a huge mistake as it creates even larger openings for bacteria to enter. This disease can be part of a disease complex (Peach tree short life) or can act independently. The presence of ring nematode would contribute in this case. Cold damage from southwest injury to the trunks is very common and also provides entry. Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done to remedy this problem after being found. Trying to limit the above mistakes is helpful and some research has shown positive results from painting pruning wounds. Other Rutgers research recommended early winter copper applications for bacterial canker in cherry.

A young peach tree suffering from bacterial canker. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Bacterial canker can significantly reduce the life of peach trees. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 6/7/21

The Coastal Research and Education Center Field Day is coming up on June 17 beginning at 8:30. You must register to attend this year. Registration may be found here.

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “The coastal rain events of  the past week resulted in a lot of weeds popping up. For fields not planted yet this is a perfect opportunity to burn down  the flush of weeds to reduce the weed seed bank in the field.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “After some welcome rain in the area over the weekend, crops are looking good. However, given the humidity and rainfall, we are likely to find disease pressure increasing. Strawberries are all over. The wet humid conditions have spiked infections of botrytis and water soaked berries. Blueberries, blackberries and peaches are all coming to market with good quality and volumes with few insect or disease pressures being seen currently. Watermelons and cantaloupes are developing well with some early planted crops coming to harvest. In response to rainfall and increased humidity, keep an eye out for diseases such as bacterial spot in pepper and tomatoes. In addition, some cantaloupe crops are beginning to show Alternaria leaf spot. Make sure fungicide timings are good using a robust program.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We finally got a little bit of rain last week which knocked the dust down some. We could use more and hopefully we will get some this week. Incidence of Southern blight increased last week in tomato. Make note of these fields and avoid planting them in tomato, eggplant, pepper, squash, or melons next season. Overall, the crops look solid. We are in the thick of things when it comes to tomato harvest and rabbiteye blueberry harvest is starting this week as well. We have really humid and wet conditions coming this week so don’t forget to use protectant fungicides. I know everyone is busy, but during the busy season is when most of our insect and disease pressure spiral out of control.”

Classic signs of Southern Blight on tomato. Knowing the difference in Southern Blight and Bacterial Wilt is critical to management. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We finally got some significant rain in the midlands this past week. I’m up to 1.8 inches at my house and there is a good chance in the forecast for more. It has been warm, overcast, and very humid the last several days, which is the perfect recipe for disease development. Make sure you are using preventative fungicide where necessary. Insects seem to be picking up a bit as well. Caterpillars are going strong, we’re still seeing plenty of mites on various crops, and I’m getting reports of stink bugs here and there. We’re harvesting brassicas, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and herbs.”

Tobacco hornworm egg on a tomato leaf. Hornworms start out small, but eat significant amounts of foliage as they grow. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Two adult diamondback moths making more diamondback moths. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Much needed rain has occurred throughout the area this week with more predicted. With rain may come an increase in disease cases, growers should be aware of brown rot as it has been seen in several orchards this week. Removing fruit mummies and diseased fruit if possible can remove some inoculum from the field and limit future spread. Bacterial spot still isn’t being seen on a widespread basis, but again, after the moisture moving in for the extended forecast, growers should keep an eye out. Strawberries are wrapping up with some harvest still happening. Peppers and eggplants are progressing nicely and will also benefit greatly from some rain.”

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs can be a problem for peach growers as they are hard to treat especially for organic growers. Entomologist Dr. Brett Blauuw will discuss these pesky pests on an upcoming podcast episode. November2019Newsletter.pdf (uga.edu). Photo from Sarah Scott.
Brown Rot on peach. The diseased fruit, most likely infected during blossom, did not fully develop and size and is now an inoculum source for disease in the field. Samples of diseased fruit can be sent in for fungicide resistance profiling to help growers better manage for this disease in the future. Contact your extension agent for details. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “1 pickle worm was found in a local squash. Processing and fresh market peppers will be ready to harvest on the week of June 13. Early tomatoes are just beginning to ripen. The rains have been mostly very beneficial but some spots have had excessive. Mudding through to pick pickles in spots. Very difficult to apply timely application of chemicals and some have to be reapplied after rains.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach, “Things are looking good in the Upstate with warm season crops starting to come off. It’s still early for too many disease and insect issues, but high humidity and a couple days of spotty rain will most likely increase pressure significantly.”

