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.”

Field Update – 12/9/19

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little cooler this week. Winter brassicas are still growing well, though probably a little slower now. Insect and disease pressure remains low. Strawberries are looking good overall. There are some spidermites in places and deer damage has been significant on some farms.

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Cabbage heads developing.  Photo from Justin Ballew

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Deer tracks on plastic in a strawberry field. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee Region

Tony Melton reports, “Strawberries are loving this weather.  Found a few spidermites.  Good many onions being planted in plastic mulch.”

Field Update – 11/4/19

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle cautions growers to be careful with late planted greens. “If getting out late with greens planting I would be careful with applying treflan pre-plant herbicides, as cold soil temperatures can facilitate injury.”

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “We are finishing up with summer crop harvests of cucumber, squash, and beans and harvesting fall crops like broccoli, collards, root crops, and lettuces. The rains and, at times, cooler weather have helped our fall crops. This past week I found some really cool beneficial insects in our Lowcountry brassica fields.  When scouting take note of any beneficials in your fields and know that they are providing lots of pest control for you.  Black rot in brassica has started showing up pretty regularly with the recent rains and lower temperatures.  Crop rotation, using clean seed and transplants, and sanitation (removing of diseased tissue) can help with control of this disease.  Many farms are seeding cover crops this time of year. Cover crops like clover can be grown to increase soil biomass, produce nitrogen, suppress weeds, and provide nectar and pollen for our beneficial insects.”

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Black rot showing up in brassicas after the recent thunderstorms. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Planting cover crops. Photo from Zack Snipes.

 

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got some rain from thunderstorms last week and the weather has turned significantly cooler since. We are seeing a few spidermites on strawberries. Keep an eye out for those. We don’t normally see a lot spidermites this early, so don’t let them catch you not paying attention. Caterpillar populations are still low on brassicas and disease has been relatively low also. A few false chinch bugs have been reported on mustard and turnip. We’re cropping kale and collards and still picking some last minute fall squash, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes.”

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Two-spotted spider mites on the underside of a strawberry leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

 

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Still picking some last minute eggplant. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Lower temperatures have brought a few light frosts to the area with scattered damage to tender vegetation. We continue to harvest broccoli,  bell peppers,  tomatoes,  eggplant,  sweet potatoes,  spinach and collards.”

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Broccoli head developing in the midlands. Photo from Sarah Scott.

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Bacterial soft rot on pepper. Photo from Sarah Scott.

 

Pee Dee Region

Tony Melton reports, “Bacterial leaf diseases of brassicas have been terrible this fall, maybe due to heat we had early  – processing greens had to be harvested early to meet grade.  I have found millions of  False Cinch Bugs on brassicas especially turnips – imidacloprid is a good control without killing beneficial insects.  Farmers (especially row crop farmers) need to be rotating from products containing chlorantraniliprole to other active ingredients – I have noticed a reduction of the length of control with these products.  Frost is here – protect.

Field Update – 10/28/19

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberries have been planted in the Lowcountry. Some rain throughout the week has really helped them take. Already seeing deer tracks in fields without fencing. I scouted a few fields and found enough juvenile spider mites to warrant a spray. We need to stay on top of the mites this season. Please scout your fields and take necessary measures to manage them.”

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Strawberry transplants are getting established. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Deer tracks show that deer are already browsing in strawberry fields. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a few showers come through the midlands last week. Strawberry planting has wrapped up and the young transplants are getting established well so far, as we’ve had pretty favorable weather lately. Fall brassicas are looking great and worm pressure is still a little below average. Fall crops of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, eggplant, squash and zucchini are still being harvested.”

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Broccoli head developing well. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee Region

Bruce McLean reports, “Brassica (cabbage, collards, turnips, broccoli, etc.) and strawberry planting has finished. The crops look very good. Okra and squash will finishing up soon. Downy mildew is still a challenge on squash. Brassica insect pressure has been relatively light, except for aphids which have been moderate in limited locations. Continue to scout regularly.”

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Cabbage looper feeding on a cauliflower leaf. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports seeing lots of worms and moths. “I have seen sweet potatoes stripped by stripped armyworms, armyworms, loopers and velvetbean caterpilars in greens, and millions of corn earworm moths in peas.  Also false chinch bugs are loving the turnips, kale, and mustard.  Strawberries are getting established. ”

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Worms of all kinds are wreaking havoc in the Pee Dee.  Photo from Tony Melton.

