Weekly Field Update – 5/3/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Botrytis (gray mold) is evident in places following rainfall. Sanitation and removal of the infected berries are critical to reducing inoculum loading. Fungicide applications will also be required to prevent spore germination and further spread of the disease. Where spider mite treatments have been applied, they have effectively reduced the populations but will still require scouting and monitoring.  Yields achieved are very good. Cucurbit crops continue to develop well with a low incidence of chill injury from the cooler temperatures observed on April 21/22. Crops are running well, with some flowering being observed. Cucumber beetles are being monitored, and a few aphids are present in places. Cucumber beetles observed are currently below the threshold of 5 beetles per plant. Squash bugs are also being found on some sites. Careful monitoring will be required because numbers can increase rapidly. Crops are free from disease; however, protectant fungicides are still a critical input. Blueberries are swelling well and beginning to blush.  Blackberries are flowering with excellent fruit set and bud formation. Spider mites have been evident in these crops too; however miticide applications are proving very effective.

Squash bugs are showing up in the coastal region. Photo from Rob Last.

Zack Snipes reports, “We had another nice week of weather in the Lowcountry. We are starting to dry out again so some rain would be nice. All of our crops look really great right now with no huge issues. The biggest issue I see right now is spider mites on all crops which makes sense with the warm dry weather. I’ve gotten a few calls about some strawberry plants putting out runners. We need to get in the fields and pinch those off while we are cleaning up dead berries, blossoms, and tissue. I have been in several vegetable fields lately and seen some inconsistencies in plant growth and vigor. Upon further inspection of some tomato and squash crops, I found galling on the roots which is an indicator of root-knot nematodes. If this is the case on your farm, pull up a few plants and look at the roots. We need to keep good notes on where these areas or fields are and practice good crop rotation for next season or use resistant cultivars. There are some cover crops that help with suppression as well. If you want to pull a soil sample to check for nematodes, give your local agent a call. We are doing a statewide survey looking for the guava root-knot nematode and can assist with sampling. In case you missed the “Update from the Tomato Fields” talk last Wednesday, here is the link.

Smaller squash plants in a large field made me question root-knot nematode damage.  Upon inspection of the roots, I found galling which is an indicator of nematode pressure. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather last week was mild and it is very dry again. The inch of rain we got last weekend didn’t go very far. Strawberries are still yielding well, though in some fields, we’re starting to see berry size decrease, like we frequently see towards the end of picking. Folks had to remove water-damaged berries from their fields following the rain this past weekend. I guess the silver lining in this dry spell is we haven’t had many water-damaged berries yet this year. We’re still seeing some mites here and there, but disease pressure remains low. I found a berry last week with an anthracnose fruit rot lesion for the first time this season. So even though disease pressure is low, we still need to keep up with fungicide programs. There is some rain in the forecast for this week, so now would be a good time to throw in one of the site specific fungicides.”

Fungicides with the best efficacy on gray mold (left) and anthracnose (right) Photo from MyIPM app.
Cabbage with some cold damage from the cold a little over a week ago. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Along the Ridge, crews are still finishing up thinning in peach orchards to ensure good sizing on fruit. We are well into our summer cover spray programs for the season. During pit hardening it is critical to do preventative treatment for bacterial spot. Growers should be watching for plum circulio activity as well as scale crawlers in the next week as well. Sime powdery mildew has been found on foliage. Refer the the 2021 SE Peach, Nectarine, and Plum Management Guide for specific treatment recommendations. Strawberries are performing well. Some spider mite activity as well as some botrytis in the fields, which could worsen with several days of wet weather in the forecast. Transplanting of summer crops continues, including tomatoes and peppers. Curcurbits are becoming established and harvest will begin soon. 

Peach tree after thinning. Notice all of the green fruit on the ground surrounding it. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, and sweet potato slips are really growing since it has warmed up. Getting ready to sidedress and plow cucumbers. Fresh market cabbage will be ready to harvest soon. Processing collards are almost ready to harvest- some downy mildew has been seen. Asparagus suffered from excessive rains last year. Saw some sunscald and chemical burn on strawberries, so watch what products you are applying foliar, especially fertilizers. With the small amount of rain we had last week many acres of peas have been planted; however, it is awfully dry again.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/26/21

