Weekly Field Update – 3/29/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops continue to develop well with sustained flowering and fruit set. Early crops are ripening well with crops coming to market. Just a note of caution, the weather last week can be conducive to gray mold development, so fungicide programs are going to be key. Thrips are active in some crops too, so keep scouting. Melon transplants are going in the ground over the last week with development looking very promising. Peaches in the area are all but finished flowering with great fruit set. Finally, as we are looking at a cooler week for flowering fruit crops, keep an eye on the forecast temperatures to determine if protection is going to be required. Fruit and closed buds can tolerate cooler temperatures than flowers, but damaged flowers can increase gray mold development.”

Strawberries continue to develop well in the Coastal region. Photo from Rob Last.

Zack Snipes reports, “We have had pretty good weather as of late and it has really made things jump here.  Spring greens, onions, radishes, carrots, and strawberries are really pushing out hard.  I counted 57 green berries+flowers on one strawberry plant. If someone can beat that number, I will give you a Free Crop Handbook. The blueberry crop is looking great with a good fruit set on highbush varieties and tons of flowers right now on the rabbiteye types.  We planted around 30 citrus trees on Friday as part of a Specialty Crop Block Grant.  We have around 75 more to plant next year.  All in all we will plant somewhere around 40 varieties with varying scion and rootstock combinations.  We are looking at cold tolerance in both the lab and a field setting and monitoring for citrus greening.  We will plant everything from kumquat to grapefruit to finger limes.

Newly planted citrus trees at the Coastal REC this past week. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was pretty cloudy, but we had a couple beautiful days that reached the 80s. Though we’ve had a little bit of rain, the air has been thick with pine pollen. We’re seeing a few strawberries ripen but we’re still not at the point where we can open the U-Picks. We’re running a little behind where we’ve been in the past few years and I suspect all the cloudy weather we’ve had over the last month is partially to blame. I’m seeing a good bit of misshapen fruit, which is normal for the very first fruit that develop. This is usually related to pollination, but make sure you tissue sample to make sure boron levels are where they need to be. Watch out for the cool nights in the forecast later this week. We may need to cover. Spring planted brassica crops are looking good. Diamondback moths are showing up in places, especially near fields where a fall crop was grown through the winter, so be sure to destroy those fields once harvest is finished.”

Misshapen fruit are pretty common early in the season. Its usually related to pollination, but can be a sign of low boron. Tissue sample to make sure boron levels are adequate. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Spring planted brassicas are growing well and looking good. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peaches are progressing quickly with small fruit forming on early varieties. Georgia has reported plum curculio activity in the middle part of the state so orchards in the Ridge of SC can expect to see activity in about 2 weeks. Check the 2021 management guide for control options which include Imidan, Actara, Belay, and Avaunt. Strawberries farms are on track to begin picking regularly April 1. Spring greens are being transplanted as well.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Strawberries are ready to burst forth and there are already some fruit on Ruby June. Working to protect strawberries and peaches later on this week. A lot of summer crops will be going into the ground after Easter. Pickle growers are biting at the bit.  Most greens are just emerging. Cabbage is enjoying the weather and getting to what I call the whirl stage so hope we have no damaging winds to wring them off. Sweet potatoes slips are just emerging on the beds.”

Upstate

Weekly Field Update – 3/22/21

Join us this Wednesday (3/24/21) at 12:30 pm for a discussion on diamondback moth management in Brassica crops. It will be a relatively short meeting, lasting around 45 minutes, so tune in while you eat your lunch. Click here to register.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We got some needed rain but we got a lot of it in a short amount of time.  Winter peas and spring planted brassicas are looking good.  Tomato and squash are in the ground on some farms but because of the cooler weather and soil temperatures, really haven’t taken off yet.  I see a lot of brassica fields leftover from the fall.  These fields are harboring all of our insects and diseases that we will have to fight this coming season.  Mow these fields down and turn them under. Do not leave them.  I am seeing lots and lots of diamondback moths and black rot in these leftover fields.  Some more sad news this week from the Lowcounty as Mr. Adair McKoy, Sr. passed away this past week. Mr. McKoy was full of wisdom and had years and years of practical farming knowledge that he loved sharing with others.  Never did I visit him when I didn’t learn something new.  His love and care for the land was truly inspirational.”

