Field Update – 5/26/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “Powdery mildew was found late last week on watermelon at the Coastal REC, Charleston. All watermelon growers should look at the photo below to be sure they can identify powdery mildew in the early stages. The spots are pale yellow, and, unlike squash, may not have white powdery growth under the spot on the bottom of the leaf. See Powdery Mildew on Watermelon Land-Grant Press 1019 for spray recommendations (https://lgpress.clemson.edu/publication/powdery-mildew-on-watermelon/).”

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Light yellow spots on watermelon leaf from powdery mildew. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I saw a good bit of powdery mildew last week on all cucurbit crops. I have had several questions this spring about injury to watermelon. I think the strong winds, sand, and spraying damaged the crowns of melons. They are growing out of it now but have had some folks concerned. Bacterial wilt is showing up in tomato as temperatures climb and fruit is loading up in the crop. Keep up with scouting for insects and diseases. Overall things look great.”

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Crown injury on watermelon due to high winds and sandblasting. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Conditions have been perfect for the development of powdery mildew on cucurbit crops. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Rob Last reports, “Watermelons generally look very good with great color and potential with early fruit set occurring.  Fusarium wilt is active at low levels in some places, as to be expected in areas of impaired drainage.  Also, I observed a little hail damage to watermelons and cantaloupe in Bamberg County.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been raining a lot in the Midlands, but we really needed some rain. I’ve had almost 6.5 inches at my house since last Monday (5/18). This has slowed down strawberry picking and we have a ton of water damaged berries. Botrytis is loving all the moisture. Most fields look like they will keep producing for a few more weeks,  just stay on top of fungicide programs. The moisture and warm temperatures have most other crops growing rapidly and looking good. Keep an eye out for disease.

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These strawberries sitting in water will be damaged and need to be removed from the field before botrytis begins to develop. Photo from Justin Ballew

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Tomatoes are loving the warm weather. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Anyone have an ark?  Many fields are flooded. Nutrients are washing away and strawberries are water-soaked.  Some strawberry farmers have stopped picking.  Water-logged soil causing crops to stop growing and we have to rely on airplanes to spray crops.  Weeds are enjoying the rain.”

Bruce McLean reports, “Last week was rainy in most locations, and this week looks like more of the same. Disease pressure is elevated due to excessive moisture. Seeing gummy stem blight showing up in cucumbers and bacterial spot in tomatoes. Thrips pressure had been high going into last week (especially on beans, peas, and cucumbers), and could still be high in the few locations that missed the heavy rains. But everywhere else, the heavy rains likely reduced thrips activity. Strawberries are finishing up. Heavy rains damaged most of the remaining red fruit. Blueberry harvest is starting to increase. Prior to rains, fruit was looking really good. The excess moisture did cause some fruit splitting, but no long term damage to the crop. Haven’t seen much thrips activity in muscadines yet, but now concerned with increased problems with calyptra release, a condition known as stuck cap. It’s a little early to tell, but could reduce yields.

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Thrips damage to southern peas. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “We are building the ark to send down to Tony in the Pee Dee!  Lots of flooded fields last week (and today) with many places seeing 4-6 inches of rain over 3 days. Strawberry growers halted picking and worked around the rains. Vegetable producers are replanting washed out crops and draining fields.  Peaches and apples continue to be on track for a good season. Localized hail damage is showing up on apples in Mountain Rest from one of the storms a few weeks ago.”

Field Update – 5/4/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We have had a very wet spring with some places receiving over 13 inches of rain this month.  Crops look surprisingly good considering the excess rain and cooler nights.  I have seen an increase in worm activity on brassicas, particularly the cabbage looper.  With all the rain, I have seen some hot spots of bacterial spot in tomato.  If you scout from your truck or tractor, you will not find bacterial spot until much later in the growing season.  The disease starts on the bottom leaves of your tomatoes and works its way up throughout the season.  Preventative products such as copper, mancozeb, and plant activator products are the only control measures we have. Get out and scout and look very closely, as the disease is very difficult to see in the beginning stages.”