Field Update – 10/21/19

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “A few rain showers and some cooler temperatures have really helped out our fall crops.  Collards, kale, and broccoli have really perked up this week and some early stuff could possibly be cut this week. Our worm pressure has not been terrible this year but that does not mean you can take a week off of scouting.  Strawberries have gone in throughout the Lowcountry and are looking great after some cooler temperatures and rain. If you have not put up your deer fencing for strawberries, get it out ASAP.  Each plant can be worth around $3, so one night of feeding can really cut into your bottom line.”

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Brassicas have really perked up in the lowcountry. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got some much needed rain this past week thanks in part to Tropical Storm Nestor. This has our fall brassicas growing fast and looking great. We’re still seeing some whiteflies in brassicas, but the caterpillar numbers are a little lower for the time being.  Lots of strawberries were planted last week and they are developing well so far. The rain and cooler weather has really been helpful in getting them established. Strawberry planting will finish up this week for the folks planting larger acreages.”

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Collards are looking great after the rain and cooler weather.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Strawberry transplants that were set last week are already pushing out new leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Cooler temperatures and much needed rain are giving a boost to fall crops including collards, cabbage and broccoli. Bell peppers, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes are still being harvested as well as hemp. Strawberry plants have been going in over the past couple of weeks.

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Strawberry transplants set a few days ago. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee Region

Bruce McLean reports, “The recent rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Nestor helped to improve dry soil conditions in the Pee Dee. This beneficial moisture should help the remaining cucurbit crops (yellow squash, zucchini, and cucumbers) and the okra crop through the final few weeks of the season. Planting of brassicas (collards, cabbage, kale, broccoli, etc.) and spinach are finished. Strawberry planting should be finished in the next week. Worm damage on brassicas has been light, but aphids have been plentiful in isolated locations. Be sure to scout your fall crops regularly.”

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Okra crop is really starting to slow down, but quality is still good. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Still in the middle of harvesting processing sweet potatoes – not enough rain to size them up earlier, now having to wait for soil to dry and more rain is coming.  Bacterial disease on turnips bad this year (maybe because of the heat), losing about 1/3 of yield because we’re having to harvest early.  Also, reduced stand on greens from the beginning because of the excessive heat at planting.  Also, bacterial soft rot is bad in the heat where irrigation and harvest equipment has spread through the fields.  A lot of moths (Hawaiian webworm) flying in fields. We’re spraying once, which is more than usual (with Coragen and similar products) to keep larvae out of greens.  Last of the pickling cucumbers are being harvested this week.”

Upstate

 Mark Arena reports early harvest of pecans may begin soon. “Here are some tips for pecan management for the month of October. Prepare for harvest by mowing the orchard floor and keep it free of limbs and other debris. Maintain adequate soil moisture. Treat all “mouse ear” nickel deficiency noticed. Lime, zinc, phosphorus and magnesium can be applied if deficient. Scout and treat aphids, mites and pecan weevils as necessary. Apply preventative fungicides as scheduled and be aware of pre-harvest intervals for all chemicals applied.”

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Field Update – 10/14/19

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “A new technical bulletin published online by Clemson University’s Land-Grant Press will help watermelon growers choose tactics to manage Fusarium  wilt. Options include partially resistant varieties, delaying transplanting until soil has warmed, grafting, applying fungicides at transplanting, and winter cover cropping with vetch.  See: Keinath AP. Integrated Management for Fusarium Wilt of Watermelon. Land-Grant Press by Clemson Extension. 2019; LGP 1022.

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberries are going in or will be going in very shortly here in the Lowcountry.  I want to remind everyone how important it is that deer fencing is put up.  Ideally the fencing should be put up BEFORE the strawberries go in the ground.  I see hundreds of plants each year destroyed by deer.  Assuming the value of that plant is around $3 (1.5 lbs berries per plant and $2 lb), it doesn’t take losing a lot of plants to really feel the financial loss. Please read an article I wrote about setting up and maintaining an inexpensive deer fence here.

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Deer feeding damage can cause significant yield loses to strawberries.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather felt more like fall this past week, but still no significant rain.  The very first strawberries have been planted in the midlands with a lot more planting expected this week.  The first plants were set just before the weather cooled down and the heat really took a toll on them.  95 degrees just isn’t good for strawberry transplants.  The current weather should be much more favorable for planting.  Be sure to set plants at the proper depth and overhead water transplants adequately.  Take a look at this Strawberry Growers Checklist for some good tips for fall strawberry management.”

