Weekly Field Update – 1/19/21

Remember to check out the “Upcoming Events” tab for upcoming meetings. The next one is this Wednesday (1/21/21) at 6pm. Dr. Brian Ward will be discussing fertility for organic crops.

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Burndown herbicide efficacy can be reduced in colder weather, especially systemic products such as glyphosate (Reduced translocation in the cold means herbicide does not move through the plant as much). A contact herbicide like Gamoxone is not significantly impacted by cold weather, thus it might be a good option to use on medium to small weeds. If you have to use glyphosate make sure that the formulation is loaded with a non-ionic surfactant (NIS) and then add 2.5% Ammonium Sulfate (AMS).  If the glyphosate formulation is not loaded with NIS, added an NIS product (should contain at last 90% active ingredient) such as Induce at 0.25% (quarter of 1%) in the tank mix.”

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Now is the perfect time to gear up for the upcoming season with preventative maintenance on sprayers and tractors.  Proper spray coverage is absolutely essential when spraying expensive pesticides and nutrients.  Why would you buy a jug of pesticide for $800 and not have it properly applied?  I was at a farm last week working on a spray trial and we took a few hours to clean out screens, filters, and orifices in the sprayer.  The sprayer I was working on had 5 out of 10 nozzles completely clogged and corroded.  We would only get half or less coverage since the nozzles were so clogged.  Once we cleaned everything, we needed to recalibrate our sprayer since we were actually putting out product through all of the nozzles.  Take the time and get things ready for the year.”

Proper spray coverage on a nice looking crop of strawberries.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week stayed pretty cool (high temps in the 50s), wet, and cloudy. Crops aren’t growing very fast right now. We still have a few greens being harvested, but we’ve slowed down from the New Years rush. Most of the strawberries I’ve looked at are still around the 2-3 crown stage. We’re seeing some aphids here and there, but those are rarely anything to be concerned about. Instead, keep checking for mites. Spider mites are active when daytime temperatures are over 50 degrees, so even though it’s chilly to us, they’re active for most of the winter. Fields planted adjacent to tomatoes back in the fall need to be scouted especially well.”

Great stand of rye between the rows of this strawberry field. This will help tremendously with weed suppression. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Be sure to get out and scout your strawberries. Starting to see a fair amount of Phomopsis in the fields. Captan will give some control, but Rally is a better option. Also, starting to see some Botrytis showing up on ripening fruit… that fruit that has been able to escape frost events and develop. Removal of infected fruit and dead leaves will help reduce pathogen when it comes time to flower and fruit. Across the northern portion of the Pee Dee the strawberry crop is pretty varied in development and appearance. Some plantings are well behind others. This is primarily due to the frequent and heavy rains since planting. Any plants that may have been set (even the least bit) low, experienced loose soil to be washed down around the crown, burying the crown too deep. With the crown being buried, the plants were either stunted or killed. Stunted plants can recover, but likely will not develop and yield properly come spring. Now is the time to begin winter pruning of blueberries, blackberries and muscadines… as well as many fruit trees. Proper winter pruning will go a long way towards improving yield, plant health, overall plant architecture and size management. Ideally, winter pruning for perennial fruiting plants should be performed between early January through early March.”

Botrytis already showing up on strawberries. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Wet, wet, wet.  Badly need to start bedding for stale-bed-culture.  Putting off bedding sweet potatoes until March.  I have seen a lot of spider mites on strawberries and started to spray to get them under control.  However, too wet to get tractor in fields so many farmers are using backpack mist sprayers to get job done.”

Weekly Field Update – 1/11/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Vegetable crops are growing out of the impacts of frost well. There is active Alternaria in places on brassica crops. Insect activity in vegetable crops in the area remains low. Strawberry crops are moving well with a few spider mites and aphids being observed. Remember if mite treatment is needed use a specific miticide to target the pest to avoid flaring populations. If you need a second pair of eyes to help scout then please give me a shout.”

Zack Snipes reports, “I’ve been getting a good many calls about strawberries in recent weeks.  The warm weather has really pushed our berries, perhaps too far along for this time of year.  I know of a couple of farms that are already harvesting which I’m not sure is a great thing this early in the season.  Most fields look good with great growth but we only have a few crowns for each plant.  Hopefully some cool weather will come in and slow them down.  Make sure to sanitize the plants by removing all dead tissue and put out a preventative spray once you are done sanitizing.  Good preventative sanitization right now can do wonders for disease management later in the season.  Now is a good time to manage weeds before they get too large.  And while I am at it…now is the perfect time to get ready for the season by checking sprayers, getting fertigation systems set up and calibrated, and purchasing pesticides you know you will need for the season.” 

