Field Update – 6/29/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “In our area crops are generally looking good with watermelons and cantaloupes coming to harvest.  From a pest perspective, we are finding some early pickleworm and melon worm damage occurring. In addition, cucumber beetles and squash bugs remain active. Cucurbit downy mildew is being found in the area and as such protectant fungicide applications remain viable options. If in doubt scout.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Last week was full of heavy rain and heat. It finally feels like June.  Crops are either going one of two ways right now:  they either look great or they are succumbing to disease. Tomatoes are picking great and I’ve seen some really nice watermelons finish up this week. Peppers are loving this heat but I have seen an uptick in bacterial leaf spot (BLS) in the crop. Keep up with spray programs (copper and Manzate) for BLS in pepper. Tomatoes are also starting to look rough with all the heat and rain. If your tomato crop dies, please identify the culprit so we can better manage it next year. Soilborne diseases such as bacterial wilt and southern blight will not go away next year. I will be more than happy to work with folks on crop planning, cover crops, and rotation on their farms so we can avoid crop failures.

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A quick cut of the stem of a wilting plant and a dip into water can help to positively identify Bacterial Wilt in tomato. The presence of the pathogen will yield a clear to white ooze coming from the plant after a few minutes in the water. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Bacterial Leaf Spot is spreading in pepper due to the heavy rains and increased heat. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We finally got some widespread rain mid-week and it has rained in places most days since. Some areas received enough rain to cause temporary flooding in lower-lying fields. Remember, according to produce safety guidelines, any produce that was flooded may not be harvested. We should expect diseases to worsen in the coming weeks. Powdery mildew in cucurbits and bacterial spot in tomatoes has certainly increased in the past week. Crops are still developing very rapidly and we are picking lots of squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, sweetcorn, greens, beans, etc.”

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This field of cucumbers was temporarily flooded by the heavy rain last week. Photo from Justin Ballew

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A crew picking squash in Lexington. Squash and zucchini are growing like wildfire in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Raining almost every day some storms causing downed trees.   Root rot bad applying a lot of potassium phosphide. A few strawberry growers still picking around rains. Downy mildew bad but Ranman and Orondis are doing a good job of control. Peas are maturing and will not be too long until harvest. We need to hurry to get the second crop planted on the same land. Still planting sweet potatoes. Okra and tomatoes just started to bare. Southern stem blight is bad and we’re spraying Fontelis. Some first crop butterbeans are being harvested.”

Field Update – 6/15/20

Statewide

The video below is from Vegetable Weed Specialist Matt Cutulle. It shows a flame weeder attachment killing weeds around the edges of a field. The person walking behind the tractor is using a flame weeder with a propane tank on his back. These are good options for weed control in organic fields.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It’s the time of year when crops are starting to look ugly.  We are in the middle of tomato harvest and it seems to be a pretty good crop this year.  Bacterial spot is starting to spread up the plants due to a heavy fruit set, perfect weather, the inability to spray, and constant handling by pickers. Keep up with spray programs as the last few weeks of development are critical to size and taste.  Rabbiteye blueberries are coming in strong right now and look really good with the occasional berry having Exobasidum. Stink bug pressure has been very high this year and I’m seeing damage on a multitude of crops.”

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It is critical to know the difference between Southern Blight and Bacterial wilt when managing tomato diseases.  Southern Blight will have a white fungal mat with small “BBs” on the stem. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Bacterial wilt shows up in the same fields year after year. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Rob Last reports, “In our area, we are seeing some good quality watermelons and cantaloupes coming to harvest.  We are seeing some manganese toxicity related to low pH in both crops.  Also given the sporadic storms we have seen leaf potassium levels have been lower than ideal.  It would be recommended to monitor tissue nutrient levels and adjust fertilizer applications accordingly.”