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Cabbage looper on a cabbage leaf. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Bacterial spot starts on the bottom leaves and works its way up the plant throughout the season. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was really nice this past week. We got about an inch of rain early Thursday morning and it has been breezy since, so all the water dried up fast.  The weather conditions have been perfect for grey mold in strawberries and it is showing up in areas where folks are falling behind in sanitation. It looks like there are more blooms on the plants this week, but with temperatures in the 80’s for a few days, that may slow down some.  Thrips are still an issue in places and treatments are going out, so keep scouting. If you need to make an application for thrips, do it early in the morning or late in the day to avoid spraying foraging pollinators. Keep looking for spider mites as well.”

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Rotting berries covered in Botrytis spores can go unnoticed in between plants.  Every time the wind blows, spores from these berries will be dispersed to other areas of the field. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peaches are progressing nicely in the Ridge area. Growers started harvesting early varieties. Some issues of bacterial canker are still becoming more noticeable in later varieties. The first sprays for scale crawlers have been applied and growers are continuing weed and orchard management sprays. Still picking strawberries. Crops for summer harvest are being planted still such as tomatoes and cucurbits. We’ve had some nice rainfall over the past week to keep soil moisture up but we have had high winds that have caused some limb breakage in orchards and stress on young vegetable transplants in the field.”

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Russetting on peach, possibly from earlier thrips damage. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Winds are awful and damaging crops (sandblasting, wringing off plants, leaving spots on leaves and stems, causing wounds where disease like damping off can start and enter plants), stunting plants, and causing early flowering in tomatoes and peppers.  Insects are awful, including grasshopper, thrips, diamondback moth, yellow-margined beetle, and false cinch bugs.  Rains and irrigation to keep down sand blowing are causing leaching of nitrogen. In combination with decreased plant growth due to wind, we are adding extra nitrogen to get the plant size needed to get yields.  Hopefully, we can keep the processing tomatoes and peppers in the growth stage a little longer before the fruiting stage really kicks-in and further reduces plant growth.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “While some have been hesitant, many Upstate Farmers Markets opened for the season this past weekend. Utilizing revised set-ups, handwashing stations, and promoting social distancing people still came out to support growers. Strawberries in Pickens and Anderson Counties are producing well and growers are selling out quickly. Weather conditions have been great for growing the last few weeks, and many of our market growers will be starting to move into the production stage over the next few weeks.”

 

Field Update – 4/27/20

Late last week, the Clemson Agribusiness team sent out some updated information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Emergency Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).  Be sure to take a look at that info here.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had a few storms last week that brought heavy rains to the Lowcountry totaling 5 inches in some places.  The good news is that wind and sunny days have followed those storms which is helping to dry things out.  Highbush blueberries are in mid-harvest right now and rabbiteye varieties are sizing up and may be somewhat early this year. Our strawberry crop has been disappointing this year in terms of yield.  I am seeing a ton of thrips damage in strawberry.  The threshold used for thrips is 10 per blossom.  More thrips information from NC State.  Tomato and watermelon growers need to be scouting for thrips, as problems will develop later on from infestations we are having now.  I found the first cucumber beetles (striped and spotted) on crops this spring.  We had terrible infestations last year on cucumbers and melons that made fruit unmarketable.  If you find these on your farm you need to develop a plan to manage them (first generation) right now.”

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Severe Thrips damage causes unmarketable fruit. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had really nice weather last week and crops are growing very well. Strawberry harvest volumes are still good, but it appears bloom is slowing down in some fields.  Thrips pressure has been high recently and we’re seeing damage on some berries as a result.  If thrips are present, they can be found in the flowers or under the cap leaves of developing berries. If you’re seeing lots of damage, an application of Radiant may be needed. Brassicas are growing quickly right now. We’re still seeing high pressure of diamondback moth caterpillars.  Be sure to rotate insecticide MOA’s when treating for DBM.  If you suspect a population of DBM has developed resistance to one or more insecticides, let us know and we can arrange to test that population.”

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Thrips damage is characterized by a bronze color and cracks in the skin of the berry. Photo from Justin Ballew

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A young broccoli head, about an inch and a half wide, beginning to form. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberries, strawberries! Strawberries are coming off very well, right now. Quality is for-the-most-part very good, although last week’s showers did cause some water damaged fruit in some locations. Blueberry harvest should begin later this week. Volumes will be very light for the first week or so but should pick up soon. Muscadines are looking good, so far. Carlos variety is just beginning to bloom. Vegetables are still being planted heavily. Potatoes and greens are looking very good.”