A sanitized plant and the dead and diseased tissue that came off of it. This needs to be taken out of the field and disposed of. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Corn spurry is a weed that needs to be managed now before its too late. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather has remained cool, so everything is growing pretty slowly. We had another very rainy day last week and we got a little over 2 inches at my house. That’s over 6 inches for me so far in 2021 and I’ve had some folks tell me they’ve gotten over 8. We are seeing some cold damage to strawberry foliage, but nothing to worry about long term. Just make sure to sanitize any dead leaves and flowers as the temperatures warm in the spring. I’ve already seen some Botrytis developing on dead flowers, so we definitely need to remove these sources of disease inoculum. I’m counting 2-3 crowns per plant right now. If you’re behind that, it may be helpful to put row covers on for a couple weeks. Just scout for spider mites carefully first.”

Cold damage around the margins of strawberry leaves from the hard freeze right after Christmas. It didn’t get cold enough to damage the crowns. Photo from Justin Ballew
This bloom was killed by cold weather. It’s difficult to see here, but there are already a few botrytis spores developing on the flower. If not sanitized, this could become a significant source of inoculum. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cold hurt green winter strawberries more than ripe ones due to increased sugar in ripe ones. Still got some squash producing in high tunnels if covered inside tunnel with row covers. We’re bedding green fields to allow weeds to germinate so they can be killed using stale-bed culture.”

Weekly Field Update – 1/4/21

Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a great holiday season and is off to a good start in 2021. We have several virtual grower meetings coming up over the next two months, so keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” page for info. Also, don’t forget the Southeastern Regional Fruit and Vegetable conference kicks off virtually this week and it’s not too late to register.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Firstly I would like to wish everyone a happy ,and successful 2021.   Crops in the area have slowed down with the cooler weather and we are seeing a reduction in caterpillar activity. Strawberries look good however it would be advisable in advanced crops to remove any flowers to reduce the botrytis pressure later in the season. Winter vegetables are looking very good with low levels of Alternaria leaf spot in some crops. If in doubt scout.

Zack Snipes reports, “One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to be more proactive rather than reactive.  I would like to extend that mentality to my field work as well.  This year I really want to help growers nip problems in the bud before they become problems.  Weekly calls, texts, check-ups, and regular visits can help both of us achieve our goals.  Give me a shout in 2021.”

Let’s work together before this happens. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We’ve had a lot of rain to start off the new year. A day or so after Christmas we saw temperatures down in the low 20’s and ended up with some cold damage on greens. They should grow out of it just fine. Strawberries are coming along. We are seeing spider mites build up in places, requiring treatment. Keep scouting regularly, even though it’s cool outside. Let me know if you need a second pair of eyes. On another note, I noticed daffodils starting to come up in my yard a few days before Christmas. Can’t ever remember seeing them emerge that early.”

Cold damage on mustard greens from the recent dip into the low 20s. Photo from Justin Ballew.
The view of spider mites on the underside of strawberry leaf through a 10X hand lens. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Field preparation for new peach tree plantings is underway along the Ridge. Some growers are using a plow to make berms to plant trees on to aid in disease management issues such as armillaria root rot. Lots of rain in the past week has made for muddy conditions.”

Freshly plowed peach field with berms for planting. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Very few greens undamaged after the cold if they weren’t either covered or protected in some way.  Strawberries are doing well. I hope there is not and I have not seen any cold damage of the crowns in the Pee Dee. I had 1 account where coyotes were biting through the row-covers to eat ripe strawberries.”

Weekly Field Update – 10/26/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “A good stand of fall cover crops will typically suppress most weeds. However, you may want to pursue herbicide options for cleaning up the weeds that have pushed through the cover crop canopy. If these cover crops act as buffers in fall vegetable crops, one has to proceed with caution regarding herbicide application. The best selective herbicide option for controlling broadleaf weeds in cereal rye would be a low volatility 2,4D or dicamba product ( the low volatility dicamba products may not be available right now).  Enlist One is a 2,4D choline formulation. Apply the herbicide with a hooded sprayer using nozzles that produce coarse droplets. We are approaching cooler temperatures so the conditions do not favor volatility as much as they did in late spring/summer. If you have a clover cover crop and do not want to kill it, do not spray 2,4D. Using a labeled graminicide (clethodim or sethoxydim products) in clover will provide control of grass weeds that have escaped the clover cover. Remember to read the label and use appropriate surfactants with the graminicides for maximizing activity”

A good fall cover crop can suppress late summer weeds and early winter weeds.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry plants and cut offs are going into the ground in the area.  Remember to check roots and crowns before planting and also supervise planting crews to ensure correct depth of planting is achieved. Caterpillar and whitefly on a range of fall crops, pressure remains high in the area so vigilance and regular scouting will be required to spot potential problems.”

