Field Update – 4/6/20

At this point, only a few cities (Columbia, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach) have issued shelter-in-place orders.  The Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers, has drafted a Notice of Essential Food and Agriculture Employee form that farms in these areas may fill out for each employee certifying them as an essential employee.  They should keep this letter with them while commuting to and from work.  Commissioner Weathers also sent this letter to the law enforcement community in regards to his notice.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “A beautiful week of weather for working outside this past week.  Our spring crops look great as well as our early summer planted crops. Tomatoes look great and have really jumped.  I found some cranberry fruit worm in highbush blueberries last week that all blueberry growers will want to keep an eye out for.  Local produce sales are in great demand right now with lots of growers finding new ways to sell to new clientele.  Strawberry season is in full swing with U-pick operations having trouble keeping up with demand.  I’ve seen lots of makeshift handwashing stations at U-Pick farms, which I applaud growers for.  Had a few calls about thrips in strawberry this past week so keep an eye out for damage.  In every strawberry field that I was in this past week, I saw hot spots of spider mites.  Scout your fields, the entire field, daily and treat the hot spots before you have to treat the entire field.  It will save you money on both treatment and potential yield loss.”

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Handwashing stations at U-Picks are protecting both growers and customers. This one was set up for around $70. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Thrips damage on strawberry will leave the berry with a bronzed look and the outside of the berry will be hard resembling a plastic coating. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little cooler this past week than the week before.  We also had a little rain early in the week and dew several mornings. These were perfect conditions for Botrytis and anthracnose to develop in strawberries and both showed up in a number of places.  We have a lot of blooms and green fruit out there right now, so make sure to stay on a good spray schedule and rotate MOA’s.  Spider mite pressure remains high in some places. Strawberry yields have not picked up yet and growers are easily selling everything they pick. Brassicas are growing fast in this beautiful weather. Caterpillar pressure is still up requiring widespread sprays. Keep scouting.”

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Botrytis developing on a strawberry.  Weather conditions have been perfect for Botrytis and anthracnose recently. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Strawberry yields have not picked up yet, but we have lots of blooms and green fruit coming on. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach trees continue to progress,  thinning of fruit is happening for some varieties now. Strawberry crop is beginning to pick up. Cooler night temperatures last week slowed ripening some. Vegetable crops continue to be planted including eggplant and peppers.”

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Broccoli plants growing well in Saluda County. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Full speed planting processing vegetables.  Pickles, green beans, Butterbeans, peas, peppers, tomatoes are being planted.  Having trouble getting all the strawberries picked.  2nd Butterbean planting going in. 3rd sweet corn planting going in.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With beautiful skies and warm weather this past week, our upstate market gardeners are beginning to put things in the ground. While a little early for some, others are hedging their bets with multiple plantings over the next few weeks. Apples and peaches are continuing to progress with most apple varieties now in or near full bloom.”

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Tomato transplants for sale at a local garden supplier. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

 

Field Update – 3/30/20

At this time, due to COVID-19, all in-person Clemson Extension meetings have been postponed through June 1st.  Keep an eye on the COVID-19 Resources page for updates.

The SCDA’s list of farms offering deliveries and pick-ups has grown significantly in the last week. View or contact LauraKate McAllister to be added to the list here.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “The weather has significantly warmed which has really helped our crops.  Strawberries are in peak production and growers are seeing record sales.  Other direct market growers are seeing higher sales numbers right now as well. Tomatoes are looking good with no issues.  Highbush blueberries are looking like they will have a decent crop and should be coming off soon.  I have seen some freeze damage on the earliest varieties of highbush that endured very cold temperatures.  Later season rabbiteye blueberries are in full bloom right now.”

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San Joaquin highbush blueberry with a good fruit load that should be ready soon. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The first half of last week was very wet, the second half was very warm.  Strawberries are growing well, but harvest volumes haven’t picked up yet.  Growers are easily selling everything they pick.  Keep scouting for spider mites.  After a very easy fall and winter, caterpillar populations are starting to climb in brassica crops.  Be sure to get out and scout for those.  Sweet corn is also up and growing.

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Diamondback moth caterpillar on the underside of a broccoli leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Sweet corn up and growing.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Fruit is developing nicely on peach trees with little to no signs of cold damage at this time. Vegetable transplants are going in now including squash, bell peppers, and eggplant. Strawberry harvest has begun. Spider mite populations are slightly high right now.

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Peaches are developing well. Photo from Sarah Scott.

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Newly transplanted squash plant. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean report, “It has just about turned into summer with temperatures (over the last few days) in the mid and upper 80s… and the crops have really responded. Muscadines have started leafing out across the region, with some early flower development occurring. Later blueberry varieties (like Tifblue, Onslow and Powderblue) are blooming heavily, while earlier varieties of blueberries have completed flowering, or getting near to completion. Strawberries are blooming and fruiting heavily, and there are some light volumes being picked now. Angular leaf spot is showing up on some strawberries. This is due to the wet conditions that we have been experienced, this year. Spider mites are still being found in strawberries. So, regular scouting is necessary.”

