Field Update – 4/20/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had severe storms roll through the Lowcountry at the beginning of last week.  Fortunately, we had very little damage to most of our crops.  We had some damage to older squash and zucchini and some damage to untied tomatoes.  For the most part, we escaped with little to moderate damage and should still make some good crops. Strawberries are coming in strong but it seems like this could be our last push of the season.  I do not see many blooms coming on and our overall plant size and number of crowns per plant seem low for this time of year.

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Ants and mole crickets have become more of a problem for produce growers in the past few years. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Burn on leaf margins caused by overapplication of boron. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We didn’t see any damage from the storms last Monday morning other than some water damaged strawberries. We’re sure to have more damaged berries once the rain clears out today. Be sure to carry damaged and rotting berries out of the fields so they won’t become a source of inoculum for Botrytis and anthracnose. Growers selling locally are still seeing good demand for their produce. To try to keep everyone safe, some strawberry growers are opting to sell only pre-pick berries. Brassicas are growing rapidly and looking great, though diamondback moth caterpillar pressure has become pretty high. Be sure to rotate modes of action when selecting DBM insecticides. Everything else (tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, squash) is growing well also.

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Water damaged strawberries. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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The first plantings of tomatoes are growing really well.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach trees continue to be thinned. This week we will likely begin to see scale crawlers present and should take action with a spray of Esteem. Bacterial canker has been noted across the state this year as seasonal conditions warranted a good year for inoculation.  Peach fruit is progressing nicely with some of the earliest varieties potentially beginning to ripe in just a few weeks.”

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Peaches that have been thinned with fruit distanced about 6 inches apart. Photo from Sarah Scott.

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Early variety peach progressing nicely in Edgefield County. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Planting of vegetables is wide open, right now. Cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, melons), beans and peas, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are all going in. Greens are looking good. Potatoes are coming along nicely, despite having to be planted late. Starting to see Colorado potato beetles in potatoes. Frequent scouting and timely insecticide applications are key to their control. Strawberries yields are really starting to pick up. A lot of nice-sized, sweet strawberries are available now. Blueberry fields are starting to get that tinge of blue on the earliest berries. We should start seeing some fruit being harvested in the next few days.

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Colorado potato beetle on a potato leaf. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “It was getting dry, thank goodness for the rain.  Most of our butterbeans and peas are grown with irrigation.  Most of our first crop cucumbers are starting to hit the rapid growth stage – get out and sharpen the plows.  Greens are loving this weather.  Watch out for yellow margined beetle- you will most likely see the brown ugly small grubs – they like sandier soils.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With beautiful skies over the last week since the outbreak of tornadoes across the state, growers have been able to get back into the fields. Last night and this morning’s heavy rains caused some minor runoff and ponding, but nothing we haven’t seen before. A few scattered nights/mornings with cold temperatures do not seem to have caused any significant damage to the peach or apple crops. The biggest news in the Upstate has been cleanup… cleanup of the Seneca area and further up near Pumpkintown. So far, there has been a very limited reported effect from the tornados on the fruit & vegetable growers. We’ve had many livestock producers with downed fences and shelter roof damages, but nothing too severe. Residential areas were the hardest hit, and the community has really shown out in its response.

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EF3 tornado damage from Seneca, SC. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “This is damage seen on multiple farms is believed to have been caused by self-inflicted miticide application with a surfactant, or possibly damaged from the sun. What allowed us to learn this is that almost all of the damage is located on the top side of the fruit but when flipped over the portion of the shaded berries remained undamaged.  Please be careful with all fungicide/pesticide applications and make sure you are following all of them.  If the label doesn’t call for a surfactant to be used…..please do NOT use one.

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Damage possibly from using a surfactant with a miticide or from the sun. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 4/13/20

All of SC is now under a “Home or Work” order from Governor McMaster. Farming is an essential industry, so Commissioner Weathers has issued this Notice of Essential Food and Agricultural Employee form that farms may fill out for each employee certifying them as an essential employee. Employees should keep this form with them while commuting to and from work.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had a great week of weather last week in the Lowcountry.  I am extremely concerned and curious to see what things look like after the powerful line of storms we had Monday morning.  I feel like we will see lots of damage to taller crops and in areas where there were no windbreaks.  If plants suffered in the storm and have open wounds from sand, wind, or tying twine, then expect to see more disease.  It would be a great time to get out some fungicides and bactericides to prevent spreading of diseases.  As of Friday, our crops looked great.  I have been seeing LOTS of damage by our biggest pest in the Lowcounty…DEER.  Fencing is cheap compared to the amount of money you are losing to browsing damage. Check out this publication on fencing.

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A deer browsed tomato (left) and un-browsed tomato (right).  Photo from Zack Snipes.

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When browsing occurs, other competitors such as nutgrass take hold further impacting yield. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was nice last week and crops really responded. Brassicas and sweet corn are both growing really fast. Strawberry production really picked up last week too. Luckily, sales at produce stands have been really good lately. We had a really strong storm come through early Monday morning and we expect to see some water damaged strawberries as a result and probably some diseases like black rot on brassicas.  Strawberry growers, be sure to sanitize the plants well so damaged fruit won’t become inoculum for Botrytis and anthracnose.

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Workers at James Sease Farms in Gilbert grading strawberries fresh from the field. Strawberry season is in full swing. Support your local farmers!  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “The peach crop is coming along nicely. Some high chill hour requiring varieties are developing at an uneven rate but only time will tell if there will be a good crop on those. Strawberry production is picking up. A couple of cooler nighttime temperatures may have slowed progression a bit but harvests are still on the rise. Field crops like spinach, kale, and broccoli are performing well. Some cucurbits being planted as well as tomatoes as labor needs are filled.

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Blossom blight caused by the fungi, Monilinia fructicola. Extended bloom and lots of rain during winter months made ideal conditions for infection. Refer to the 2020 Peach Management Guide for information on treating and preventing spread of brown rot. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Awful infestation of early season diamondback caterpillar on brassicas like collards/cabbage most likely due to the overwintering on brassicas like radish in cover crops.  When these crops are terminated for summer cropping these insects and other insects like yellow-margined beetle invade vegetable production fields.  Also, cover crops containing brassicas should not be used in vegetable production fields because they increase diseases like bacterial soft rot and sclerotinia, which are tremendous problems in all types of vegetable crops.

I hope all strawberry growers got their ripe fruit out of their fields before this storm – if not a lot of fruit will most likely be discarded.  Some rain was needed hope not too much falls – in S.C. when it rains it pours.  Most summer crops are planted and we did get some wind damage and sandblasting causing stunting but no frost damage in the Pee Dee.  The first plantings of processing tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are in and after this rain more will be quickly following.  Spring brassicas are loving this rain.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “It was confirmed that a tornado touched down in Seneca, SC early this morning around 3:30am. Reports of damage to agricultural operations have been limited, but there is certainly significant damage to business and residential structures. Apple and peach crops are looking good right now. We have many farmers market operations who will be replanting/reseeding after last night’s heavy rains.”

Andy Rollins reports, “We have been trapping high numbers of Oriental Fruit Moths in pheromone traps in peach orchards in upstate SC weekly.  Numbers have been much higher in our late season varieties.  We are assisting growers with correct timing of spray applications directed at egg hatch.  We are also encouraging growers to rotate insecticide classes to prevent failure of the pyrethroids if this hasn’t already occurred.  Dr. Brett Blaauw UGA/Clemson peach entomologist has been directing the effort aimed at reducing damage from this pest.”

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Oriental fruit moths captured on a sticky trap. Photo from Andy Rollins.

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 – 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.”