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Pandorus Sphinx Moth hanging out in the muscadine vineyard at Pee Dee REC. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Late peach varieties have a short crop, early ones are ok.  Strawberry glut is over now producing a normal crop of smaller fruit.  Early large crop with big fruit was a large strain on the plants.  Thank goodness for these cool temperatures allowing flowers to set which should give us a good set into June.  Beans, cucumbers, and peas are slow due to these cool temperatures and wind.  Some having damping-off problems and applying Quadris or potassium phosphide now.  Mowing tops of sweet potatoes in the beds now and will be planting in a week or so.  Yellow margined beetle on brassicas getting worse in parts of the Pee Dee – look for the ugly small larvae eating leaves – easy to see.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “We are finding San Jose scale on peach in the upstate.  Crawling stage is out now and sprays are recommended for this pest.  It can when build up and completely kill a block of peach trees.  It is worse on late-season varieties.  Movento, Esteem, and Centaur are all labeled on this crop for that pest.  Make sure to remove completely dead limbs before spraying, if possible, and make sure you get extremely good coverage.  200 gallons of total spray solution is recommended to achieve that goal.”

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San Jose scale on a dead peach limb. Photo from Andy Rollins.

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Be sure to remove dead limbs prior to spraying for San Jose scale.  Photo from Andy Rollins.

 

Field Update – 4/6/20

At this point, only a few cities (Columbia, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach) have issued shelter-in-place orders.  The Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers, has drafted a Notice of Essential Food and Agriculture Employee form that farms in these areas may fill out for each employee certifying them as an essential employee.  They should keep this letter with them while commuting to and from work.  Commissioner Weathers also sent this letter to the law enforcement community in regards to his notice.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “A beautiful week of weather for working outside this past week.  Our spring crops look great as well as our early summer planted crops. Tomatoes look great and have really jumped.  I found some cranberry fruit worm in highbush blueberries last week that all blueberry growers will want to keep an eye out for.  Local produce sales are in great demand right now with lots of growers finding new ways to sell to new clientele.  Strawberry season is in full swing with U-pick operations having trouble keeping up with demand.  I’ve seen lots of makeshift handwashing stations at U-Pick farms, which I applaud growers for.  Had a few calls about thrips in strawberry this past week so keep an eye out for damage.  In every strawberry field that I was in this past week, I saw hot spots of spider mites.  Scout your fields, the entire field, daily and treat the hot spots before you have to treat the entire field.  It will save you money on both treatment and potential yield loss.”

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Handwashing stations at U-Picks are protecting both growers and customers. This one was set up for around $70. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Thrips damage on strawberry will leave the berry with a bronzed look and the outside of the berry will be hard resembling a plastic coating. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little cooler this past week than the week before.  We also had a little rain early in the week and dew several mornings. These were perfect conditions for Botrytis and anthracnose to develop in strawberries and both showed up in a number of places.  We have a lot of blooms and green fruit out there right now, so make sure to stay on a good spray schedule and rotate MOA’s.  Spider mite pressure remains high in some places. Strawberry yields have not picked up yet and growers are easily selling everything they pick. Brassicas are growing fast in this beautiful weather. Caterpillar pressure is still up requiring widespread sprays. Keep scouting.”

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Botrytis developing on a strawberry.  Weather conditions have been perfect for Botrytis and anthracnose recently. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Strawberry yields have not picked up yet, but we have lots of blooms and green fruit coming on. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach trees continue to progress,  thinning of fruit is happening for some varieties now. Strawberry crop is beginning to pick up. Cooler night temperatures last week slowed ripening some. Vegetable crops continue to be planted including eggplant and peppers.”

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Broccoli plants growing well in Saluda County. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Full speed planting processing vegetables.  Pickles, green beans, Butterbeans, peas, peppers, tomatoes are being planted.  Having trouble getting all the strawberries picked.  2nd Butterbean planting going in. 3rd sweet corn planting going in.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With beautiful skies and warm weather this past week, our upstate market gardeners are beginning to put things in the ground. While a little early for some, others are hedging their bets with multiple plantings over the next few weeks. Apples and peaches are continuing to progress with most apple varieties now in or near full bloom.”

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Tomato transplants for sale at a local garden supplier. Photo from Kerrie Roach.