Zack Snipes reports, “This past week was all about strawberries.  I visited many farms and saw lots of plastic being laid.  I checked many strawberry plants from a multitude of nurseries.  Overall the plants look ok this year. I haven’t found any glaringly obvious root or crown rots and very little foliar issues in our plugs and cutoffs.  Overall the plants are on the smaller side and I hope for a good fall growing season so they can size up a bit before going into the winter.  I saw, on a few farms, issues with calibration and equipment for fertilizer distribution.  If you need help calibrating or calculating fertilizer rates, please give me a call. I would be more than happy to come give you a hand.  I hate to even mention it but I am already seeing deer tracks in strawberry fields…if you need it…”

Imagine that…deer tracks in a strawberry field…Get up your fences! Photo from Zack Snipes.
Strawberry plugs about to go in a field.  Can you pick out the smaller, weaker trays of plants?.  I would plant these trays last. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Strawberry planting has wrapped up in the midlands and the earliest transplanted fields are already pushing out new leaves. This cooler, damp weather is much better for getting strawberries established than the dry, 95 degree days we saw this time last year. Be sure to go back through the fields shortly after planting to ensure the plants are set at the proper depth. If any were planted too deep or settled too much after the first overheard watering, gently pull them up to the proper depth and refirm the soil around them. This should be done before new roots start to form. Also, get ready for deer! it doesn’t take them long to find newly planted strawberries.”

Cutoff transplants pushing out new leaves less than a week after planting. Photo from Justin Ballew.
This transplant was either set too deep or it settled too much during the first overhead watering. If any plants are too deep, gently pull them up to the proper depth and repack the soil around them. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberry planting is going full pace. Much of the acreage was planted in the last half of last week. The remainder will be planted this week. So far, the transplants look very good. Acreage is up compared to last year. Brassicas are (for the most part) looking good. Insects have not been much of an issue – minimal caterpillar occurrences, occasional aphids, and some grasshopper damage. Some fields have experienced some plant stunting and plant losses due to persistent wet soil conditions (root rot). Die-off really started to show on affected plants with last week’s heat. Some growers will begin harvest next week.”

Strawberry field immediately after planting. Getting ready to turn on the overhead irrigation. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Aphids on turnip leaves. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Very little insect and disease problems on greens.  However seen a lot of B and Mg deficiencies.  Continues to harvest sweet potatoes yield is very good.  Some late Butterbeans and peas are planted.  Most strawberries are planted already some deer damage.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Late season rot issues have sent some apple growers looking for more answers with fungicide resistance testing. Apple pathologist Sara Villani’s lab at the MHCREC in Mills River, NC is conducting tests to look at resistance to specific modes of action(MOA) and fungicides in Apple production. Harvest in apples is about 80% complete with only a few varieties left to pick.”

Weekly Field Update 8/24/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “For the past few years, Orondis Opti on cucumber and cantaloupe and Orondis Ultra on pumpkin and watermelon have been the best fungicides to manage downy mildew. Based on results from a spring 2020 cucumber experiment at Coastal REC, Orondis is no longer the “silver bullet” it was 2 years ago. In my experiment, Orondis Opti rotated with Bravo controlled downy mildew in the early part of the season, but disease increased significantly during the latter part of the season and ended up higher than expected. Part of the shortcoming of the Orondis Opti/Bravo spray program was the Bravo rotation. Bravo sprayed by itself every other week did not control downy mildew at all, so spraying Orondis Opti/Bravo acted like Orondis Opti sprayed every other week, which was not enough. The labels for Orondis Opti and Orondis Ultra say they must be rotated with another fungicide. For the rest of the 2020 season, use Orondis Opti/Ranman + chlorothalonil on cucumber and cantaloupe, and Orondis Ultra rotated with Gavel or Ranman + chlorothalonil on pumpkin and watermelon. Always use the high rate (2.5 pints/acre) of Orondis products. Note that the mancozeb in Gavel or adding chlorothalonil helps to manage other foliar diseases like gummy stem blight and anthracnose. Yield data and input costs from my experiment are being analyzed to see if spraying Orondis leads to a higher net return despite the higher cost of this fungicide. Results will be presented at the virtual Cucurbit meeting in February 2021 to help growers plan downy mildew fungicide programs for the 2021 season.”

Cucurbit downy mildew continues to spread across the state.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Fall crops continue to grow well in the area.  Given the current weather patterns pests and disease are active in some crops particularly where there are volunteers remaining from previous crops.  Vigilance will be required in scouting an pesticide management programs.  If In doubt scout.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been cool, cloudy, and kind of pleasant outside this past week, though that has the vegetable crops growing a little slower. We’ve gotten some decent rains in most areas around the midlands as well. Bacterial spot is really showing up on fall tomatoes as a result of all the recent rain. It could be a bad fall for bacterial spot if the weather stays like this. Caterpillars are already out there on fall brassicas. It doesn’t take long once they’re planted. Start scouting, scout often, and rotate insecticides. Remember to contact one of us about screening your farm for insecticide resistance in diamondback moths once you start seeing populations build up.”