Join us this Wednesday (3/24/21) at 12:30 pm for an update from the tomato fields with Zack Snipes. It will be a relatively short meeting, lasting 30-45 minutes, so tune in while you eat your lunch. Click here to register.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops in the area continue to develop well, and I expect this to continue after some welcome rainfall over the weekend.  Following the rain over the weekend and returning to warm temperatures, keep scouting for diseases in crops and ensure fungicide applications are made promptly. Spider mites show activity in a range of crops from strawberries to peppers, tomatoes, and blackberries. Always remember to use a specific miticide for spider mite control to avoid flaring populations. Cucumber beetles are beginning to be found in sticky traps. Currently, no damage is being seen to crops. Treatment options include neonicotinoid insecticides applied as a foliar spray or through the drip system.  When treatments are made, it is possible feeding damage will be seen as the pests need to ingest the pesticide.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We finally got some rain last week that I think will benefit all of our crops. Spider mites were the talk of the community last week. I saw high populations on strawberries as well as blackberries. On farms with mixed produce, you will want to scout all crops, even if they are at a stage where they normally wouldn’t have mites. I found mites on tomatoes last week because they were adjacent to a strawberry crop. We need to get on top of this pest before its too late. There are plenty of IPM techniques and strategies for this pest. Also, if you have sprayed a product in strawberry and are considering treating other crops nearby, you may want to rotate products/chemistries from what you sprayed on strawberry. Chances are those are the same genetically similar spider mites so if you had any resistance in strawberry, or another crop, then you may see it on tomato or watermelon.”

Taking good photos of spider mites is tough but on this leaf you can see several two-spotted spider mites. Don’t wait until you see symptomatic damage to manage this pest.    

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a cold event in the midlands that seems like it got around 5 degrees colder in most areas than what the forecast called for. It got to 35 at my house Wednesday night/Thursday morning. South of Columbia and Lake Murray, I only heard a couple reports of light frost, but north of Columbia, I heard reports of the temperatures reaching 31. We’re certainly going to see some damage in those areas to spring crops that weren’t covered. On another note, strawberries are yielding really well right now. Growers are reporting that yields are at times outpacing sales. We finally got some rain this weekend (just under an inch at my house), so we’re going to see some water-damaged berries and the moisture will give grey mold an opportunity to increase. The rain was good news for spider mite management, as their populations had been thriving in the dry conditions. Diamondback moth populations are increasing in brassicas, so keep up with scouting.”

Strawberries have been yielding well and berry size has been quite large on some cultivars. Photo from Justin Ballew
We haven’t seen much grey mold lately, but the rain we had over the weekend may allow it to make a comeback. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Last week’s brief kiss of frost doesn’t appear to have caused any significant problems on the crops. But, it is starting to get a bit dry. Sweet corn and pea emergence has been looking good, with most locations having an excellent stand. Cucurbit crops are starting to emerge, as well. Transplant tomatoes are looking very good. Everyone is taking advantage of this beautiful weather to plant vegetable crops and blueberries… just don’t forget to irrigate. Strawberry harvest is peaking right now and the fruit looks really good. Disease pressure is pretty low, but spider mite activity is high in many locations. In blueberries, much of the damaged fruit (from the Easter freeze) is beginning to shed off of the plant. Hopefully, this will continue… so lingering damaged fruit will not slow down harvest (starting in a few weeks). Muscadines are starting to show some early flower bud development.”

Early flower bud development in Carlos muscadine. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Crimson clover cover crop in a muscadine vineyard is a beautiful sight to see. It serves as a great habitat for beneficial insects. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Blueberries planted on plastic mulch covered beds. The plastic reduces the development of weeds, thereby reducing competition for the newly planted blueberry plants. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Peppers, cucumber, and tomatoes are just sitting and not growing. Extra fertilizer will do little for growth in these cool conditions. Cabbage needs to be sprayed for thrips, sclerotinia, and caterpillars. Cabbage, collards, and greens are loving the cool weather and hauling butt, so side-dress to keep growing. Strawberries are loving these cool conditions and are really producing. We are having an overabundance of local strawberries making them hard to sell – many are being discarded. Just a small amount of wind damage. Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumber plants were not big enough to act like a sail and be blown (twisted-off) in the wind. Got just enough rain to start planting dryland peas. I know I will regret saying this – “but I hope it warms up soon.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Every day brings us a little closer to May in the Upstate, and with that brings a little less chance of a frost or freeze event. Last week Thursday brought on lows of 30-32 degrees F in many places causing damage to warm season crops as well as landscapes across the upstate. Strawberry growers have slowed since the cool weather, but production will start to pick back up with warmer days and nights this week.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/19/21