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Manganese toxicity on cantaloupe leaves appears as round, tiny, tan spots, sometimes with a yellow halo.  This symptom can be misdiagnosed as early downy mildew. Foliar analysis can be used to diagnose Mn toxicity. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

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 On the leaf underside, the halo appears water-soaked (“greasy”). This symptom can be misdiagnosed as early downy mildew. Foliar analysis can be used to diagnose Mn toxicity. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got a little much-needed rain last week. Crops are developing quickly and growers have started harvesting the oldest planted sweet corn as well as squash, zucchini, cucumbers, beans, and what’s left of spring brassicas. Cucurbit downy mildew has not yet been found in the midlands, but it probably won’t be long. Keep applying preventative fungicides.”

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Zucchini almost ready to be picked. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach season is in full swing. Bacteriosis and brown rot continue to show up in many fields. Warm temperatures during an extended bloom period as well as rain and cold at critical times in the early season are likely the culprits for these issues.”

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Bacteriosis on ripening peach. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Cucumbers are being harvested in good numbers. Squash and zucchini yields are increasing. Sweet corn will be ready to begin harvest in a few days. Disease pressure is increasing in cucumbers, primarily Cucurbit Downy Mildew (CDM). CDM has caused significant damage and severely reduced the crop in two locations. Forecasted rains for the next 7-10 days will make it extremely difficult to spray fungicides (as well as applying insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizer). Fruit crops are being negatively impacted by the weather, as well. Reduced fruit quality is caused by increased disease pressure and wet field conditions. And, the forecast over the next 7-10 days is for more rain.”

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Checkerboard pattern indicative of Cucurbit Downy Mildew on cucumbers. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Purplish-brown sporulation on the underside of cucumber leaves confirms that it is Cucurbit Downy Mildew. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Cucurbit downy mildew is increasing rapidly with the rain, glad we started spraying Ranman or Orondis 2 weeks ago. With the rain, ponds have returned to our fields. As one of my vegetable farmers said “Not a good year to be in the Pee Dee vegetable business.” Hundreds of acres of beans, squash, cucurbits, and peas have drowned. Farmers are probably tired of me saying “Potassium Phosphide will help.” Regretfully, on brassicas, the yellowed margined beetle has become established in the Pee Dee, and downy mildew is awful. However, sweet potatoes are growing like a weed (its close kin morning glories).”

Field Update – 6/1/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Yellow nutsedge is one of the more problematic weeds we deal with and we are approaching peak nutsedge season with the heat and all the rain we have been getting. Post herbicide options are limited in most vegetable crops. However, if growing sweet corn you may have the option to combine a good (Basagran) Post nutsedge herbicide with an average Post nutsedge herbicide (Callisto) to provide excellent control of yellow nutsedge. Please consult your seed company regarding whether a specific variety is expected to be tolerant to post-emergent applications. The majority of sweet corn is tolerant to PRE application of Callisto.”

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Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some heavy rains in places last week, but everything seems to be drying out. It seems that every crop is coming in right now from basil to zucchini so everyone is busy out in the fields. Now is the time, when things are busy, that insects and diseases thrive. Perhaps a weekly fungicide application is skipped and a small issue turns into a disease or insect outbreak. Stay on your scouting, IPM, and spray programs as much as possible.”

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Spring collards left in the field and forgotten but are not forgotten by the insects. Destroying this crop residue now will decrease the fall insect pressure. Photo from Zack Snipes,

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Lots more rain last week, but the weekend was nice and allowed for a lot of the excess water to dry up. It doesn’t take long in our sandy soil. Lots of water damaged strawberries along with Botrytis and either Rhizopus or Mucor rot (possibly both). Some growers have wrapped up picking and others will be wrapping up soon. We’ve had a decent picking season here in the midlands and reported sales were very good. Other crops like tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, and beans are growing fast and looking good. Stay on top of disease programs right now.”

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Squash is growing fast and it won’t take long for this little one to be ready to harvest. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach harvest is going strong throughout the Ridge. Warmer, wet weather has been on the increase which could give way to some emerging pest and disease issues. Brown rot is showing up in some orchards. Bacterial spot is also heavy in areas. Continue spray programs following the Southeastern Peach,  Nectarine and Plum Pest Management Guide. Summer crops and looking good with some powdery mildew showing up in squash. Increased diamondback moth caterpillars in broccoli.”