Leftover collards from the fall that need to be mowed and tilled in. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A diamond back moth, one of thousands, I found in the leftover collard field. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had some cooler, wetter weather last week that slowed things down a bit in the fields. Several brassica fields that were planted in the fall and grew through the winter are right on the verge of bolting. If harvest is finished in these field, they need to be bush hogged and disked in as soon as possible to keep diamondback moths and any other caterpillars from breeding and making their way into spring planted fields. Strawberries are still coming along. There are lots of green fruit and a few are ripening here and there. I heard of the first few being picked in Lexington County last week. The weather conditions this week are going to be perfect again for Botrytis spore development, so don’t let up on spray programs.”

Fall planted mustard is just starting to send up flower heads. Photo from Justin Ballew
Lots of developing fruit on strawberries. Photo from Justin Ballew

Weekly Field Update – 3/15/21

If you haven’t already filled out the Clemson Agribusiness Team’s COVID-19 Ag Impacts Survey, please take a minute to do so now. Click the graphic below or scan the QR code with your iPhone to access the survey. If you have any questions about the survey or the results, please reach out to Kevin Burkett, Kburke5@clemson.edu, 540-239-4602.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops in the area are developing well with good fruit set. I am seeing a little gray mold around, so sanitation is going to be key as well as fungicide applications. There are also a few thrips in some crops, so scouting for these pests will be very important. Peaches and blueberries are blooming with little evidence of any chill injury from last weeks overnight lows in the upper 20’s. Asparagus crops are beginning to come to market with some chill affected spears early last week. With the dry weather conditions, field work and land prep is going well with plastic being laid for melon crops.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Great week of weather in the Lowcountry which has really improved the way things are looking. Greens, lettuces, root crops, and strawberries are looking good. The strawberries are absolutely loaded up with blossoms right now and are still putting on crowns. Fall planted cover crops are finishing up and being turned under. A bit of sad news this week as Author “Ikee” Freeman passed away. Ikee was a huge supporter of Clemson Extension and the farming traditions in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. His friendship, mentorship, leadership, and sense of humor will be missed by many.”

A fall planted daikon radish cover crop is flowering which provides early season nectar, pollen, and habitat for beneficial insects and bees. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had another beautiful week of weather last week that really pushed plants along. Strawberries have a ton of blooms on them now. The weather has been pretty dry the last two weeks, but with a few days of rain in the forecast for this week, now would be a good time to throw one of the site specific fungicides into your fungicide rotation. Temperatures are still in the perfect range for Botrytis spore development (60-70 degrees F) and with moisture returning, we could see a lot of Botrytis in the next week or two.

Lots of blooms present now that we need to protect from Botrytis. Photo from Justin Ballew.
These are the site specific fungicides listed on the MyIPM app with the best efficacy for Botrytis control on strawberries. It would be a good idea to apply one of these ahead of the rain this week.

Sarah Scott reports, “Last week’s warm temperatures have pushed peaches into bloom. There was a significant increase in open buds from the beginning to end of the week. Early varieties are near 90% bloom. Temperatures look like they will level out in the next 7 days which is good as temperatures that are way above normal can lead to developmental damage for fruit set. Some pruning is still underway, as well as bloom sprays for blossom blight using products like Captan or chlorothalonil.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “So far peach season is off to great start. We got all of our chill hours in and are between pink and 5% blooms on all large scale varieties, with a few oddballs further along. Plum growers are even further along and many are preparing for bloom fungicide applications with primarily Bravo (Chlorothalonil). I will be repeating last years testing of new biological, Ecoswing, in bloom this week compared with Bravo. Strawberry production is progressing nicely. This week looks good as far as frost but things change quickly, so all growers will be intimately aware of every weather change at this point. I was very happy to help with a new 10 acre pecan orchard planted last week. It encouraged me because several local growers, University of Georgia specialist, a retired NRCS conservationist, and myself all worked together to help a widow in need. Her planning and execution was impeccable and diligent.”

10 acres of new pecan trees planted last week. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 3/8/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Anyone planting spring broccoli should be wary of the cold weather we have had regarding soil herbicide interactions. Be careful with Pre-transplant applications of Devrinol and to a lesser extent Dual Magnum, as they can cause some stunting when soil temperatures are cooler. Goal or Goaltender is the safest pre-transplant herbicide applied when the soil temperatures based on field studies in Charleston.”

