Weekly Field Update – 8/2/21

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “Summer crops like okra are still coming in and looking good. We’ve had a lot of rain and some fields are soggy. More rain is coming. Some growers have started planting peppers and tomatoes. Remember to get out in the fields and destroy spring crop residue. Nematodes and other pests can really thrive on that old residue.”

Root knot nematode infestation on tomato roots. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was by far the hottest week we’ve seen so far this summer. It’s been a very mild summer, so last week was actually a reminder of what “normal” is here. Tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and sweet corn are still being harvested. More fall brassicas, cucurbits, and some tomatoes were planted this past week. I haven’t heard of any reports of serious caterpillar activity yet, but remember to start scouting as soon as you plant. It doesn’t take long for caterpillars to significantly damage brassica seedlings.”

We’re still picking some good looking sweet corn in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things in the Upstate, like much of the rest of the state, have been particularly hot and dry this last week. Irrigation has been of utmost importance as well as mitigation of disease and insects. As we move later in the season, things are starting to slow down, but now is the time to start prepping and planning for any of those fall plantings. For our smaller market growers, season extension by utilizing fall crops can be a great addition. Many farmers markets are looking for growers to sell in the early fall, and competition is slim, often making sales easier. Do your homework BEFORE plating and start looking now at local markets ending dates, vendor loads, customer preferences, and plan accordingly. Check out the SE Veg Crop Handbook for fall planting dates from many of your favorite crops. 

Weekly Field Update – 7/19/21

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath’s remarks on fungicide stewardship:

Growers who are applying newer fungicides that are pre-mixes of two active ingredients do not need to add another fungicide to the tank mix. Pre-mixes can easily be identified by the two FRAC Codes on the label in the top right corner. Please consider the following points:

Quadris Top contains two fungicides: a group 11 and a group 3.
  • Many newer fungicides are sold as pre-mixes to reduce the risks of fungicide resistance in fungal and water mold pathogens. Mixing two active ingredients often is a way to prevent or slow resistance development, as long as both active ingredients work against the same disease.
  • Sometimes two active ingredients are mixed to expand the range of diseases controlled. For example, Quadris Top controls both anthracnose (the Quadris part) and gummy stem blight (the “Top” part, which is Inspire).
  • Mixing more than 2 pesticides, whether they are 3 fungicides or 2 fungicides plus an insecticide, increases the risk of pesticide injury (burn). Risks may be greater if a spreader-sticker is added, or when air temperatures are above 90 F.
  • Adding another fungicide to a pre-mix fungicide increases fungicide costs, often without increasing disease control.

Growers should contact their Extension agent before adding another fungicide, even a protectant, to a pre-mix fungicide to be sure it’s really necessary.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Not much has changed in the midlands over the last week. We’ve received some scattered rain and it has been warm and humid. As a result, we are still seeing disease issues. We’re still picking tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet corn, and a few greens. We’re at an in-between stage in several fields where the spring crops have been finished and folks are preparing to plant fall crops. Some have already started fall cucurbit plantings. For anyone planting strawberries this fall, if you are still deciding which varieties to try, take a look at the NCSU’s 2020/2021 variety comparison data (pages 9 and 10).

Disease development like this anthracnose of watermelon is still being favored by the weather. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are looking pretty good across the Pee Dee. Fields that have received rain or are irrigated look very good. Fields that have missed the rain are a bit drought-stressed. Sweet corn, peas, butterbeans, tomatoes, squash, watermelons, cantaloupes, and cucumbers are all being harvested in good volume. Okra is just beginning to be harvested well. Growers are still fighting cucurbit downy mildew (CDM) on cucumbers. Fields that have been sprayed with fungicides for CDM (Orondis Opti, Gavel, Ranman, and Omega) are relatively clean and producing well. Fields that have not received those products are in severe decline. Cowpea curculio is still being a challenge. Some growers have asked about adding PBO8 (Piperonyl Butoxide) synergist to their insecticide application. Research has shown some efficacy, so it does help. But, it is not the silver bullet that everyone is looking for. There really is no alternative to having a robust spray program, spraying every three to five days starting prior to bloom.