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The 95 degree heat really took a toll on these strawberry plugs.  Photo from Justin Ballew

Field Update – 10/7/19

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “Growers who have “slacked off” on fungicide applications during the dry spell should resume biweekly or weekly fungicide sprays in areas that are or have received rain. For most fungal diseases, the amount of rain determines how severe the disease becomes. The more rain, the more fungicide sprays are needed. Note that many fungicide labels now state that the product may only be applied once every 7 days; 5-day spray schedules are going away.

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “Another hot and dry week in the Lowcountry. Non irrigated crops are really starting to suffer.  Many farms are waiting on rain to plant fall crops.  We are beginning to prepare for strawberry season but dry conditions are making it hard to lay plastic. Festivals, corn mazes, pumpkins, and haunted trails are in full gear in the Lowcountry.”

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Sunflowers can add extra income to the farm during the summer and fall seasons. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was hot, but temperatures finally dropped over the weekend. It finally feels like fall.  Dry weather remains, though.  A few areas got some light showers, but it didn’t amount to much.  Growers have laid their plastic for strawberries and planting is approaching quickly.  Caterpillars are still very active in brassica crops and we are seeing some whiteflies as well.  Keep scouting and stay on top of the insects.”

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Plastic laid for strawberries. Planting will start soon. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Whiteflies are showing up on brassica crops in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We have had spotty rain throughout the Ridge but conditions are still very dry. Cooler night temperatures are bringing some relief. Field preparation for new peach tree plantings are underway including soil fumigation.  With the recent discovery of the root knot nematode, Meloidogyne floridensis, in fields in Edgefield County, growers can request a PCR test if nematode samples test positive for root knot nematodes.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Phytophthora blight on bell peppers has been found in Clarendon and Orangeburg County. Phytophthora blight on peppers is extremely damaging and can result in total loss of the crop prior to the first harvest. Proper fungicide applications and resistant cultivars can be used to suppress this disease. Sweet potatoes are being harvested, as well as eggplants. White-fly populations have been found in broccoli and mustard.

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Phytophthora blight on pepper. Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Field Update – 5/20/19

Statewide: Dr. Guido Schnabel reports, “Green fruit rot is starting to show up in commercial peach orchards. This disease is caused by the fungus Monilinia fructicola. In spring we had an extended period of bloom with lots of rain. That led to blossom blight caused by the same fungal pathogen. Growers must take this disease very seriously as it can cause significant preharvest and postharvest fruit rot. Many take advantage of our lab service to determine potential weaknesses in fungicide spray programs. For more information contact your local county agent or Dr. Schnabel directly at schnabe@clemson.edu.”

Green fruit(Monolinia fructicola) rot on a peach. Photo from Dr. Guido Schnabel.

Coast: Zack Snipes reports, “We have had nice warm weather that is helping the development of irrigated crops.  We are starting to get dry and could use some rain for dry land crops and to settle dust. We are in the middle of squash and cucumber harvest.  We are starting to see powdery mildew show up on cucurbit crops. The tomato crop looks promising this year despite the usual bacterial wilt common in fields.  To test for bacterial wilt, select a wilting plant, cut it through the stem, and put into a jar of water.  If the pathogen responsible for bacterial wilt is present (Ralstonia solanacearum), you will get what’s known as bacterial streaming which is a milky white stream coming from the cut end of the plant.

Bacterial wilt ( Ralstonia solanacearum) on tomato. Photo from Zack Snipes
Powdery mildew on squash leaf. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands: Justin Ballew reports, “The weather this past week was pretty mild, but dry. Thrips have become a problem in strawberries in some areas, but we are so close to the end of picking that most growers would not benefit from a treatment. Production has really decreased and some growers have already begun redirecting picking labor to other crops. Spring planted squash and peppers are starting to come into production and everything is looking pretty good. Keep an eye out for spider mites on tomatoes as it gets hot and stays dry this week.

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Peppers are developing well in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “We have begun picking early varieties of peaches across the Ridge. Things are looking good for a nice crop this year. Green fruit rot (Monilinia fructicola), also known as brown rot, has shown up in a few spots around the Ridge. We are continuing to monitor stink bug populations in orchards. Traps have shown high numbers of insects but damage has been scattered in this area.

Peaches are looking great on the Ridge. Photo from Sarah Scott.
Stink bug trap on the edge of a peach orchard. Photo from Sarah Scott.