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Phytotoxicity from insecticide sprayer left running while turning the corner of the row. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberry season has (for-the-most-part) come to an end. Heavy rains for the last two weeks was the primary reason. Excess moisture has damaged blueberries and caused a somewhat early harvest of potatoes. Many fields are too wet to make pesticide applications. Disease, insect, and weed pressure is getting rather heavy in spots. Fertility is a major concern, as well. Much of the pre-plant fertilizer applied early in the season is likely leached out/moved in the soil profile, and fields are too wet to apply fertilizer. Drier conditions are desperately needed to improve field and crop conditions.”

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Heavy blooming and fruit set on Carlos muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Heavy persistent rains causing blueberry fruit to split. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “I am thinking about becoming an aquaculture agent to help farmers stock all these ponds from the rain in their fields. I am recommending folks to spray phosphide products to perk-up the crops and help with all the root rot – even if it has to be done with an airplane. Thrips, stink bugs, and false cinch bugs are awful this spring. We have Pythium growing in sweet potato transplant beds and on cucumbers from the heat and rain. Everything from cucumbers to peppers are baring early because of the stress of the wind earlier in the spring. We are adding extra nitrogen to everything because of the leaching rains. Weeds are taking over the world.”

Field Update – 5/26/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “Powdery mildew was found late last week on watermelon at the Coastal REC, Charleston. All watermelon growers should look at the photo below to be sure they can identify powdery mildew in the early stages. The spots are pale yellow, and, unlike squash, may not have white powdery growth under the spot on the bottom of the leaf. See Powdery Mildew on Watermelon Land-Grant Press 1019 for spray recommendations (https://lgpress.clemson.edu/publication/powdery-mildew-on-watermelon/).”

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Light yellow spots on watermelon leaf from powdery mildew. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I saw a good bit of powdery mildew last week on all cucurbit crops. I have had several questions this spring about injury to watermelon. I think the strong winds, sand, and spraying damaged the crowns of melons. They are growing out of it now but have had some folks concerned. Bacterial wilt is showing up in tomato as temperatures climb and fruit is loading up in the crop. Keep up with scouting for insects and diseases. Overall things look great.”

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Crown injury on watermelon due to high winds and sandblasting. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Conditions have been perfect for the development of powdery mildew on cucurbit crops. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Rob Last reports, “Watermelons generally look very good with great color and potential with early fruit set occurring.  Fusarium wilt is active at low levels in some places, as to be expected in areas of impaired drainage.  Also, I observed a little hail damage to watermelons and cantaloupe in Bamberg County.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been raining a lot in the Midlands, but we really needed some rain. I’ve had almost 6.5 inches at my house since last Monday (5/18). This has slowed down strawberry picking and we have a ton of water damaged berries. Botrytis is loving all the moisture. Most fields look like they will keep producing for a few more weeks,  just stay on top of fungicide programs. The moisture and warm temperatures have most other crops growing rapidly and looking good. Keep an eye out for disease.

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These strawberries sitting in water will be damaged and need to be removed from the field before botrytis begins to develop. Photo from Justin Ballew

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Tomatoes are loving the warm weather. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Anyone have an ark?  Many fields are flooded. Nutrients are washing away and strawberries are water-soaked.  Some strawberry farmers have stopped picking.  Water-logged soil causing crops to stop growing and we have to rely on airplanes to spray crops.  Weeds are enjoying the rain.”

Bruce McLean reports, “Last week was rainy in most locations, and this week looks like more of the same. Disease pressure is elevated due to excessive moisture. Seeing gummy stem blight showing up in cucumbers and bacterial spot in tomatoes. Thrips pressure had been high going into last week (especially on beans, peas, and cucumbers), and could still be high in the few locations that missed the heavy rains. But everywhere else, the heavy rains likely reduced thrips activity. Strawberries are finishing up. Heavy rains damaged most of the remaining red fruit. Blueberry harvest is starting to increase. Prior to rains, fruit was looking really good. The excess moisture did cause some fruit splitting, but no long term damage to the crop. Haven’t seen much thrips activity in muscadines yet, but now concerned with increased problems with calyptra release, a condition known as stuck cap. It’s a little early to tell, but could reduce yields.