Many varieties of blueberries have already finished up, with only mid-late and late rabbiteye blueberries going now. Blackberries have finished up, as well. Summer primocane tipping and floricane removal has begun. Be sure to apply a broad-based fungicide to all open wounds/pruning cuts to prevent disease development (I.e. cane blight, etc). Muscadines are sizing up pretty well. Grape root borer traps have been placed in vineyards, but no moths captured yet.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things in the Upstate were a little wet the last few days and it looks like showers will continue into the middle part of the week at least. Continue preventative measures for disease control and if/when a plant seems too far involved, remove and dispose of the entire plant to prevent further spread. Squash vine borer has been one of the continued problems in market garden production in the last 2 weeks. At this late point in the season and lifecycle, monitor plants closely and as soon as frass is seen, carefully cut the stem longitudinally and remove/kill the larval stage of the borer. You can mound soil on the cut part of the stem to help encourage new root growth. If done early enough, plants can continue to thrive despite the slice in the stem. New plantings of cucurbits set out in the last week or so should mature after the adults have finished laying eggs, but monitor closely for any wilting. Crop rotation, row covers, traps (yellow bowl of water), and pesticide applications can also be used as a part of a good IPM program. Check out the crop handbook for more specifics. 

Organic Upstate vegetable production. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “We are having thrips issues on 3 crops peaches, pepper and cucumber. Thrips as seen in the picture cause surface damage to the outside make it aesthetically less appealing and marketable. On pepper they damage the leaves and can transmit viruses to the plant (on cucumber also). They are much worse in greenhouse and high-tunnel settings.  I have been recently concerned about presence of chili thrips and I am waiting on definite identification. This is a good website about this new pest. I also found a rare disease called foot rot of squash in the upstate. It was identified by Dr. Tony Keinath. Rotation is very important with all of our vegetable crops. We are picking some excellent quality peaches in the upstate. Cold damage has limited our wholesale picking.”

Thrips injury to peaches. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Fusarium foot rot of squash. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 5/24/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “As we mentioned last week, cucurbit downy mildew has been confirmed in cucumber crops locally. All cucurbit growers should be applying downy-mildew specific fungicides such as Ranman tank mixed with either chlorothalonil or mancozeb. Other pests and disease levels in cucurbits remain low. Tomatoes and peppers are developing well with good fruit development and low pest and disease pressure. A little bacterial spot is beginning to show in untreated crops. Applications of mancozeb or copper can help to hold the disease. Note applications are unlikely to “cure” bacterial disease. Fruit crops continue to progress with good quality and low disease. Strawberries are showing a little botrytis and anthracnose, but this is at a low level. Peaches are coming to market along with blueberries and blackberries.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Dry weather has returned to the midlands. Strawberries have slowed down and while we’re still picking a few, we are seeing very few blooms. The heat we’re expecting this week is likely to cease bloom production. The heat could be a problem for tomato and cucurbit pollination as well, as we may see some blooms die. Brassicas have been growing well. There has been an increase in diamondback moth activity over the last week. If you start seeing large DBM populations on your farms, contact your local agent about doing a bioassay to test for insecticide resistance. This is a great way to figure out which materials may work best on your farm. We don’t charge anything for this service. Don’t forget downy mildew was found this past week in cucumber in multiple places in the coastal plain, so it’s time to start preventative fungicide sprays in cukes if you haven’t already.”

An adult diamondback moth has just finished pupating and has not yet dispersed. Remember, insecticide applications should target the larval form rather than the moths. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “We are in full swing with early variety peach harvest. Some peaches are developing a little smaller in size partly due to previous cold weather events. Something spotted in the field has been some nutrient deficiency. Growers may have been tempted to dial down nitrogen or calcium nitrate applications on peach blocks that suffered cold damage as they thought those blocks would not produce a viable harvest, however this could lead to leaf drop and less reserves for next year’s crop. If you skipped out on some of your fertilization keep in mind yellowing, spotting and leaf drop could occur. A soil application of calcium nitrate at 30lb/acre now and another in late July can help those trees recover some foliage and build up a nutrient supply for next year’s reserve. Be careful if you want a quick result and try foliar applications, as this could burn the leaves and cause more drop that you may not be able to afford.”