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some sunshine last week which really brightened everything up. The last few nights have been cool with some frost on the ground in the mornings. Things are starting to green up and fields are drying out enough to plant. We are still direct-seeding crops around the region and will begin transplanting tomatoes in some areas this week. I spent last week checking strawberry fields to make sure things were good to go before they really bust out. I have been helping folks calibrate their drip fertigation systems for the upcoming season. If you think you need a hand with this please let me know. Dialing in exactly how much fertilizer to use each day or week can really increase yields and lessen the amount of fertilizer that is leached. Leaching fertilizer means your plants aren’t taking it up, thus costing you money.”

Venturi type fertigation injector on a strawberry farm.  Dialing in your fertility can really increase yields and reduce leaching of fertilizer. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A nice patch of ball clover in the drive row of strawberry.  We planted this to hold the soil, reduce sand on the berries, withstand foot traffic, and bring in early season beneficials to help with thrips control. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had several beautiful, sunny days last week. The warm days seemed to really push plants along. Last night got cool (29 degrees at my house) and strawberry growers had to pull row covers over the fields to protect the blooms. We have some small, developing fruit now that would easily be damaged without row covers. I’m seeing very few spider mites in fields, even though conditions have turned dry here in the midlands. Remember that Botrytis spore production is high when temperatures are in the 60 to 70 degree range, so we need to be staying on top of our spray programs right now. In other news, brassica planting continues and for now caterpillar pressure seems to be light.”

Small developing strawberries like this one can be damaged easily by cold. Photo from Justin Ballew
Internal discoloration of the two strawberries on top indicate cold damage. These fruit will not ripen and will become excellent sources of Botrytis inoculum. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Boy, it got a bit chilly last night. Still looking at temperatures for the area, but it would be a safe bet that much of the area saw 28 degrees or lower. Strawberries were covered, so little problems there. Blueberries did see some damage on blooms that had fully opened. Most of the flowers were still in the Early Pink Bud stage or at Budbreak, so no damage to those blooms. Frost protection could have saved those flowers and potential fruit, but it is still early in the season. Keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t see any more nights of freezing temperatures.”

Early pink stage in bluberry flowering. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Damaged corollas (flowers) on blueberries. Likely experienced 28 degrees or lower. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Weekly Field Update – 3/1/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next meetings will be the 2nd and 3rd peach sessions on Thursday 3/4. We hope to see you there!

Also, join us Tuesday from 11:30 to 12:00 for the new, weekly “SC Grower Exchange” where we’ll discuss a little more about what’s going on in the fields and take questions from the audience. Click here to join the discussion via Zoom.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Following a few days of warmer conditions, crops are moving on strongly. Flowering and fruit set is occurring in strawberry crops. At present spider mites in treated crops are at very low populations, but with warmer weather, populations can increase rapidly. As we are entering flowering and fruit set, sanitation and fungicide applications will be required to keep gray mold managed. Remember to rotate FRAC codes to avoid resistance build up. Fertigation is being applied and it will be well worth while taking a tissue test from crops. Blueberries in the area are showing bud swell with early varieties showing open flower.”

Zack Snipes reports, “With the warm and DRY weather last week and for most of the week this week, farmers have been able to get out and work in the fields. Spring crops are going in the ground where it is dry enough to plant. The warm weather this past week and this coming week will probably push 2020 brassicas to bolt (flower). If you have any left in the fields, it might be best to get them out as soon as possible. Stay on top of sanitation for berries and it’s time to start fertigating them if you haven’t started that already.”

Warm weather can cause collards that have grown through the winter to bolt (flower). This plant is just beginning to develop a flower head. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had several beautiful, warm days last week. Strawberry growers used that opportunity to pull the row covers off the fields, allowing the plants to catch some rays. Growth is starting to pick up and I’m seeing a good many blooms. The weather conditions are favorable now for Botrytis development (high moisture and temps in the 60s-70s), so we need to begin protecting our blooms with preventative fungicide sprays. Check out this great video put together by Dr. Guido Schnabel’s former student Madeline Dowling for a refresher on the Botrytis life cycle. Download the MyIPM app for more disease and fungicide information. Now is also a good time to start tissue sampling to make sure we’re fertigating the right amounts of nutrients.

Starting to see plenty of blooms on the strawberries around the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.
This dead flower is already developing Botrytis spores. Spore development is high when temperatures are in the 60 to 70 degree range and moisture is high. Start protecting blooms now. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Growers took advantage of some sunny, dry weather and continued to apply copper and dormant oil sprays in peach fields to combat potential bacterial spot issues, as well as scale in the coming season. Pruning and orchard floor management continue as well as some late planting, due to wet field conditions. Strawberries have been covered to give them a pre-season push. Some mite issues are present but under control.”