Squash are beginning to set fruit in the Upstate. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Weekly Field Update – 5/17/21

Check out the new podcast, “The SC Grower Exchange” featuring Clemson Extension fruit and vegetable agents. The podcast is moderated by Sarah Scott from Edgefield and covers a more detailed look at what is happening in the fields across the state. New episodes are recorded weekly, so listen weekly and subscribe through Spotify, Google, or Apple.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Everything is progressing nicely in the Lowcountry.  We got some much needed rain last week.  Temperatures have been cool so things are somewhat slow from a developmental standpoint.  All the crops look great especially the tomato crop.  We have a really nice fruit set and very little disease.  I am expecting to see bacterial spot to show up sometime soon and have been getting a few calls about bacterial wilt taking down plants. I’ve also gotten a few calls about blossom end rot. That is typical on the first fruit set and will usually correct itself provided there is ample calcium in the soil AND the soil moisture is consistent.  In our sandy soils the main cause of blossom end rot is allowing the soil to dry out during the fruiting stage. Folks might want to consider multiple 30 minute to 1 hour irrigation cycles on tomatoes per day.”

A beautiful field of tomatoes on one of the Sea Islands. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got right at an inch of rain at my house this past Wednesday. While the rain was much needed, the moisture and cool temperatures has allowed plant diseases to get a foothold in numerous crops. Over the last week, I’ve seen bacterial blight in mustard, downy mildew in collards, Septoria leaf spot in Italian parsley, and of course botrytis and a little bit of anthracnose fruit rot in strawberries. Growers have been sanitizing, applying fungicides, and/or terminating old crops to manage disease. When selecting fungicides, be sure to rotate MOA groups (referred to as “FRAC Codes” in the SE Vegetable Crop Handbook) to avoid developing fungicide resistance in your fields.”

Bacterial blight showed up in mustard following the recent heavy rain. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “A major pickle company found cucurbit downy mildew on pickles in Calhoun County. I have seen 100 acres of pickles damaged by hail and another 100 acres damaged by Reflex carry over. Next year, please make sure you are planting the right variety of strawberry for the intended market. When markets get full like this year, buyers are picky of the variety they will buy and many acres were not harvested to their full potential. Remember to control thrips on small peas, cucumbers, and beans. Also, control thrips in the flowers of tomatoes and beans. 

Field Update – 5/10/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I have received calls regarding injury from Curbit in direct seeded cucumbers this year. This can be partly attributed to the colder spring we had this year and potentially seeding to shallow. Seeds germinating in that herbicide layer will have increased stunting in colder soil temperatures.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Following some hail events last week, we find some shredded leaves in cucurbits and some small fruit crops. Strawberries continue to develop well, with isolated incidences of gray mold being seen. Sanitation is one of the critical methods for managing gray mold along with fungicide applications. Thrips are also beginning to be observed. Blueberries in the area are being harvested with good quality fruit. Keep a close eye on scouting for insects. Spider mites are still active in many crops. Cucumber beetles continue to increase as they are migrating from overwintering sites. Many populations are at or very close to the threshold of five adult beetles per plant.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The word in the field right now is…boring. We have had mild temperatures and not much rain so there isn’t a whole lot of disease in the fields right now. I saw the first tomato plant casualties to Bacterial wilt earlier this week. There isn’t anything you can do if you see this disease at this point. Take notes on what varieties and where you see the wilting to help with the issue next year. We have a good fruit set on the tomato crop.  We are seeing heavy volumes of squash and zucchini being picked right now. Melons are blooming in some places and in more coastal areas are sizing up.”