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Thrips damage to southern peas. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “We are building the ark to send down to Tony in the Pee Dee!  Lots of flooded fields last week (and today) with many places seeing 4-6 inches of rain over 3 days. Strawberry growers halted picking and worked around the rains. Vegetable producers are replanting washed out crops and draining fields.  Peaches and apples continue to be on track for a good season. Localized hail damage is showing up on apples in Mountain Rest from one of the storms a few weeks ago.”

Field Update – 3/9/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Finally we have a break from the rain!  I lost count of how many inches of rain we had.  In fields with clean ditches and water furrows, water drained off pretty quickly, however, some fields suffered from all the rain.  If your fields are wet, try to stay out of them until they dry.  One of the worst things that can happen is when fields are entered when wet and soggy, causing compaction issues in the soil.  I am seeing lots and lots of disease in strawberry and blueberry.  The cold weather a few weeks ago killed many developing fruit and blossoms leaving them vulnerable to fungal infection. With over a week of consistent rain/cloudy weather and mild temperatures, the fungal pathogens have exploded.  If you can get into your fruit fields then both protectant and systemic fungicides should be applied.

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Freeze damage on early blueberry varieties is a perfect place for fungal pathogens to attack. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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It will be a while before this field can be worked again.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had lots of rain last week, but a very nice weekend and I saw the first bit of pollen on my windshield Saturday afternoon.  Despite the rain, spider mites are starting to build up in strawberries in several places, requiring treatment.  This is probably a result of having the row covers on for so long.  Conditions are still perfect for disease development and we are seeing lots of Botrytis as well as some anthracnose fruit rot.  More rain is coming this week, so be timely with fungicide applications and be sure to sanitize dead leaves, flowers, and fruit from the plants.  These become sources of inoculum as disease develops, so get that material out of the field.

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Two-spotted spider mites can appear red in the winter.  Leaving row covers on for long periods of time can create the perfect conditions for spider mites. Photo from Justin Ballew

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This strawberry has anthracnose spores (orange mass on the left) as well as Botrytis (grey mass) developing on it. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Fields are rapidly drying – hopefully, it doesn’t rain until later this week so we can finally get some greens planted. We have got some acres planted but there are thousands left to be planted.  Peaches are still up in the air.  Some varieties are totally lost but others are fine.  Growers are running wind machines and burning hay bales most nights to protect blooms from the cold.  Covering and watering to protect strawberries and some growers have been picking for weeks, though others want to wait until they have enough fruit to open. With all the rain, Botrytis is tough on strawberries. Some growers are spraying twice a week, while others are letting it go and will pick-off bad fruit with the good fruit and sell what they can.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Last week was the annual ‘Upstate Fruit Grower Meeting’ in Oconee County. Extension Agent, Kerrie Roach, along with Extension specialists from Clemson and NC State presented on topics to more than 30 attendees. Topics covered included apple diseases, PGRs, peach disease management, insect & disease ID, fungicide resistance, blackberry PGR research, the MyIPM app. along with much more. Lots of great networking and conversations were had over lunch and continued after the meeting. The Upstate is looking forward to a great growing season!”

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Last week’s Upstate Fruit Grower Meeting was a success.  Photo from Cory Tanner.

Field Update – 3/2/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “The horticulture team got the opportunity to tour some really nice greenhouse/transplant providers last week.  One point I’d like to bring up is transplant quality.  Yes, quality transplants cost more upfront but healthy, quick-growing plants will help you recoup your investment.  I see lots and lots of subpar transplants going into fields that come from transplant providers with disease and insect issues from the start.  The plants will require more attention and cost more to fertilize and spray than healthy plants from the start.  We also got to see some grafted tomato and melon plants.  If you have been having trouble with a particular disease, cultivar, or area within your farm then grafted transplants may be an option for you.  I have seen several farms in the past few years switch to using grafted plants and they are loving the results.  Again they cost more but they are less likely to die with a full fruit load in late May.”