Workers apply a dormant oil application on peach field in Edgefield Co. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Growers are working between the rains to finish up pruning. The SC Apple Grower meeting was held on Thursday afternoon virtually with lots of great presentations and discussion. During the meeting, Dr. Mike Parker (NCSU) mentioned the distinct difference in apple and peach pruning, and how using the same crews can sometimes lead to problems. Peaches fruit laterally along limbs which means heading cuts (pruning off the tip of a branch) is the common and acceptable practice.  Where as apples fruit terminally, so heading cuts could potentially remove a significant amount of potential fruit. Make sure crews are well aware of the difference!”

Pruning apples at Hollifield’s Orchard with pneumatic pruners. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Weekly Field Update – 2/22/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next meeting will be this Thursday (2/25) from 2-4 pm about Apple Production. We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Another rainy, wet, and cold week last week.  Some sunshine and warmer temperatures coming this week.  All of our fruit crops have received their chill hours and are just waiting to burst out for spring.  I expect to really see fruit crops take off this week.  Make sure that you have a fertility plan for the spring crop.  Don’t let your crop be without fertility at the critical moments. For more information on fruit fertility visit https://smallfruits.org/ipm-production-guides/.  For smaller farms, Clemson’s Home Garden and Information Center is a wonderful resource as well.”

Early varieties of highbush blueberries are in bloom right now. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “To say last week was wet would be an understatement. We received about 4 inches of rain at my house last week and the ground was already saturated before it started. I’ve seen water standing even in sandy fields. On the bright side, irrigation ponds are looking full. Most strawberry growers have covered their fields to protect the blooms now. This means we should start seeing our first ripe fruit around mid-March. Don’t forget to start tissue sampling so we can make sure the plants are getting everything they need as they are beginning to produce fruit.”

Row covers on a strawberry field protect the blooms from late winter/early spring cold. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Wet, wet, wet… Last week’s rain has cause some significant ponding and flooding throughout the Pee Dee. Last week, I had a number of conversations with growers concerning application of fumigants for early crops – timing, too wet, how effective? Not a lot of good options with soil moisture being so high, right now. We really need some sunshine and a steady breeze to help dry fields out. Wet fields are preventing spraying, hindering application of row covers and hindering pruning of perennial crops (blueberries, muscadines, and blackberries). Some crops are starting to “back up” due to the wet soils. An application of mefenoxam (Ridomil) or phosphorous acid (K-phite), in locations where root rot is suspected, would be beneficial.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “A beautiful weekend of weather was much needed for tree fruit growers getting in orchards and finishing up dormant pruning for the year. Pruning out dead, diseased, and damaged limbs, opening the canopy, and reducing overall vegetative growth is extremely important for tree fruit integrated pest management (IPM). Pruning increases light penetration and air movement, reducing disease potential, and also allows for better spray coverage during application. More rain today and even more projected toward the end of the week will continue to delay any kind of field work, as the ground is oversaturated. Don’t forget, this Thursday is the SC Apple Grower Meeting via Zoom from 2-4pm! Check it out on the upcoming events page!

Andy Rollins reports, “Found major scale problem on large scale muscadine producer’s farm. Scale was identified on the main scaffolds and also on last years wood. Mineral oil (Damoil) is labeled but is recommended at much lower rate than other fruits. Only 1% by volume or 1 gallon per 100 gallons of water, but needs 200 gallons of total solution applied per acre to get sufficient coverage. This is because the oil needs to get into very tight areas where the scale can reside. We also recommended the use of a labeled insecticide with the oil to increase efficacy. Once the plants come out of dormancy other products are available but determination will be made at that time if necessary. Peach and strawberry production had no major issues to address.  One strawberry farm began picking the last week of January this year in high tunnel production and picked 30 flats of fruit and is still producing.

Scale on the main scaffolds of muscadines. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Up close view of scale on muscadine scaffolds. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 2/15/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. There are 2 coming up this week: Strawberry Fertility Wednesday (2/17) and Produce Safety Rule Training on Thursday and Friday afternoon (2/18 and 2/19).  We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I haven’t been out in the fields lately due to all of the rain. Hopefully it will dry out some this week as we really need some bluebird sky days. If and when you are able to get out in the strawberry fields, it is time to put out boron. Boron helps with flower and fruit development. If you miss this application you will have lots of “bull nose” fruit in a few weeks. We recommend 1/8 lb of actual boron. Please see the picture for calculations of different products. Be extremely careful with mixing, calibrating, and applying boron as boron is a great herbicide if overapplied. Boron can be sprayed or run through the drip system.

