Weekly Field Update – 10/12/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops are generally looking very well to press with some welcome rain benefiting fall crops.  Whitefly and caterpillar numbers are increasing.  With a few foggy mornings happening over the last week be on the look out for foliar disease pressure to increase given the increase in leaf “wetness”. Plastic and, where applicable, fumigants are applied, ready to begin strawberry planting.  Just a reminder to check plants carefully before planting for crown rots and early foliar pest and disease activity.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We had another wet week in the Lowcountry with 2.5 inches of rain collected at the Coastal Research Station in Charleston.  Things are looking great for strawberry planting in the next few weeks. Be sure to check your plants and roots before you plant them.  Many issues can be solved before plants go into the field. Fall brassicas, squash, lettuce mixes, and root crops are growing and looking great.  We still have whiteflies on many farms.  On most of these farms, spring fields were not terminated once the crop was done which could have led to the explosion of whiteflies we have been seeing this fall.”

Many strawberry growers are putting up fencing BEFORE they plant which drastically enhances the efficacy of the fencing. This fence is about to be baited with a metal tab and peanut butter. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was warm and we saw a heavy dew most mornings. We also had some pretty decent rain come through over the weekend. This warm, moist weather has disease increasing fairly aggressively on some crops. Powdery mildew and downy mildew on cucurbits are pretty rough right now. Pecan shucks are opening and nuts are falling from the earlier varieties like Pawnee and Excel. Strawberry planting should begin this week.”

The shuck has opened on this Excel pecan . Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Still planting processing greens mostly kale and collards because they are a little more resistant to winter cold.  Greens are rapidly growing.  I have already seen some Reflex damage from carryover from last year.  Personally I think it affects roots and keeps them from taking up nutrients and the damage is very similar to magnesium and boron deficiency – so I always recommend applying Epsom salts and boron to combat the problem and it usually works.  Strawberries are going into the beds. Since many are using vapam or k-pam, make sure that enough time is allowed for the fumigate to escape before planting.  Many do not fumigate anymore so don’t forget velum, nimitiz, and majestine are available for nematode control.”

Upstate

Field Update – 7/20/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “It is always good to control goosegrass even if it is past the critical period for competition with the crop. Lack of late-season control made hand-harvesting tomatoes difficult in the field pictured below. Also, there will be a huge deposit of goosegrass seeds into the soil seed bank for next year unless the seeds are destroyed after the harvest.”

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Late season goosegrass growth can make harvest difficult and contribute lots of seed to the seed bank, which will have to be dealt with in future crops. Photo from Dr. Matt Cutulle.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We experienced a nice hot week of weather in the Lowcountry.  Most crops are finishing up with the heat and recent rains.  On later season tomato I have seen bacterial leaf spot on the fruit which makes fruit unmarketable.  I am seeing this on the second cluster of fruit set and not on the first or third clusters.  Hemp seems to be off to the races and looking pretty good so far.  There are within every hemp field occasional wilted, stunted, and yellowed plants.  These plants always have a weak root system and most of the time have girdling and interveinal discoloration.  Peppers and eggplants are loving this heat and are producing in high volumes.”

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Bacterial leaf spot showing up on the second set of fruit on the tomato plant. Photo from Zack Snipes. 

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Wilting of hemp is very common and often sporadic throughout fields. Photo from Zack Snipes

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was hot and mostly dry, though we did have some scattered thunderstorms come through over the weekend. Field prep for fall crops continues. We’ve had some fall tomatoes, peppers, and brassicas transplanted already and more to come this week. Everything is growing pretty fast right now and we’re still picking spring crops. Keep an eye out for spider mites, as they love the hot, dry weather we’ve had lately.”

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Fall tomatoes transplanted in Lexington this past week. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still ahead of schedule on peach varieties being harvested.  Early August Prince and August Prince are being picked now which is over a week earlier than usual. The fruit quality is still good with slightly smaller than ideal fruit.  With the extreme heat and lack of rain in the past week, summer crops like tomatoes and cucumbers are looking rough. Bell peppers are doing well.”

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An Edgefield County grower assessing his Early August Prince orchard. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Sweet potatoes are looking good. Establishment seems to be very good for the most part. Long green cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, peas, okra, and sweet corn are harvesting well. Condition is good to very good. Sweet corn will be wrapping up shortly. Blueberries are pretty much finished, with only a few remaining fruit on Powderblue. Fruit condtion is fair to good. Muscadines are coming along nicely and appear to have an excellent crop. Fresh muscadines should be beginning harvest soon, with wine/juice grapes still a few weeks from harvest. Be on the lookout for Grape root borer moths. They are starting to emerge. They were being caught in traps placed in vineyards in Marion and Horry counties.

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Grape root borer moths being caught in a bucket-style trap. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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No, this is not a paper wasp. It is a grape root borer moth. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Harvested first crop of processing peppers. Continuing to pick and plant pickles. Processing greens are over for the spring crop. Harvesting the first crop of processing and seed peas and planting fall crop.  Getting processing tomatoes out of the field as quickly as the plant can take them.  Things are drying out, hope we don’t go into drought with the heat.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Spotty rain and high temperatures have left many small growers scrambling for irrigation options throughout the Upstate. Peaches and nectarines are still being harvested. Blueberries are just about finished, and farmers’ market produce is starting to wind down with the heat. Apples should begin next week with early varieties like ‘Ginger Gold’  and ‘Golden Supreme’.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Plenty of early blight, bacterial spot/speck on tomatoes this season, but some of the more troublesome problems have been various tomato virus problems. When diagnosing virus problems it is important to get lab verification because herbicide injury can look very similar when just going by visual symptoms. If you suspect herbicide drift from a neighboring farm. Look for damage to other broadleaf plants in the area in between the suspected source and the damaged plants. Follow the wind direction.  You should have more severe damage on the leading edge. Also, herbicide residual from a previous crop like sunflowers can also give you herbicide damage that you did to yourself. Read and follow all pesticide label directions. There are plant back restrictions on some herbicides so be careful. If this is the case the damage should be fairly consistent/uniform throughout the area that was planted in the other crop.

Unlike both of these other situations, virus problems may come from your seed source, the greenhouse where plants were grown, or from weeds in the field. Pokeweed is commonly a source, as are many other broadleaf weeds. Thrips, aphids, and whiteflies are all known to vector viruses into plants. Symptoms are what you see below with “shoestring” looking leaves, leaves with distorted veins, and mosaic yellow and green coloration. There are many viruses that infect plants. Each of them can show different symptoms and also they can each look different on other plants as well. It’s even possible for a healthy-looking plant with no symptoms to be infected with several viruses.”

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“Shoestring” type leaf distortion may be a symptom of a virus or herbicide damage. Get confirmation from the plant disease lab. Photo from Andy Rollins.