Nitrogen deficiency on a mid season peach variety. Photo from Sarah Scott
Discoloration from nitrogen deficiency looks similar to copper burn but has smoother edges and more rounded spots on leaves. A nutrient analysis can be taken around July to determine accurate levels. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Irrigated vegetables are looking good for the most part. Seeing some stress to tomatoes with a heavy fruit load – likely from very low humidity and very high UV. Nonirrigated crops are starting to show some drought stress. Strawberries are starting to wind down. Blueberries are finally starting to be harvested, much later than usual. Blooming on muscadines appears to really stretched out due to the Easter freeze. Early flower clusters on growth from primary buds appears to be somewhat on time. But, flower clusters developing from secondary buds are really behind… possibly 3-4 weeks (easily). Soil is really starting to get dry in many areas.”

Green beans are really coming along. Photo from Bruce McLean
Now is a good time to walk the fields and pull weeds. Over-the-top herbicides are limited for most vegetable crops, and often hand weeding is the only viable option. Vigorous weeds like pigweed can quickly overtake a field. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “The higher temperatures have started to speed-up crops. We will start to harvest pickles this week. Spraying downy mildew fungicides on cucurbits. Some farmers are starting to apply insecticide for pickleworm. They don’t want to put out insecticides this early but they see the gamble of an entire field of pickles being rejected because of 1 pickleworm as too much of a gamble. These farmers think we need a system set-up to detect pickleworm in the southern part of the state to give them a better indication of when pickleworm arrives. Harvesting greens, cabbage, and broccoli as quickly as possible. Started planting sweetpotatoes. Many farmers getting deer depredation permits for peas, beans, and sweetpotatoes. Also, many farmers are applying acephate and dimethoate to control thrips with the added benefits of repelling deer. Peppers and tomatoes are begin to load with fruit. Many farmers still harvesting strawberries.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things in the ‘Golden Corner’ are looking up for vegetable producers, despite the dismal projection for tree fruit crops because of the cold events in April. For market growers, cool season crops are at their absolute last with 90+ degree temps forecasted for this week. Warm season crops are starting to really get growing, and many growers are starting to see some potential harvests this week. With higher than normal temps projected, make sure irrigation is consistent, scheduled and set for early morning to avoid leaf wetness late in the day and overnight and reduce disease incidence.”

Weekly Field Update – 5/17/21

Check out the new podcast, “The SC Grower Exchange” featuring Clemson Extension fruit and vegetable agents. The podcast is moderated by Sarah Scott from Edgefield and covers a more detailed look at what is happening in the fields across the state. New episodes are recorded weekly, so listen weekly and subscribe through Spotify, Google, or Apple.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Everything is progressing nicely in the Lowcountry.  We got some much needed rain last week.  Temperatures have been cool so things are somewhat slow from a developmental standpoint.  All the crops look great especially the tomato crop.  We have a really nice fruit set and very little disease.  I am expecting to see bacterial spot to show up sometime soon and have been getting a few calls about bacterial wilt taking down plants. I’ve also gotten a few calls about blossom end rot. That is typical on the first fruit set and will usually correct itself provided there is ample calcium in the soil AND the soil moisture is consistent.  In our sandy soils the main cause of blossom end rot is allowing the soil to dry out during the fruiting stage. Folks might want to consider multiple 30 minute to 1 hour irrigation cycles on tomatoes per day.”