Be sure to put out the correct amount of boron. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been raining a lot since Thursday (2/11) here in the midlands. The soil is saturated in some of the less sandy areas and it will be a while before fields are dry enough to work. Sandier areas likely won’t be delayed much. Before the rain came, folks were harvesting some nice looking greens, though I am seeing some disease pop up in places. Strawberries are still coming along. I know of one fairly large grower that has already started protecting blooms. More will probably start soon.”

Good looking mustard ready for picking. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “It has been extremely wet throughout Aiken and Edgefield Counties the past week, making field work challenging. In peach orchards, we are continuing to prune and trying to get out dormant oil applications and copper. It appears there is a shortage of Captan this year. There are alternatives for use during bloom as well as at petal fall, just something to look into if you usually use this product. You can read about some alternatives here https://site.extension.uga.edu/peaches/2021/02/captan-shortage/ . Again, it looks like we will have plenty of chill hours for the crop this year with Musser Farm sitting at over 1000 and around 950 hours in Johnston.”

Weekly Field Update – 2/8/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. There are 3 coming up this week: Small Fruits this evening (2/8), Peaches on Thursday afternoon (2/11), and Brassicas Thursday evening (2/11).  We hope to see you there!

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “With the cold temperatures we have been consistently having, it might be good to use Prefar or Dacthal for PRE herbicides instead of Treflan in new collard plantings to avoid injury.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was pretty cool and it looks like this week will be about the same. Things are a little slow in the fields, but folks are preparing land for spring plantings and harvesting a little mustard, collards, and herbs. Strawberry growers are still working on sanitizing. Now is also a good time to make sure drip systems are hooked up and ready to go when it’s time to start fertigating. Deer are still wearing out the plants in some fields. Temporary deer fences aren’t that expensive and they can pay for themselves by preventing the degree of damage seen in the photo below.”

This picture was taken last Thursday (2/4). After 3 and a half months in the ground, these plants should be significantly larger, but the deer are wearing them out. A fence should have been used here. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Busted feeding on strawberry leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “We are still in the middle of establishing new peach orchards and inspecting strawberry plantings. I met with new and experienced growers and want to point out most common mistake made. Strawberry wise, I found mites on only one farm growing chandler plugs. Some of the mites were still in diapause (hibernation) and will be orangish in color but there were plenty of active adults and eggs out as well on that farm. Expensive miticides are not effective if mites are not present. The most common mistake made in planting peaches is planting them too deep. To look at the picture below, you wouldn’t think anything was wrong, but the first main root is actually about 4 inches too deep. Please make sure when you are finished planting that the first main root is within the top inch of the soil. An easy way to tell they are too deep is if they have created a hole around the stem from wind movement. Anywhere you are growing in heavier clay soil this becomes even more important. We are still spraying oil and copper on peaches and probably will continue till bloom.

This peach tree was planted about 4 inches too deep. Photo from Andy Rollins.
If trees are planted too deep they will create a hole in the soil around them as they move in the wind. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 2/1/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next one is this Thursday evening (2/4/21) from 6 to 8:30 and will be about cucurbit production. We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops are developing well however we are seeing gray mold and Phomopsis blight in some crops. Sanitation can really help prevent botrytis spread as we move forward when allied to fungicide applications. Keep scouting for spider mites as there are active populations in some crops. Now is a great time of year to think about maintenance of equipment be that for bed formation, cultivation for spring crops, and most important application equipment.” 

Zachary Boone Snipes reports, “I feel like Forrest Gump describing the weather as of late.  “One day it starting raining and it didn’t stop for four months.”  We are extremely wet in the Lowcountry which is delaying a lot of ground prep for the upcoming season.  Stay out of the fields if they are wet as equipment will compact soil and make matters worse than they already are.  This is the perfect time of year to order and stock up on pesticides, fertilizers, seeds, calibrate sprayers, clean ditches, sharpen tools, clean packing sheds, etc.  Preventative maintenance and getting prepared for the upcoming season will lead to less stress and better management decisions down the road.  This would also be a great time to explore all the links that lead to resources on SCGrower.com as well as to curl up with your Southeast Vegetable Crop Handbook.” 