Bacterial spot and speck start on the bottom of the plant and can be splashed onto higher leaves and fruit by rain drops. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Start scouting for caterpillars as soon as your fall brassicas are planted. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Both fruit and vegetable development has slowed a bit due to cloudy conditions. Sunny conditions needed. Sweetpotatoes are sizing well and will be ready for harvest soon. Fall cucumbers and squash should soon be ready to start harvesting. Fall brassicas are being planted now. Muscadine crop is getting close to harvest. Noble is around 90% ripe; Carlos is around 60%; Doreen is still around 25%. Brix (sugar content) is off due to rain and cloudy conditions. Noble and Carlos brix are averaging around 11% with a low of 9.2% and a high of 15.0%. Doreen is averaging less than 10%. Did find a few Doreen that brix was over 19%… candy. Sunny conditions definitely needed.”

Noble muscadines around 90% ripe. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Beginning to harvest processing sweet potatoes but some have been stunted and delayed by excessive rain.  Spraying processing peas for cowpea curculio.  Starting to plant processing greens by seed.  Even though lots of rain and having to mud through fields cucumbers for pickles are being harvested and still being planted.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Blueberry pruning is best served for the dormant time of year late January-late February.  I met with a commercial grower who was anxious about getting started early partly because he has many plants completely unproductive for the second year in a row. I like to call this revenge pruning as that is the primary motivation. Be careful, you could end up hurting yourself more in the long run. In his case, it was all about light and proper pruning to encourage light down through the canopy. The orignial spacing of Rabbiteye type varieties was very close so we also considered killing every other plant to get more light into the bushes but this would not replace the need for properly selectively removing a few of the oldest canes each year, spacing them out so there is better light penetration. For a detailed explanation, please see NCSU Blueberry specialist Bill Cline’s presentation.”

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 – 5/4/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We have had a very wet spring with some places receiving over 13 inches of rain this month.  Crops look surprisingly good considering the excess rain and cooler nights.  I have seen an increase in worm activity on brassicas, particularly the cabbage looper.  With all the rain, I have seen some hot spots of bacterial spot in tomato.  If you scout from your truck or tractor, you will not find bacterial spot until much later in the growing season.  The disease starts on the bottom leaves of your tomatoes and works its way up throughout the season.  Preventative products such as copper, mancozeb, and plant activator products are the only control measures we have. Get out and scout and look very closely, as the disease is very difficult to see in the beginning stages.”

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Cabbage looper on a cabbage leaf. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Bacterial spot starts on the bottom leaves and works its way up the plant throughout the season. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was really nice this past week. We got about an inch of rain early Thursday morning and it has been breezy since, so all the water dried up fast.  The weather conditions have been perfect for grey mold in strawberries and it is showing up in areas where folks are falling behind in sanitation. It looks like there are more blooms on the plants this week, but with temperatures in the 80’s for a few days, that may slow down some.  Thrips are still an issue in places and treatments are going out, so keep scouting. If you need to make an application for thrips, do it early in the morning or late in the day to avoid spraying foraging pollinators. Keep looking for spider mites as well.”

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Rotting berries covered in Botrytis spores can go unnoticed in between plants.  Every time the wind blows, spores from these berries will be dispersed to other areas of the field. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peaches are progressing nicely in the Ridge area. Growers started harvesting early varieties. Some issues of bacterial canker are still becoming more noticeable in later varieties. The first sprays for scale crawlers have been applied and growers are continuing weed and orchard management sprays. Still picking strawberries. Crops for summer harvest are being planted still such as tomatoes and cucurbits. We’ve had some nice rainfall over the past week to keep soil moisture up but we have had high winds that have caused some limb breakage in orchards and stress on young vegetable transplants in the field.”

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Russetting on peach, possibly from earlier thrips damage. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Winds are awful and damaging crops (sandblasting, wringing off plants, leaving spots on leaves and stems, causing wounds where disease like damping off can start and enter plants), stunting plants, and causing early flowering in tomatoes and peppers.  Insects are awful, including grasshopper, thrips, diamondback moth, yellow-margined beetle, and false cinch bugs.  Rains and irrigation to keep down sand blowing are causing leaching of nitrogen. In combination with decreased plant growth due to wind, we are adding extra nitrogen to get the plant size needed to get yields.  Hopefully, we can keep the processing tomatoes and peppers in the growth stage a little longer before the fruiting stage really kicks-in and further reduces plant growth.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “While some have been hesitant, many Upstate Farmers Markets opened for the season this past weekend. Utilizing revised set-ups, handwashing stations, and promoting social distancing people still came out to support growers. Strawberries in Pickens and Anderson Counties are producing well and growers are selling out quickly. Weather conditions have been great for growing the last few weeks, and many of our market growers will be starting to move into the production stage over the next few weeks.”