A beautiful field of tomatoes on one of the Sea Islands. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got right at an inch of rain at my house this past Wednesday. While the rain was much needed, the moisture and cool temperatures has allowed plant diseases to get a foothold in numerous crops. Over the last week, I’ve seen bacterial blight in mustard, downy mildew in collards, Septoria leaf spot in Italian parsley, and of course botrytis and a little bit of anthracnose fruit rot in strawberries. Growers have been sanitizing, applying fungicides, and/or terminating old crops to manage disease. When selecting fungicides, be sure to rotate MOA groups (referred to as “FRAC Codes” in the SE Vegetable Crop Handbook) to avoid developing fungicide resistance in your fields.”

Bacterial blight showed up in mustard following the recent heavy rain. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “A major pickle company found cucurbit downy mildew on pickles in Calhoun County. I have seen 100 acres of pickles damaged by hail and another 100 acres damaged by Reflex carry over. Next year, please make sure you are planting the right variety of strawberry for the intended market. When markets get full like this year, buyers are picky of the variety they will buy and many acres were not harvested to their full potential. Remember to control thrips on small peas, cucumbers, and beans. Also, control thrips in the flowers of tomatoes and beans. 

Field Update – 5/10/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I have received calls regarding injury from Curbit in direct seeded cucumbers this year. This can be partly attributed to the colder spring we had this year and potentially seeding to shallow. Seeds germinating in that herbicide layer will have increased stunting in colder soil temperatures.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Following some hail events last week, we find some shredded leaves in cucurbits and some small fruit crops. Strawberries continue to develop well, with isolated incidences of gray mold being seen. Sanitation is one of the critical methods for managing gray mold along with fungicide applications. Thrips are also beginning to be observed. Blueberries in the area are being harvested with good quality fruit. Keep a close eye on scouting for insects. Spider mites are still active in many crops. Cucumber beetles continue to increase as they are migrating from overwintering sites. Many populations are at or very close to the threshold of five adult beetles per plant.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The word in the field right now is…boring. We have had mild temperatures and not much rain so there isn’t a whole lot of disease in the fields right now. I saw the first tomato plant casualties to Bacterial wilt earlier this week. There isn’t anything you can do if you see this disease at this point. Take notes on what varieties and where you see the wilting to help with the issue next year. We have a good fruit set on the tomato crop.  We are seeing heavy volumes of squash and zucchini being picked right now. Melons are blooming in some places and in more coastal areas are sizing up.”

Bacterial wilt causes sudden wilt of tomato plants. Typically it will get a few plants within the same row. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Highbush blueberry variety trial taste test. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was a tough week for strawberries. We had a couple heavy rain events, one of which brought hail with it. Several crops suffered torn leaves from the hail including strawberries, brassicas, and cucurbits. We had a lot of water damaged berries which have kept growers busy sanitizing. We are seeing higher amounts of disease since the rain including botrytis and a little bit of anthracnose fruit rot. Cyclamen mites were found in strawberries this past week. Infested plants from nurseries are a major source for cyclamen mites. The symptoms are very similar to thrips damage, so if you’re seeing crinkled, dark-colored leaves or bronzing and cracking on the fruit, reach out to your local Extension agent for help distinguishing the cause before making treatments. Also, I’m not seeing a whole lot of blooms on the plants, so we may only have a couple weeks of picking left. Keep that in mind if planning miticide or insecticide applications and plan accordingly.”

Monday afternoon hail left holes and tattered leaves in several crops across a fairly wide swath in Lexington County. Photo from Justin Ballew
Crinkled, dark colored leaves from cyclamen mites. Thrips cause similar symptoms, so be sure to determine what caused the damage before treating. Photo from Justin Ballew
Cyclamen mites on a developing strawberry (45x magnification). The arrow on the right is pointing to a juvenile mite. The arrow on the left is pointing to an egg. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach harvest has slowly started with the earliest of varieties. With the drier weather we have not seen a lot of bacterial spot however we will be on the lookout in the coming days with the forecast showing some moisture coming our way. Cover sprays continue for later varieties and we expect active scale crawlers in the next week or so.”