French drains are being installed in lower lying areas of some fields. Photo from Zachary Boone Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little warmer for most of the past week and we received a little more rain. The strawberry fields I’ve looked at in the past week averaged 3-4 crowns. Growers have been working on sanitizing dead leaves and flower buds from their fields to keep botrytis inoculum down. I’ve gotten a couple calls recently about whether it’s time to start protecting blooms. It’s still a little early in my opinion. Remember, there is about a 4 week time span from bloom to ripe berry, so saving blooms now would have people picking around the first of March. I’m not seeing enough blooms out there right now to make saving them worthwhile. I would rather let the plants grow for a few more weeks.”

These plants were recently sanitized and are looking good. It would be best give them a few more weeks to grow before protecting blooms. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “As of this morning at Musser Farm we are reporting 850 chilling hours and 50 chill portions. In Johnston we are sitting at 788 chilling hours and 46 chill portions. Chilling hours are measured between temperatures of 32-45 for this calculation.” 

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Heavy rains over the last week have put a significant damper on any field prep and planting for early season vegetables in the upstate. Pruning tree fruits is in full swing, and chilling hours are on track.”

Weekly Field Update – 1/25/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next one is this Wednesday evening (1/27/21) from 6 to 8:30 and will be about tomato and pepper production. We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops in the area are looking good with good crown development. We are seeing open flowers and some fruit set based on warmer conditions. These crops are cause for some concern as we are likely to see damage from forecast cold snaps. There is evidence of botrytis (gray mold) in crops on cold damaged flowers and fruit. Sanitation can really help to mitigate the spread of the disease. Spider mites remain active and in places are requiring treatment. Remember to avoid pyrethroids for mite control as these can flare mite populations.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The three components of the disease triangle are a conducive environment, the host plant present, and a virulent pathogen.  With that being said; It has been pretty wet as of late, we have warmer weather coming this week, and I have seen pathogens in our fields.  I fully expect some diseases to really take hold and start to spread this week.  For strawberries, make sure to clean dead tissue (leaves, blooms, fruit, etc) and for other crops removal of dead tissue and a preventative fungicide application (conventional or organic) can really help you get ahead of the fight against diseases.  Also, my pet peeve…get your deer fences up!!!! This is the time of year that deer run out of food (and corn piles) and will meander into your strawberries and eat thousands of dollars’ worth of profits.”

The two-tiered fencing system, like the one shown in this trail cam photo, will keep curious deer out of your fields. Deer Fencing.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “This past week was a little warmer and more sunny, but not by much. Crops are still growing slowly as a result. I’m seeing a lot of deer damage in strawberry fields that boarder the woods. Nothing reduces yield potential in strawberries faster than deer. Once they start nibbling leaves off, those plants will always be behind and they’ll never yield the same as a healthy, undamaged plant. Keep in mind that wildlife in the field is also a significant food safety risk. Once we get into bloom, this will become a major concern. Fencing is the most effective means of keeping deer out of the field. Fencing doesn’t have to be expensive or permanent. Check out this publication.”

Look at all those stems where leaves used to be. The deer have set these plants way back and they will never catch up. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “New plantings of peach trees are going in along the Ridge. A weather station went up in Johnston at one of our variety trials this past fall and we are watching to see chilling hours accumulated. Currently we are at 714 chill hours and 43 chill portions looking at temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees. The upstate at the Musser location is sitting at 773 chill hours and 46 chill portions. It’s looking like we will have no problem meeting all of our chilling requirements for the season.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “I keep finding more strawberry fields with spidermites.  Some fields are damaged or devastated by deer.  If you ever let deer get a taste of strawberry plants it is very difficult or almost impossible to stop them.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Strawberry plants are doing well in the upstate of SC. Some plants are smaller than others mainly due to planting time. Growers need to look for uneven growth with in a field which can be indication of root rot. Also, some growers are spraying Rovral because of early dead blooms producing excessively high amounts grey mold. Some are using it with Captan others with Thiram. Thiram would give some deer deterrence. Growers need to be very careful with covers this time of year. They can force even more unwanted early blooms. Remember 18 degrees hurts crown 30 degrees kill blooms. So we are still in the protect plant time, not the protect bloom time. There are several farms planting peach trees now and still others finishing ground preparations. We also have a new pecan farm whose trees I was able to inspect and help with last minute details before planting this week. I hope and pray all of you stay safe amid the Covid19 pressure around us. The loss of a farming friend and leader of men, Mr. Ervin Lineberger will be greatly missed.”

Strawberries are looking good in the Upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Strawberries are looking good in the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.