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Grafted tomatoes with the appropriate rootstock can help battle diseases such as bacterial wilt and southern blight. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Mixed variety of very healthy and clean transplants ready to be picked up. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a little break in the rain over the weekend.  Hopefully, strawberry growers have taken advantage of that to sanitize the fields and get a fungicide application out.  Conditions have been perfect for Botrytis development (lots of moisture and temps in the 60’s) and we are seeing a ton of it.  The MyIPM app is a great resource for determining which fungicides to include in your rotation.  There are a few fruit out there that are ripening up, but they’re ugly and don’t taste great yet.  This will improve with time as long as pollination is good and we get some sunny days. Keep in mind it’s still very early in the season.  Start taking tissue samples now to make sure we get the fertigation right.”

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Botrytis growing on decaying tissue is plentiful right now.  It’s going to be a rough strawberry season if the rain doesn’t slow down.  Photo from Justin Ballew

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Misshaped fruit most likely caused by poor pollination.  Boron deficiency can cause this appearance also and would show up on a tissue sample.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Recent rains have caused a lot of erosion issues in orchards, especially those with trees planted on berms. With more heavy rain in this week’s forecast, farmers should focus on problem areas and consider erosion control methods such as coconut coir logs to help slow the movement of water through the orchard.  Peach trees are progressing quickly but it is still too early to make predictions about this year’s crop.”

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The recent rain has caused erosion issues in a number of orchards.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Farmers are hurrying to get greens/cabbage/collards planted before the rain this week.  Also, getting sweet potato beds in for transplant production.  Growers are fumigating fields for tomatoes, peppers, and other summer vegetables.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Last week several S.C. agents toured two different grafting/vegetable transplant production operations in WNC. Grafting can translate some great resistance/tolerance traits to otherwise susceptible varieties of tomatoes we commonly plant in small scale production. Check with your agent to see if grafted tomato plants might benefit your operation. Meanwhile, in the upstate, it didn’t rain for a few days and growers have finally been able to get into the field to prep and plant some early crops. Temperatures have been typical for this time of the year. Hang tight because more rain is forecasted for this week!

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Grafted tomatoes can be a good way to combat certain soil-borne diseases.  Be sure to get the correct resistance trait for the diseases you’re battling.  Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Field Update 2/24/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “As probably guessed the topic of the day is the 2 nights of sub 32F temperatures.  Most folks were able to cover their strawberries and hopefully, the row covers did their jobs.  I know in some places temperatures lower than 25F were seen.  The blueberry crop took the biggest blow.  Many of our rabbiteye types were ahead of schedule with the warm weather and were almost in full bloom or close to it when the cold nights came in.  I have seen several pictures from several farms that have a good bit of damage.  It is important to get fungicides out sometime this week as we have the perfect storm for a disease outbreak (warmer temperatures, wet weather, dead plant tissue, disease inoculum).  Recently planted brassicas are showing some damage but should grow out of it.  Only time will tell the extent of the cold damage.

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Strawberries are in their most vulnerable state when they are in full bloom as seen here. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Small green fruit are a little more tolerant of cold temperatures although this fruit has some freeze damage and will decay if left on the plant.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had plenty of rain last week and two cold nights this weekend.  It got to 28 Saturday morning and 29 Sunday morning at my house.  Strawberries were all covered, so they were protected, but now we’re getting to where we need to get the row covers off to make a fungicide application.  The rain and the threat of near-freezing temperatures this week is holding us back from getting that done.  Bees won’t able to get to the flowers for pollination either until we get the row covers off.  As soon as we’re able, we need to remove dead flowers, leaves, and fruit from the plants also.

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Water pooling in a collard field during the rain Thursday (2/20).  Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Strawberries split open to show cold damage.  The strawberry on the bottom is healthy and the two on top have varying degrees of discoloration and necrosis.  If not removed from the field, these two damaged berries will become a source of botrytis inoculum. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Wet weather is still prevalent and temperatures have dipped below freezing a couple of nights this past week. Warm weather earlier in the month began to push peach trees into a bit of an early bloom so we are watching for cold injury now. It is still too early to tell if the weather will affect the crop.