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some nice weather last week. The tomato crop is looking great as are most of our cucurbits and greens. I am seeing increased caterpillar pressure across the area. We had several calls from across the state early last week about sunburned strawberries. We went and visited the farms and tried to rule out disease, frost damage, etc. The only thing we came up with is some sort of sunburn damage. This was most prevalent on the southern facing sides of beds where there was poor canopy coverage. I also saw damaged tissue on tender lettuce, in my citrus plots at the CREC, and on some new shoots of ornamentals at my house. I checked the solar radiation at the weather station at the CREC and the units (W/m2) were 300-500 units higher on Monday when compared to the prior 4 days. Perhaps we had intense UV levels and higher temperatures that led to this damage? Here is a really great article on the types of sunburn on plants and fruit.”

Discolored, damaged, and unmarketable strawberries. Photo from Zack Snipes.
The berries were clean on the inside and had no bad odors or flavor. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Solar radiation measurement from a weather station at Coastal REC in Charleston. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little cooler last week and we are really dry here in the midlands. I’ve had less than 4 tenths of an inch of rain so far in the month of April. This has been really helpful for disease management in strawberries. I’ve seen very little grey mold compared to years past. Spider mites are enjoying the dry weather, though. I’m starting to see populations really grow, so keep a close eye on that. Caterpillar populations appear to be building, though overall they are still low on spring planted brassicas. Tomatoes and cucurbits have been going in the ground and doing well so far. Sweet corn is growing well and it’s hard to even tell some of the leaves were burned by the cold a couple weeks ago.”

Two-spotted spider mites on the underside of a strawberry leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.
If a treatment is needed for mites, use a dedicated miticide. Using broad spectrum insecticides kills beneficials, like this lacewing, which can lead to explosive mite population growth. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach producers are continuing thinning fruit since we feel that we have a good assessment of what was damaged by cold. Growers who have varieties with significant losses may want to take a look at a reduced spray schedule to ensure adequate disease and pesticide coverage for the season. It’s important to maintain orchards even if they are not going to produce a crop to maintain the health of the trees.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cool night temperatures making strawberries, cabbage, collards, and greens happy. We are actually having a true spring this year. Labor is our #1 problem for small growers. Some crops have been destroyed by mistakenly applying the wrong chemicals, especially atrazine since corn is being planted now. Hundreds of acres of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are already planted and holding their own.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Peach and apple damage continues to be assessed. Weather forecasts in northern Oconee County for Tuesday night/Wednesday morning predict more cold weather, but growers are hoping for temperatures to stay above freezing as forecasted. Strawberries in the Upstate are starting to ripen. Last week most fields were being spot picked, but with warm sunny days many of the u-pick operations are beginning to open this week. The cold temperatures predicted Tuesday night/Wednesday morning could become an issue for berry growers depending on location, elevation, and air movement.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/12/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I am starting to see some goosegrass popping due to soil temperatures being 65 F. Goosegrass will typically be problematic in more compacted areas of the field. In most broadleaf crops a Select or Poast post-emergent application will control emerged goosegrass. PRE herbicide options include Curbit and Dual Magnum (If crop is labeled). In rice it is important to remember that Quinclorac products will kill crabgrass but not goosegrass. The best rice product that will control goosegrass effectively in SC is Clincher.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops are generally doing well in the area, with strawberries coming off with good volumes. On the whole, row covers or icing protected 97% of the susceptible flowers leading to 1-2% losses of flowers. The damaged flowers can increase grey mold pressure in the crops so, maintaining both sanitation and fungicide applications to strawberries will be crucial. As berries ripen, sanitation also becomes essential for reducing pest pressure from sap beetles. In some crops, where row covers were utilized, we see spider mite populations increasing and a few active thrips feeding on both flowers and berries. Other fruit crops in the area, such as blackberries and blueberries, look very good with low levels of damage from the freeze event last weekend. Peaches in the area are being thinned, with scouting being maintained for scale and plum curculio. Early planted watermelons did suffer from the frost in places, leading to 10-15% plant loss and hence the need to replant in a few areas. Other crops are moving slowly away from the injuries. Luckily a lot of crops were not beginning to vine and survived the worst of the damage. These plants are stressed, so care will be needed with any applications as well as scouting for pest and disease issues. Conversely, Cantaloupes in the area were direct seeded and have survived unscathed.”

