Field Update – 1/27/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “As the weather dipped last week I had lots of calls about covering strawberries.  Some growers thought they had enough plant and blooms that they should cover while others left them exposed to the cold.  On most farms, the frost damage was very minimal with only blooms facing upwards having damage.  Whether you covered or not, it is imperative that you sanitize your plants by removing dead fruit, blossoms, and leaf tissue.  Start clean this year.  Now would be a great time to get an application of boron in.  Boron is used in fruit and flower development.  Many times gnarled fruit can be attributed to boron deficiency.  1/8 of an actual pound of boron is recommended and can be applied via drip or spray.  Be careful to mix correctly as boron is an excellent herbicide if rates are too high.  Don’t forget about the Preplant Growers Meeting at the USDA in Charleston at 8:30-lunch on Wednesday.”

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Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The first part of last week was cold. There were a lot of blooms and small green fruit on the strawberries that were damaged, but it was too early to be saving those anyway.  Just make sure to remove the dead fruit and blooms by the time we start saving blooms in the spring.  Brassicas made it through the cold with little damage, but Sclerotinia white mold continues to progress in some fields.”

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Strawberry blooms turning brown from cold damage. Photo from Justin Ballew

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Sclerotinia white mold infection on a collard stem. Photo from Justin Ballew

 

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still harvesting cabbage, kale, collards, and other greens at this time. Wet weather is causing some rot issues in fields especially in low spots with heavy soils. Peach trees are being planted. The Ridge area has not accumulated enough chill hours at this time for higher chill varieties but the extended forecast looks promising for that to happen. Weeds are popping up in strawberry fields from the warmer temperatures. Henbit growing in the holes with strawberry plants needs to be hand pulled as there is not an effective herbicide to use that will not cause injury to the strawberries.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Spider mite populations in strawberries have been steady in our area. This cold weather has put them behind, but they will recover. Remember to start spraying your protective fungicides on strawberries as soon as possible. Processing greens are doing great with some bacterial spots here and there. Fresh market collards are presenting cold damage across the county. Sclerotinia is still prevalent in many brassica crops such as cauliflower and cabbage. Please refer to the vegetable handbook for proper fungicide recommendations.”

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Cold damage on collard foliage. Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cold temps set flowering/fruiting of strawberries back to ground zero.  Growers got some land for greens bedded.”

Field Update – 1/21/20

Remember to keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” tab for new meeting and workshop announcements from around the state.

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath with more on white mold. “Growers who grow sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima, syn. Alyssum maritimum) as a nectar source for beneficial insects should be aware that sweet alyssum is susceptible to white mold. Diseased alyssum could increase the level of the pathogen in soil if the white mold fungus forms sclerotia on diseased plants. Growers who have alyssum in or along their fields in winter or early spring should check for symptoms of white mold. Symptoms include collapse of part or all of the plant and yellowing or blackening of tissue.”

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Sweet alysum is increasingly being grown in or around vegetable fields as a nectar source for beneficial insects, but is also susceptible to Sclerotinia white mold.

Coastal 

Zack Snipes reports, “The cold weather (at least a few days of it) has showed up.  This cold weather might slow our strawberries down which wouldn’t be a bad thing.  I have seen ripe berries on some farms.  The question I keep getting is should we start fertilizing to push our berries and cover them.  Most farms I have been on do not have a plant that is large enough to support bearing fruit.  Most farms have 3-4 crowns right now per plant and I would personally like to see that 4-5 before we really start pushing them.  Keep in mind that if we begin to fertilize and cover this time of year we will be picking in about 35 days.  Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself. Do you plan on opening the last week in February? Do you plan on covering each night the temperature dips into the low 30’s?  Are you ready to apply protective fungicide sprays starting now? Another question I have gotten recently is when to cover and when to not cover.  The chart taken from Strawberry Plasticulture: A Grower’s Guide shows the critical temperatures for each of the bloom and fruiting stages.”

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Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was fairly mild, but it turned cold over the weekend. Lows have been in the upper 20’s the last couple of mornings.  We’ve seen a lot of blooms developing on strawberries over the last two weeks and this cold is going to take them out.  I’ve been getting a lot of questions about covering, but it’s still too early to start protecting blooms.  Letting them die right now is the best thing to do and it won’t hurt yields.  More blooms will develop when the weather begins to warm up. Just be sure to sanitize the plants well in the early spring to remove all the dead blooms that can become inoculum for Botrytis.

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Lots of blooms developed over the last two weeks, but will die in the cold this week. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “The weather has returned to a more seasonal pattern… for at least a little while. Collards and cabbage are still looking very good (for the most part). Sclerotinia is being found (localized) in fields – effecting cabbage more than other brassica crops. Strawberries are looking good. Other than some early flowering (due to the recent heat), no problems are being seen in the field. Muscadines are currently being pruned, as well as blueberries and blackberries. The recent warm weather has begun to push some early bud break and flowering on some blueberries, on both highbush and rabbiteyes. Hopefully, the return of colder temps will delay any further growth until a little later into the season… because it is still a bit early for them to wake up.

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Sclerotinia showing up in some brassica fields. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Collards are still looking good in the upper Pee Dee. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Greens including collards are damaged severely by cold. Demand for greens has dropped drastically but some small growers have covered to maintain supply. Most strawberry growers are not protecting from cold and allowing cold to kill flowers and fruit.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports,  “With almost 16.8 inches of rain recorded for January so far at the Oconee Airport, the Upstate is soggy to say the least. Cold temperatures have finally arrived, and pruning has commenced in full force for tree fruit growers. Apples are just about finished with most growers waiting a few more weeks to start any peach pruning. We are finally significantly adding to chilling hours.”

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Before (left) and after (right) pruning of semi-dwarf variety apple.

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.”