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A syrphid fly visiting a strawberry flower. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Growers are preparing land, bedding, and planting before this rain gets here. Most early sweetcorn is planted.  Sweet potato beds are sprouting – along with weeds- kill the weeds now. Fresh market tomatoes and pepper are being planted. I have seen a lot of ugly strawberries from cinch bugs, stinkbugs, thrips, boron deficiency, etc. Butterbeans are being rapidly planted. Processing tomato and pepper land has been treated with Vapam- always follow all label directions. Cabbage is beginning to cup. There is more demand than strawberry supply right now.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Growers are trying to stay ahead of the game with some social distance mowing. No freeze damage spotted so far on apples or peaches in the Long Creek/Mt. Rest area. Bloom is very erratic and varies from tree to tree. Picture is of Mike Ables, with Ables Orchard bush hogging and a granny smith in full bloom.”

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Mike Ables of Albes Orchard bush hogging weeds.  Photo from Kerrie Roach.

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A syrphid fly visiting a Granny Smith bloom. Photo from Kerrie Roach

Field Update – 3/23/20

COVID-19 continues to be a major concern for produce farmers and consumers. We’ve put together a new tab labeled “COVID-19 Resources” which includes a number of resources from Clemson, SC Dept. of Agriculture, SC Farm Bureau, and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. Additions are being made regularly, so check back often.

Also, AgriSafe is offering a webinar this afternoon titled “What Ag Producers Need to Know About COVID-19.” If you are interested in participating, click here.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Amid the COVID-19 outbreak the weather has really helped out our crops here in the Lowcounty.  Strawberries are pushing out with great flavor and size after a break the past few weeks.  Tomatoes are still being planted and look great with the warm sunny weather we have had.  Winter and early spring crops are being harvested and look beautiful right now.  I have seen some brassica fields beginning to bolt with the longer days and warming weather so get them out of the fields soon. If you are having trouble selling produce consider contacting LauraKate McAllister to be put on the SC Dept of Ag “Find Local Farm Fresh Food During COVID-19” list.

Clemson Extension will be posting on social media and the Home Garden Information Center about this webpage so your farm will want to be highlighted there.  Clemson Extension is here to help everyone through this time so feel free to reach out to us.”

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Strawberries are coming along in the Lowcountry. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Tomatoes are being planted and look good so far. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was beautiful last week and crops in the field are developing fast.  Some of our strawberry growers have begun picking. Once yields pick up a little, most are still planning to have U-pick, with some precautions. Early reports are that sales have been good despite concerns that coronavirus would hurt demand.  Spider mites have still been showing up, so keep scouting regularly.  The drier weather last week slowed disease down, but moisture is returning to the forecast this week, so don’t let up on spray programs.”

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Strawberry picking has begun in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Started planting Butterbeans and snap beans to beat the heat.  Also planting Squash and other cucurbits from seed.  There aren’t enough strawberries right now to meet the demand as everyone wants the first strawberries.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Upstate peaches are bursting with blooms and many apple varieties are starting to show silver and even green tip stages. We are excited about the season and are continuing to monitor temperatures. More rain again today.”

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Peach blooms at Bryson’s Orchard in Long Creek, SC.  Photo from Reba Butts.

Field Update – 3/16/20

COVID-19 has become a concern for fruit and vegetable growers, especially those expecting to open U-Pick operations in the coming weeks.  It is unknown at this time how the virus, quarantines, and closures will affect produce sales.  Updates will be shared on the SC Grower each week in regards to this issue.  In the meantime, please take the necessary precautions to protect yourselves, your workers, and customers.

Coastal

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I received a couple samples of the aquatic weed Eurasian Watermilfoil this month from irrigation and other water-filled ditches. This invasive weed has been moving South and can block up waterways. Sonar herbicide is effective against this weed. Draining the ditches and allowing the weed to dry out can reduce the viability of this weed as well.”

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Eurasian watermilfoil foliage. Photo from Dr. Matt Cutulle.

Zack Snipes reports, “Things are warming up and drying out in the Lowcountry.  Everyone is very busy preparing land and planting.  Tomato planting will continue this week.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was mostly warm and sunny and there’s been lots of pine pollen in the air.  Believe it or not, we have some places that are dry and are being irrigated.  We have some ripe strawberries around that are ready to pick and I have been pleasantly surprised with the taste so far.  It won’t be long before U-Pick operations are open.  The dry weather has allowed spider mite populations to pick up and lots of folks have put out miticides.  Be sure to scout regularly and stay on top of sanitation.”

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Sandy soils in the midlands have dried out and these young collards have started to wilt.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Strawberry harvest will begin soon in the midlands.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Most peach trees in the middle part of the state are well into bloom if not beyond. A break in the rain has given growers a chance to get into the field and spray for blossom blight as well as begin herbicide sprays in some orchards. There appears to be very little damage from previous cold nighttime temperatures but we will still have to wait to get the full scope until fruit development begins. Vegetable plastic has gone in later than usual due to muddy, wet field conditions. Spring brassicas are being planted and potatoes are still going in as well.

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Peach trees near full bloom.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Hurrying to get greens planted before the rain.  Most sweet potato beds are in.  Picking strawberries, but botrytis is bad because of all the rain and cloudy weather.  Some are looking to start planting butterbeans soon to get ahead of the summer heat.  Soil temperatures are good but, we never know about late frosts.  It looks like we have some thinning of flowers/fruit on peaches with the cold temperatures, however, right now we still have a good crop.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “We are starting to see some beautiful peach blooms here in the Upstate. The ‘Belle of Georgia’ blooms are at about 80% in Long Creek as of Thursday. Lots of honeybees were out doing their work.”

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Honeybee foraging peach blooms. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

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.”