Zack Snipes reports, “I was out and about last week as things are moving rather quickly in the fields. Spider mites are alive and active in every strawberry patch that I was in last week. You will see the translucent mite with 2 distinct spots as well as a reddish colored mite. The reddish colored mite is actually a two-spotted spider mite. We see this red form early in the season. Get out and scout as the weather is perfect for them. I am also seeing strawberry plants wilting down and dying. If you cut the crown you will see a brown/red rot in the center of the crown. Send these plants off for diagnosis. Most of what I have seen has been Phytophthora. We lost some cucurbit crops to the frost last weekend but some areas had no damage at all or slight damage. For some positive news, we are cutting some beautiful broccoli right now.”

Lower lying areas of fields or areas where the drip tape was nicked is where I am seeing some root rot issues. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Cutting the crown of wilting strawberry plants can help detect the pathogen responsible.  Sending off to the lab is the only way to get a 100% diagnosis of the problem. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Strawberry picking started on a wider scale this past week. This conveniently coincided with spring break for a lot of the public schools in our area, so U-pick operations have been busy. The weather was very mild last week, so everything is looking great. Spider mite and grey mold activity seems to be very low. There are a few thrips in certain places, so that’s something we need to keep an eye on. Brassicas are growing well. Caterpillar populations are still pretty low in most spring planted crops. There was a little injury to sweet corn from the recent frosts, but we expect the plants to grow out of it. Sweet corn’s growing point is underground until the 6 leaf stage. Since pretty much all the sweet corn was at the 3 leaf stage or younger, the growing points were protected and the damage is just superficial.”

Strawberry season has finally arrived in the Midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still assessing peach crop damage from freeze events happening between 4/1 and 4/3. It looks like anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of fruitlets were damaged by the cold event but with no additional damage we should still be on track for a good crop this year.  Strawberries were delayed a bit from the cold but are recovering nicely. Planting continues for crops like kale and other spring greens.”

Peach fruitlets at shuck off. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberries are really starting to come off. The quality is very good, and the plants are in good health. Disease is relatively low and spider mite activity is moderate. Damage was minimal from the freeze before Easter. We did see some damage on blueberries, though. Blueberries without frost protection (in especially cold locations) did see some significant injury to both early southern highbush and early rabbiteye cultivars. Injury of 80% was observed in Star and O’Neal (southern highbush) and Premier (rabbiteye). Blueberries with frost protection fared much better. This shows the importance of having well-designed frost protection if you are going to grow early-blooming cultivars. Muscadines, being at budbreak, did not show any significant injury. Farmers are taking advantage of this absolutely beautiful weather to plant vegetables. Sweet corn, peas, butterbeans, cucumbers, squash, melons, tomatoes, etc. are going in the ground as fast as they can. Blueberries are being planted now too.

Black and brown seed and tissue within the berry shows that the fruit was injured from the freeze and will not develop. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Damage to early fruitlets on rabbiteye blueberry. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Most strawberries are doing well and really starting to produce a lot of fruit. Cabbage is starting to head and is growing well. Brassica growers are applying products for diamondback moth and Sclerotinia. Some pickles are emerging and many acres will be planted this week. Some butterbeans are up and more are being planted. We will start to planting peas this week. Cool temperatures slowed sweetpotato slip growth a little, but most beds are covered with slips. Collards, turnips, and kale are growing fast. Hundreds of acres of tomatoes and peppers are already planted. A few acres of watermelons and cantaloupes are planted, but our main market is after the 4th of July.”

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.

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 – 11/16/20

Statewide

Pestalotia leaf spot and fruit rot are emerging diseases that were discovered last season on strawberries in the southeast. This could potentially have an impact on SC strawberry production, though the extent is yet to be determined. Please see these two publications (UF and UGA) and be on the lookout. If you suspect you’ve found Pestalotia leaf spot or fruit rot, please let your local Clemson Extension Agent know.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberries are planted and for the most part looking good. I am seeing some spider mite damage on plug plants. Get out and scout and treat as needed. In some areas we had 4 or more inches of rain last week which made fields sloppy, unable to be harvested, and tough to spray. Get out and look for worms in brassica this week.”