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The left photo shows a brown pistil, most likely damaged by below freezing temperatures while the bloom in the right photo had a pistil that is still green and probably undamaged. Photo from Sarah Scott

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Workers use flail mowers to grind up smaller pieces of pruned limbs in row middles throughout peach orchards. Breaking down the material is helpful in nutrient recycling as well as speeding decomposition to reduce spore production from fungal pathogens.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Rain won’t stop for us to get greens/cabbage/collards planted.  Transplants are having to be held back as much as possible so they won’t get too leggy.  Some growers got their sweet potato beds planted in real sandy fields.  Most strawberry growers have started covering to save fruit.  Remember that covering encourages spider mites and fruit rots.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “After a couple weeks with cooler temperatures, chill hours for the Upstate fruits crops (apples & peaches) are looking good. The dry weekend was too good to be true as we are getting more rain today. The forecast calls for dry weather the rest of this week. Hopefully, we can start getting into fields for prep work and early plantings for market growers.

Field Update – 2/17/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Love is in the air, and your crabgrass (Digitaria spp.) PRE herbicides should be on the ground if you are in the Low Country.  When soil temperatures reach 55 F for 2 to 3 days, which will usually occur before March 1st in the Low Country, March 15th in the Midlands and March 30th for the upstate crabgrass germination is possible and can continue throughout the spring and summer. No matter how well crabgrass has been controlled in previous years, there is still a tremendous seed bank in the soil and open spots in crop canopy will allow this fast-growing summer annual to invade. Crabgrass’ rapid emergence and extremely fast growth rate make it a problematic weed in early spring to summer.  One study by NC State showed that for every week large crabgrass emergence was delayed an increase in 373 watermelon fruit was observed. This relatively small grassy weed can cause a big problem in early season cucurbit crop plantings.”

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Crabgrass seedlings. Photo from Virginia Tech

 

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “A wet week is coming to the Lowcountry.  Most farms are discing up land and pressing beds in preparation for the season.  I saw some potatoes going in last week on a farm or two.  If you have strawberries and have started spraying, then keep spraying.  Protectant fungicides applied before a weather event are the best measure at preventing disease.  The weather coming is perfect for gray mold and Anthracnose to develop.  If you have a smartphone download the MYIPM app (make sure to use WiFi) to key you in on diseases and preventative measures for small fruits.

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Land being prepped for spring vegetables. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “More rain on the horizon.  Lots of collards are bolting and fall brassicas, in general, are wrapping up.  Some spring brassicas have already been planted.  Black rot is showing up in some fields following the storms and warm weather, so if, you’re done with a field, get rid of it!  It never got cold enough Friday to kill strawberry blooms, but lots of growers had their row covers on just in case.  Growers are protecting blooms from now on. This will have us picking around mid-March.  Make sure to sanitize the fields as soon as it stops raining and it’s safe to pull off the row covers and start your fungicide programs and fertigation now.

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Black rot showing up in collards after the recent storms.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Workers busy putting row covers on strawberries.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McClean reports, “We have been on a bit of a roller coaster for the last couple of weeks… warm temps separated by brief periods of cool, windy conditions. The cool weather has not been that severe or persistent, and the warmer weather has been much more dominant. This has caused crops like blueberries and strawberries to really start to push. Heavy flowering in both crops is very evident now. With strawberries, we’re not too worried about losing early blooms… the plant will make more. But with blueberries, persistent early warm temps can ruin the upcoming season’s crop quickly. Some growers have asked about frost protecting this early. The challenge is “do you have enough water to protect until all risk of frost is gone”… likely not. The only thing worse than losing a crop because you didn’t frost protect is frost protecting all winter only to run out of water on the last night of freezing temps. Try to assess how much water supply you have and try to make decisions based on that. If you need help, please reach out to Clemson Extension for assistance.