Bacterial wilt causes sudden wilt of tomato plants. Typically it will get a few plants within the same row. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Highbush blueberry variety trial taste test. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was a tough week for strawberries. We had a couple heavy rain events, one of which brought hail with it. Several crops suffered torn leaves from the hail including strawberries, brassicas, and cucurbits. We had a lot of water damaged berries which have kept growers busy sanitizing. We are seeing higher amounts of disease since the rain including botrytis and a little bit of anthracnose fruit rot. Cyclamen mites were found in strawberries this past week. Infested plants from nurseries are a major source for cyclamen mites. The symptoms are very similar to thrips damage, so if you’re seeing crinkled, dark-colored leaves or bronzing and cracking on the fruit, reach out to your local Extension agent for help distinguishing the cause before making treatments. Also, I’m not seeing a whole lot of blooms on the plants, so we may only have a couple weeks of picking left. Keep that in mind if planning miticide or insecticide applications and plan accordingly.”

Monday afternoon hail left holes and tattered leaves in several crops across a fairly wide swath in Lexington County. Photo from Justin Ballew
Crinkled, dark colored leaves from cyclamen mites. Thrips cause similar symptoms, so be sure to determine what caused the damage before treating. Photo from Justin Ballew
Cyclamen mites on a developing strawberry (45x magnification). The arrow on the right is pointing to a juvenile mite. The arrow on the left is pointing to an egg. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach harvest has slowly started with the earliest of varieties. With the drier weather we have not seen a lot of bacterial spot however we will be on the lookout in the coming days with the forecast showing some moisture coming our way. Cover sprays continue for later varieties and we expect active scale crawlers in the next week or so.”

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Much of the northern portion of the Pee Dee received beneficial rains over the last week or so, although it did come by the way of severe storms. Damage to fruit and vegetable crops was (for the most part) minimal, with more significant damage (damaged plastic, broken tomato plants, wind damaged leaves on cucumbers and squash) localized. Vegetable planting has resumed. Thrips activity has been seen on cucurbits and peas. Disease on strawberries (primarily botrytis) has been really heavy, since we have received recent rains. Growers need to step up on old, damaged and disease fruit removal and their fungicide sprays to try to get it back under control. Blueberries are coming along… slowly. First harvest looks to be a bit behind normal timing. Muscadines did take a bit of a hit during the Easter freeze. A lot of primary buds were damaged (on Carlos and Noble muscadines) and were replaced by secondary buds. How it will affect the harvest…we’ll see.”

Lost of primary buds during the Easter freeze event forced the secondary buds to break. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Seeing 2,4-D damage on tomatoes including a high tunnel plants near harvest, a high tunnel with transplants, and a field with plants setting fruit. Also seeing Roundup damage in a field of tomatoes and a greenhouse with thousands of many types of transplants (sprayed under beds).  We’ve seen hail damage on a strawberry field, and plastic destroyed on a high tunnel. Curbit damage on 50 acres of pickles. Planting too shallow and too much irrigation. Starting to harvest fresh market cabbage and processing collards. Pickle plants starting to run, flower, and get sprayed for belly rot. Spraying peas, beans, and cucumbers for thrips.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things are starting to pick up speed in the Upstate. With the potential of a late frost finally past, growers have been busy planting warm season vegetable crops in the ground. Strawberries are still doing well, with heavy rains interrupting harvest only a few times early last week. This week’s weather is projected to be unseasonably cool, but not cold with potential rain for a couple days. Insect issues should continue to stay low, but growers should be monitoring closely for disease under these conditions.”