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Much of the northern portion of the Pee Dee received beneficial rains over the last week or so, although it did come by the way of severe storms. Damage to fruit and vegetable crops was (for the most part) minimal, with more significant damage (damaged plastic, broken tomato plants, wind damaged leaves on cucumbers and squash) localized. Vegetable planting has resumed. Thrips activity has been seen on cucurbits and peas. Disease on strawberries (primarily botrytis) has been really heavy, since we have received recent rains. Growers need to step up on old, damaged and disease fruit removal and their fungicide sprays to try to get it back under control. Blueberries are coming along… slowly. First harvest looks to be a bit behind normal timing. Muscadines did take a bit of a hit during the Easter freeze. A lot of primary buds were damaged (on Carlos and Noble muscadines) and were replaced by secondary buds. How it will affect the harvest…we’ll see.”

Lost of primary buds during the Easter freeze event forced the secondary buds to break. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Seeing 2,4-D damage on tomatoes including a high tunnel plants near harvest, a high tunnel with transplants, and a field with plants setting fruit. Also seeing Roundup damage in a field of tomatoes and a greenhouse with thousands of many types of transplants (sprayed under beds).  We’ve seen hail damage on a strawberry field, and plastic destroyed on a high tunnel. Curbit damage on 50 acres of pickles. Planting too shallow and too much irrigation. Starting to harvest fresh market cabbage and processing collards. Pickle plants starting to run, flower, and get sprayed for belly rot. Spraying peas, beans, and cucumbers for thrips.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things are starting to pick up speed in the Upstate. With the potential of a late frost finally past, growers have been busy planting warm season vegetable crops in the ground. Strawberries are still doing well, with heavy rains interrupting harvest only a few times early last week. This week’s weather is projected to be unseasonably cool, but not cold with potential rain for a couple days. Insect issues should continue to stay low, but growers should be monitoring closely for disease under these conditions.”

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 – 4/5/21

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Temperatures checked in at 28 F at the northern end of Charleston County one night this past week. Strawberries were covered but some blossoms are showing damage. The weather this week should really push berries and give us our first big flush of the season. Lots of acres of tomatoes are planted and before the cold were looking pretty good.  Time will tell how much the cold will slow them down. It has been very windy in the Lowcountry as well which I think has slowed down development on some crops. Spring brassicas are looking great with very low worm pressure right now. That does not mean we should stop scouting. Populations can jump very quickly.”

Tomatoes were looking ok before the cold nights. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A fall seeded brassica crop beside strawberries is blooming. The thought behind this cover crop is the early blooms will encourage beneficial insects that will prey on the early season thrips which have been causing lots of cosmetic damage on strawberries the past few years. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a couple frosts late last week and the temperature got down to 30 degrees at my house. Growers covered their strawberry fields, so we don’t expect to see any damage there. We’re getting very close to picking on a larger scale. I’ve seen some nutrient deficiencies in a few strawberry fields, so be sure to tissue sample periodically and adjust fertigation accordingly. Now that we’re into April and the forecast looks warm, many growers will begin planting cucurbit crops this week. A few already had seed in the ground before the frost. The first plantings of sweet corn are up and growing well.”

One of the first plantings of sweet corn is up and looking good. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Still determining damage from frost. One grower had 40 A of butterbeans emerging – sprayed with a frost control product. Sweet potatoes slips are up, covered with plastic, and beds are covered with slips (about a month out from planting). Cabbage is beginning to cup, head, and touch in the rows. Asparagus was hurt by cold and most harvest is over. Starting to plant pickles, peppers, and tomatoes. Picked all ripe fruit and sprayed for disease before frost – this coming weekend will be a good harvest for most growers.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With some very cold nights last week in the upstate, the apple and peach crops took a significant hit. With extreme differences in topography, each grower has different severities of loss, but the overall consensus is not great. It will be another week to tell for sure on the apples and a little over a week to tell on the peach crop with certainty. One orchard recorded a low of 25 degrees F on the first night and 26 the following night. Night one was actually less damaging because of a persistent wind, where night two was calm and allowed the cold air to settle in. As we assess damages in the orchards, here is a great explanation of how it is done: https://extension.psu.edu/orchard-frost-assessing-fruit-bud-survival