Some chores to be doing now – finish up pruning your vineyards and orchards over the next week, or so. Look closely for dead wood in your vineyard, especially on the cordons. Now is the best time to identify it and remove it. Also, if you are planning to do some hardwood propagation on blueberries, now is the time to select one-year-old canes for cuttings. Be sure to keep them bagged (with moist peat moss or pine bark) and refrigerated until you are ready to sprig in the spring.

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Unhealthy muscadine condon that needs to be pruned out. Photo from Bruce McLean

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Hardwood blueberry cutting. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Farmers wish the rain would stop so they can get greens planted.  One way to keep plants from growing too tall in the greenhouse is blowing with a leaf blower every day it will harden them off and cause them to be shorter.  Time to bed sweet potatoes for slips if not to wet.  If you’ve started to save/protect strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc. (some already in full bloom) get ready for Friday night.

Field Update – 1/13/20

Spring fruit and vegetable meetings are being announced daily, so keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” tab over the next several weeks.

Coastal Region

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I have been seeing a lot of Henbit in the coastal area this year (A big chunk of it in Dr. Brian Ward’s research fields). Don’t be deceived by the pretty flowers. We don’t really have any options for selectively controlling the weed POST in most vegetable crops. Mowing before viable seed head formation is a good way to reduce the weed seed bank deposit of this problematic winter annual. More description of the weed can be found at (https://www.clemson.edu/cafls/research/weeds/weed-id-bio/broadleaf-weeds-parent/broadleaf-pages/henbit.html)”

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Henbit flowers. Photo from Dr. Matt Cutulle.

Dr. Tony Keinath reports,”White mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) is active in the Charleston area. The two nights of freezing temperatures December 18-19 likely stimulated sclerotia to germinate and produce ascospores. Warm, overcast weather with mist and light rain is ideal for spread and germination of the airborne ascospores. Weather conditions likely will remain favorable for white mold over the next 3 months. Growers will need to rotate conventional white mold fungicides due to limits on the number of applications that can be made per crop.

For organic crops, Sonata at 8 pints per acre may offer some protection. See pages 185 and 222 in the 2020 Vegetable Crop Handbook for Southeastern United States.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Warm and muggy is the only way to describe the past week.  I was out in a blueberry patch and noticed some low chill hour varieties already blooming.  We have gotten very few chill hours to date in Charleston.  Chill hours are the number of hours below 45F and are required for proper fruiting of perennial fruits.  For a  normal year in Charleston we should get anywhere from 400-600 chill hours.  I have also seen strawberries pushing out some blooms.  Growers should not worry as that is normal for this time of year.  I think it is still too early to starting pushing strawberries for fruiting.  Remember that it takes 35 or so days to go from bloom to picking a strawberry.  It we let our plants grow and develop more crowns right now (rather than fruit), then we will have greater production this spring.”

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Low chill hour blueberries are already showing some blooms. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Strawberries starting to push out a few blooms. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It was unseasonably warm this past week and we had a couple significant rain events over the weekend. I’ve seen a few daffodils and forsynthia blooming already.  Strawberries are growing a little faster right now and that’s good new for fields that are a little behind.  The weather conditions we have right now are very conducive to Phytophthora development, so now would be a good time for a Ridomil application through the drip, especially in fields with a history of Phytophthora. Winter weeds are really exploding now.  Make sure to pull any weeds coming up in the plant holes so they aren’t competing with the strawberries. We’re still harvesting brassicas and they look good other than a little Sclerotinia here and there.”

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A likely Pytophthora infection in a strawberry crown.  The tip of the crown near the roots has turned reddish/brown. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Cabbage in the midlands is looking nice. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Wet and overly warm temperatures have set in along the Ridge over the past week. 2.5 inches of rain have fallen but with soil already wet it is making for difficult working conditions. Fields are still being prepped for peach tree planting and pruning should begin this week. With temperatures reaching into the 70s there is a concern that higher chill varieties of peaches may not get adequate chilling requirements to produce optimum yields but we will have to wait and see what the weather continues to do. Cabbage, collards, and kale are still being harvested along with a few other late winter crops. Strawberries are putting on a lot of growth with the warm temperatures. Some spider mites in the field but very minimal observations.”