Weekly Field Update – 5/3/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Botrytis (gray mold) is evident in places following rainfall. Sanitation and removal of the infected berries are critical to reducing inoculum loading. Fungicide applications will also be required to prevent spore germination and further spread of the disease. Where spider mite treatments have been applied, they have effectively reduced the populations but will still require scouting and monitoring.  Yields achieved are very good. Cucurbit crops continue to develop well with a low incidence of chill injury from the cooler temperatures observed on April 21/22. Crops are running well, with some flowering being observed. Cucumber beetles are being monitored, and a few aphids are present in places. Cucumber beetles observed are currently below the threshold of 5 beetles per plant. Squash bugs are also being found on some sites. Careful monitoring will be required because numbers can increase rapidly. Crops are free from disease; however, protectant fungicides are still a critical input. Blueberries are swelling well and beginning to blush.  Blackberries are flowering with excellent fruit set and bud formation. Spider mites have been evident in these crops too; however miticide applications are proving very effective.

Squash bugs are showing up in the coastal region. Photo from Rob Last.

Zack Snipes reports, “We had another nice week of weather in the Lowcountry. We are starting to dry out again so some rain would be nice. All of our crops look really great right now with no huge issues. The biggest issue I see right now is spider mites on all crops which makes sense with the warm dry weather. I’ve gotten a few calls about some strawberry plants putting out runners. We need to get in the fields and pinch those off while we are cleaning up dead berries, blossoms, and tissue. I have been in several vegetable fields lately and seen some inconsistencies in plant growth and vigor. Upon further inspection of some tomato and squash crops, I found galling on the roots which is an indicator of root-knot nematodes. If this is the case on your farm, pull up a few plants and look at the roots. We need to keep good notes on where these areas or fields are and practice good crop rotation for next season or use resistant cultivars. There are some cover crops that help with suppression as well. If you want to pull a soil sample to check for nematodes, give your local agent a call. We are doing a statewide survey looking for the guava root-knot nematode and can assist with sampling. In case you missed the “Update from the Tomato Fields” talk last Wednesday, here is the link.

Smaller squash plants in a large field made me question root-knot nematode damage.  Upon inspection of the roots, I found galling which is an indicator of nematode pressure. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather last week was mild and it is very dry again. The inch of rain we got last weekend didn’t go very far. Strawberries are still yielding well, though in some fields, we’re starting to see berry size decrease, like we frequently see towards the end of picking. Folks had to remove water-damaged berries from their fields following the rain this past weekend. I guess the silver lining in this dry spell is we haven’t had many water-damaged berries yet this year. We’re still seeing some mites here and there, but disease pressure remains low. I found a berry last week with an anthracnose fruit rot lesion for the first time this season. So even though disease pressure is low, we still need to keep up with fungicide programs. There is some rain in the forecast for this week, so now would be a good time to throw in one of the site specific fungicides.”

Fungicides with the best efficacy on gray mold (left) and anthracnose (right) Photo from MyIPM app.
Cabbage with some cold damage from the cold a little over a week ago. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Along the Ridge, crews are still finishing up thinning in peach orchards to ensure good sizing on fruit. We are well into our summer cover spray programs for the season. During pit hardening it is critical to do preventative treatment for bacterial spot. Growers should be watching for plum circulio activity as well as scale crawlers in the next week as well. Sime powdery mildew has been found on foliage. Refer the the 2021 SE Peach, Nectarine, and Plum Management Guide for specific treatment recommendations. Strawberries are performing well. Some spider mite activity as well as some botrytis in the fields, which could worsen with several days of wet weather in the forecast. Transplanting of summer crops continues, including tomatoes and peppers. Curcurbits are becoming established and harvest will begin soon. 

Peach tree after thinning. Notice all of the green fruit on the ground surrounding it. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, and sweet potato slips are really growing since it has warmed up. Getting ready to sidedress and plow cucumbers. Fresh market cabbage will be ready to harvest soon. Processing collards are almost ready to harvest- some downy mildew has been seen. Asparagus suffered from excessive rains last year. Saw some sunscald and chemical burn on strawberries, so watch what products you are applying foliar, especially fertilizers. With the small amount of rain we had last week many acres of peas have been planted; however, it is awfully dry again.”