Yellow stippling appearance on strawberry leaflets from spider mite feeding damage. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was warm and wet, as expected. We had a good amount of rain Tuesday evening and Wednesday. I expect to see foliar diseases increase this week. Pecan harvest continues in the midlands. While yields have been very good, nut quality isn’t quite where we want it. This is most likely from the trees not getting enough water at certain times during the summer when the nuts were filling. The weather is forecast to get cool this week. It there should happen to be a frost, that would be the end of the fall squash and tomato crops.”

Heavy rains on Wednesday (11/11) saturated fields in the midlands. Luckily excess water doesn’t stick around long in sandy soil. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Pecan nut quality hasn’t been quite where we want it. The halves on the left filled out nicely while the ones on the right didn’t quite fill out. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “We have seen some flea beetles/larvae feeding on strawberry transplants and yellow-margined leaf beetle has been bad on brassicas. Some crops have been drowned by the rain. Harvest or row-cover warm season vegetables before the frost to avoid damage. Harvesting the last of the butterbeans and peas this week. A lot (500 or more acres) of sweet potatoes are still in the ground and harvest will begin again after the soil dries.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Still inspecting strawberry plantings across the upstate.  Look for uneven growth on either side of the bed and also in the row.   Placement of drip tape depth and distance from plants is very important as is proper planting.  Uneven up and down growth can be indication of root rot or other problems too, so look carefully.  Unusually wet weather from recent hurricanes has given us conditions very favorable for fungal Botrytis growth.  Dead tissue is very susceptible to being colonized first.  Use of Captan, a protectant fungicide would be advised as long as conditions remain favorable.”

Uneven growth possibly from drip tape not being centered under the plastic. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Dead tissue such as stems and leaves are the first to be colonized by Botrytis. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 11/2/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry planting is mostly complete in the area.  Plants received from nurseries have been very good this year and establishment is progressing well.  In fall vegetable crops Southern army worms continue to be present and numerous.  Whiteflies in fall vegetables are beginning to reduce.  Disease pressure remains relatively low.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberry planting continued last week.  Bare root plants look good going into the ground.  Stay on top of workers to plant them correctly.  I saw some patches with “J” roots or long roots that went to the bottom of the hole and back out.  Those plants will die or produce considerably less yield than properly planted plants. Also, I have seen and heard reports of spider mites on plug transplants.  Check your fields and get out miticide this week if you need it.  Fall growth is very important as well as knocking out the existing spider mite populations.  Remember that the threshold for spider mites is 4-5% of the leaves with a population.  And lastly, I have seen AWFUL disease on purchased transplants.  If you purchase transplants and they have disease on them, DO NOT plant them. The plants will never produce like they should and you are inoculating the rest of your crops and land with that disease.

Clean bareroot cutoff plants.  Notice how white or cream colored the crown is and how clean the roots are. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A freshly purchased and planted collard transplant with black rot.  This plant will never grow out of this, it will reduce yield, and increase inoculum in the soil for the next brassica crop.  Send these plants back and find a new transplant provider. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Young strawberries are growing well so far in the midlands. We’ve had good weather for getting the plants established. We are starting to see some spider mites already, so don’t forget that we need to be scouting regularly as soon as the plants are in the ground. If you plan to cover your strawberries for a couple weeks in the fall, getting rid of mites should be priority #1. Other crops are doing well also, though we are seeing high numbers of caterpillars and diseases like black rot and Alternaria on brassicas have really been ramping up.”

Discoloration on young plants from spider mite feeding damage. Once populations reach the threshold of 4% infestation, treatments need to be made in a timely manner to keep spider mites from hanging around throughout the winter and into the spring. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Alternaria leaf spots on a collard leaf. Be sure to rotate fungicide MOAs when treating. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “First time I have seen large numbers of yellow-margined beetle in Orangeburg County – we had to treat 1 out of 10 fields for them.  If possible do not use a pyrethroid on young greens it will encourage worm and aphid problems.  Still seeing a lot of boron and Magnesium deficiency in greens, mostly because farmers are not liming properly, using sul-pho-mag, or using premium fertilizers with minor elements.  Spray with boron and many applications of Epsom salts and the greens will eventually grow out of the problem.  Like always, swine cress and corn spurry are awful weeds in greens – to control I recommend using a stale-bed culture technique before planting.  We still have butterbeans, peas, and cucurbits in the ground – hope frost stays away until after Thanksgiving.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “High winds, heavy rains and now cold over night temperatures have laid down a gauntlet for growers in the Upstate over the last week. Many growers in Oconee County lost power from the remnants of hurricane Zeta for anywhere from 1-4 days. Apples are just about finished with mainly Yates and Arkansas Blacks left to pick. Apple growers concerned with fungicide resistance should contact Kerrie to pull Bitter Rot samples now to be sent to the shared lab at NC State.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Finishing up strawberry planting in the upstate.  I’ve been inspecting farms and assisting some growers with planting different types of plants they weren’t used to planting.  Unlike the pictured transplants some are a little smaller than normal but appear to be healthy at this point.   Colder weather is a slight concern as we need decent growing conditions to get them rooted in well.  Some may need to use row covers to keep strawberry plants growing during the first 30 days in the ground if temperatures stay low. Peach growers are putting down fall herbicides still and some are preparing to do delay blooming.  This involves waiting till at least 50% of the leaves are off of the trees before applying a liquid form of ethylene.  Other stipulations are also important regarding temperatures after application. If it is your first time trying this, speak with your county agent to get the correct method.