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Strawberries are growing fast in this warm weather. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Spider mite populations are begging to increase in our area. Most brassica producers are selling out. Remember to disk in remaining plant material as soon as possible, this reduces the chance of disease in your following crop year. Sclerotinia white mold has been very prevalent in our area.  Remember to rotate for a minimum of three years if disease emerges. Weather has not allowed for spring bedding to begin.”

Pee Dee Region

Tony Melton reports, “Last week, folks hurried before rain to get land bedded for greens to be planted the first of February.  This will allow weeds to emerge so they can be killed before planting in stale-bed-culture.  Strawberries are loving this warm weather.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “We have some growers who are finished pruning apples and peaches, some who have just started, and others who haven’t touched their orchards yet. We will see who fairs the best… I have concerns with what I would consider to be early pruning, combined with continued warm temperatures creating a perfect storm for when cold temperatures finally arrive. Heavy rains have plagued the area, with more than 13 inches recorded at the Oconee airport in January thus far.”

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Apple trees after pruning. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Field Update – 1/6/20

Statewide

We hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year!  Please keep an eye on the Upcoming Events tab for several spring production meetings and conferences coming up around the state.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We’ve gotten a lot of rain over the last 30 days, including around an inch and a half late last week.  The weather was warm in the afternoons for most of the week also.  Our corps are going well, though spider mites seem to be picking up in strawberries.  Mites are easy to forget about this time of year, so be sure to get out there and scout. We should have 3 branched crowns on our strawberries at this point, but we are a little behind in several fields.  Caterpillar populations remain low and the brassicas we are harvesting look great.  Sclerotinia white mold is showing up in some brassica fields following all the recent moisture we’ve had.  This is a good reminder to use a crop rotation of at least 3 years.

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Sclerotinia white mold developing on collard leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew

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A cluster of spider mites on the upper edge of the underside of a strawberry leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew

Lalo Toledo reports, “We have seen ‘Sclerotinia stem rot’ on brassicas increase in the last couple days. This moist weather helps promote stem infections that spread rapidly downward to decay roots and expand upward wilting leaves, resulting in plant collapse. We have observed a white, cottony growth near the soil line. Disease development is generally favored by abundant soil moisture and temperatures ranging from 10-25°C (50-77°F). It is important to implement good sanitation practices and long rotations to non-host crops. Cultivate to help promote good soil drainage. Fungicide application are also available. Refer to Vegetable handbook. Remember to rotate fungicide groups.

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Wilted collards caused by Sclerotinia development on the stem. Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee Region

Tony Melton reports seeing spider mites in most strawberry fields.  “Fall strawberries covered in hoop houses or just covered outside are doing well and producing well.  Selling out the few remaining regrowth collards and greens.  This week should be dry enough to start bedding land for spring greens to allow weeds to emerge and kill using stale-bed-culture.  Stale-bed-culture is my favorite way to destroy most of the weeds before planting any crop.”

Bruce McLean reports, “Even though the calendar says January, it’s been feeling a bit more like April here lately. The remaining brassica crops look really good (for the most part). Cabbage, collards, turnips and broccoli are still in good supply. Pest pressure has been extremely low this season.  Strawberries are looking very good as well. The recent heat is pushing blooms a bit. I haven’t seen anyone dragging the row covers out yet, so blooms are getting bitten on these coldest nights. No worries… they’ll be plenty more blooms to take their place. I’ve not seen any significant pests on strawberries, either.

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The recent heat has really pushed the broccoli out. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Strawberries are looking very good this season in the Pee Dee.  Photo from Bruce McLean.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “We’ve had cold weather along with lots of precipitation in the Upstate over the last few days. There were even some flurries up in the mountains. Pruning for apples is going to commence over the next few weeks. The SE Apple Growers Association Meeting is this week Tuesday and Wednesday in Asheville, NC, and many of our SC growers will attend.”