Field Update – 7/6/20

Coastal

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

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

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

Midlands

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

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

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

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

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

Pee Dee

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

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

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

Upstate

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

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

Field Update – 6/29/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “In our area crops are generally looking good with watermelons and cantaloupes coming to harvest.  From a pest perspective, we are finding some early pickleworm and melon worm damage occurring. In addition, cucumber beetles and squash bugs remain active. Cucurbit downy mildew is being found in the area and as such protectant fungicide applications remain viable options. If in doubt scout.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Last week was full of heavy rain and heat. It finally feels like June.  Crops are either going one of two ways right now:  they either look great or they are succumbing to disease. Tomatoes are picking great and I’ve seen some really nice watermelons finish up this week. Peppers are loving this heat but I have seen an uptick in bacterial leaf spot (BLS) in the crop. Keep up with spray programs (copper and Manzate) for BLS in pepper. Tomatoes are also starting to look rough with all the heat and rain. If your tomato crop dies, please identify the culprit so we can better manage it next year. Soilborne diseases such as bacterial wilt and southern blight will not go away next year. I will be more than happy to work with folks on crop planning, cover crops, and rotation on their farms so we can avoid crop failures.

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A quick cut of the stem of a wilting plant and a dip into water can help to positively identify Bacterial Wilt in tomato. The presence of the pathogen will yield a clear to white ooze coming from the plant after a few minutes in the water. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Bacterial Leaf Spot is spreading in pepper due to the heavy rains and increased heat. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We finally got some widespread rain mid-week and it has rained in places most days since. Some areas received enough rain to cause temporary flooding in lower-lying fields. Remember, according to produce safety guidelines, any produce that was flooded may not be harvested. We should expect diseases to worsen in the coming weeks. Powdery mildew in cucurbits and bacterial spot in tomatoes has certainly increased in the past week. Crops are still developing very rapidly and we are picking lots of squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, sweetcorn, greens, beans, etc.”

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This field of cucumbers was temporarily flooded by the heavy rain last week. Photo from Justin Ballew

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A crew picking squash in Lexington. Squash and zucchini are growing like wildfire in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Raining almost every day some storms causing downed trees.   Root rot bad applying a lot of potassium phosphide. A few strawberry growers still picking around rains. Downy mildew bad but Ranman and Orondis are doing a good job of control. Peas are maturing and will not be too long until harvest. We need to hurry to get the second crop planted on the same land. Still planting sweet potatoes. Okra and tomatoes just started to bare. Southern stem blight is bad and we’re spraying Fontelis. Some first crop butterbeans are being harvested.”

Field Update – 6/15/20

Statewide

The video below is from Vegetable Weed Specialist Matt Cutulle. It shows a flame weeder attachment killing weeds around the edges of a field. The person walking behind the tractor is using a flame weeder with a propane tank on his back. These are good options for weed control in organic fields.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It’s the time of year when crops are starting to look ugly.  We are in the middle of tomato harvest and it seems to be a pretty good crop this year.  Bacterial spot is starting to spread up the plants due to a heavy fruit set, perfect weather, the inability to spray, and constant handling by pickers. Keep up with spray programs as the last few weeks of development are critical to size and taste.  Rabbiteye blueberries are coming in strong right now and look really good with the occasional berry having Exobasidum. Stink bug pressure has been very high this year and I’m seeing damage on a multitude of crops.”

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It is critical to know the difference between Southern Blight and Bacterial wilt when managing tomato diseases.  Southern Blight will have a white fungal mat with small “BBs” on the stem. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Bacterial wilt shows up in the same fields year after year. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Rob Last reports, “In our area, we are seeing some good quality watermelons and cantaloupes coming to harvest.  We are seeing some manganese toxicity related to low pH in both crops.  Also given the sporadic storms we have seen leaf potassium levels have been lower than ideal.  It would be recommended to monitor tissue nutrient levels and adjust fertilizer applications accordingly.”

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Manganese toxicity on cantaloupe leaves appears as round, tiny, tan spots, sometimes with a yellow halo.  This symptom can be misdiagnosed as early downy mildew. Foliar analysis can be used to diagnose Mn toxicity. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

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 On the leaf underside, the halo appears water-soaked (“greasy”). This symptom can be misdiagnosed as early downy mildew. Foliar analysis can be used to diagnose Mn toxicity. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got a little much-needed rain last week. Crops are developing quickly and growers have started harvesting the oldest planted sweet corn as well as squash, zucchini, cucumbers, beans, and what’s left of spring brassicas. Cucurbit downy mildew has not yet been found in the midlands, but it probably won’t be long. Keep applying preventative fungicides.”

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Zucchini almost ready to be picked. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach season is in full swing. Bacteriosis and brown rot continue to show up in many fields. Warm temperatures during an extended bloom period as well as rain and cold at critical times in the early season are likely the culprits for these issues.”

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Bacteriosis on ripening peach. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Cucumbers are being harvested in good numbers. Squash and zucchini yields are increasing. Sweet corn will be ready to begin harvest in a few days. Disease pressure is increasing in cucumbers, primarily Cucurbit Downy Mildew (CDM). CDM has caused significant damage and severely reduced the crop in two locations. Forecasted rains for the next 7-10 days will make it extremely difficult to spray fungicides (as well as applying insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizer). Fruit crops are being negatively impacted by the weather, as well. Reduced fruit quality is caused by increased disease pressure and wet field conditions. And, the forecast over the next 7-10 days is for more rain.”

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Checkerboard pattern indicative of Cucurbit Downy Mildew on cucumbers. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Purplish-brown sporulation on the underside of cucumber leaves confirms that it is Cucurbit Downy Mildew. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Cucurbit downy mildew is increasing rapidly with the rain, glad we started spraying Ranman or Orondis 2 weeks ago. With the rain, ponds have returned to our fields. As one of my vegetable farmers said “Not a good year to be in the Pee Dee vegetable business.” Hundreds of acres of beans, squash, cucurbits, and peas have drowned. Farmers are probably tired of me saying “Potassium Phosphide will help.” Regretfully, on brassicas, the yellowed margined beetle has become established in the Pee Dee, and downy mildew is awful. However, sweet potatoes are growing like a weed (its close kin morning glories).”