Healthy strawberry plug ready to be planted. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Strawberry plastic ready to be planted in the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 7/6/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It was a warm week with some sprinkled in showers along the coast. All crops are coming in right now with heavy watermelon volume. What’s left of the tomato crop is ripening fast. As far as pests go, I have seen a good amount of bacterial leaf spot in pepper, squash bugs and cucumber beetles in squash, and spider mites on beans, tomato, and melon.”

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Squash bugs and their bronze eggs on a zucchini. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Spider mite activity has increased with the warm weather and a missed spray or two.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got a little more rain last week and the temperatures were a little warmer than previous weeks. We’re still harvesting tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, eggplant, peaches, squash, zucchini, beans, etc. Since the environment has been warm and wet, we’re starting to see diseases pick up. Seeing lots of powdery mildew and anthracnose on cucurbits and bacterial spot on tomatoes. Stay on your fungicide programs and rotate modes of action as much as possible. I’ve also been getting some reports of heavy spider mite activity on tomatoes.”

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We are seeing lots of bacterial spot show up in tomatoes following the recent rain. Photo from Justin Ballew

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Spider mites generally feed on the lower side of tomato leaves and cause a stippling appearance. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We’ve had hot and, for the most part, somewhat dry conditions in the past week. Some areas received an inch of rain but it was very spotty. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, cucumbers, and melons are all being harvested now.  Plums, peaches, and nectarines are also still being picked. The peach crop is about 10 days ahead of schedule.”

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Peaches are looking good and coming in a little early. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are maturing nicely, even though some are exhibiting heat stress from the recent hot weather. Cucurbit Downy Mildew (on cucumbers) has been reported throughout the Pee Dee Region. Powdery Mildew is widespread on zucchini and yellow squash. Sweet corn is looking good, with good volumes being produced. Tomatoes, other than being stressed from the heat and the humidity, look pretty good and are bearing well. Sweetpotatoes are still being planted. Muscadines are beginning to size and look to be a very good crop. Blueberries are winding down, with only the latest varieties being harvested now.”

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Tomato plant showing some stress from the heat and humidity of summer. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Processing peppers and tomatoes are beginning to be harvested and they look good.  With all the early winds and excessive rain, it was difficult but as my daddy would say “we made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” Second and third crop pickles are yielding much better than the weather-beaten first crop. Processing peas will begin harvest this next week, so we badly need some dry weather but the forecast is not favorable.  Also, the amount of cowpea curculio is increasing rapidly and an intense/timely spray program is needed to prevent what most call “stings (maggots) in the peas.”  One grower got slack on his spray program and this week had to discard $6,000 worth of peas. Spray with a pyrethroid at or before the first flower, then every week until flowering is finished.  The first spray is the most important because if you wait too late, the curculios are already in the field.  Curculios are very hard to kill. When disturbed they ball-up inside their protective coat, and your spray is repelled. My program repels them and attempts to keep them out of the field. Also, rotation is very important to keep down the population of curculios surrounding your fields.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Upstate peaches are beginning to ripen! While exciting, we have seen some physiological issues with sizing and softening that we attribute back to a late-season cold spell. While the peaches originally appeared to pull through without damage, we are now seeing peaches that are not sizing and those that do size up, only ripen on the very outer portion. It is a waiting game to see how each variety ends the season. In the meantime, market vegetable production is in full swing and the apple crop is looking fabulous.”

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Some peaches in the upstate are not sizing up properly, probably due to the late cold spells in the spring. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

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.