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.

 

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 – 2/10/20

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had warm weather the first part of last week.  Heavy rain came through Wednesday evening and again Thursday afternoon. Strawberries are continuing to push out lots of new blooms a little earlier than we would like and lots of folks are wanting to start saving them.  According to the forecast, there may be a killing freeze coming Friday.  It may be best to allow this freeze to take out any blooms that are there now and start protecting any new blooms that come after.  This would have us picking towards the end of March rather than the beginning.  Just remember to remove any dead flowers once you decide to start saving blooms.  We’re already seeing grey mold develop on dead blooms.

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Grey mold developing on a dead bloom. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Storms brought heavy rainfall through some areas of the Ridge last week which led to some flash flooding. Ponding of water is occurring in some peach orchards. Warm temperatures are pushing bud swell/break on early blooming varieties. Copper and oil dormant sprays are going out as well as delayed dormant applications of chlorpyrifos for scale suppression. Pruning and planting continue.

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Standing water in a peach orchard following last week’s heavy rain.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

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Peach buds are beginning to break on early blooming varieties. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Spider mite populations have decreased in numbers in strawberry production. Plants are still a little behind but still look okay. Remember to remove dead buds before spring. Most farmers have delayed land preparations due to weather. Collards were stunted due to low temperatures in some areas, especially young plants. Sclerotinia is still progressing in many areas and continues to spread. Please use protective fungicides if possible.”

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Wet conditions have delayed field prep. Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With the first full week of February bringing a high of 76 degrees F, a low of 27 degree F, tornado warnings, 4-6 inches of snow, 6 inches of rain, and a currently running flood watch with 2+ more inches of rain predicted, agriculture in much of the upstate has come to a screeching halt. Stay tuned to see how we float out the other side of this week!”

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Bryson’s Apple Orchard, Feb. 8th, 2020.  Courtesy of Gail Bryson.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “As my daddy used to tell me when he was about to whoop my tail – it’s too wet to plow.  We need to be planting greens but just can’t.  Looks like strawberries are going to super early this spring.  Spider mites are loving this warmth.”