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.”

Field Update – 7/20/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “It is always good to control goosegrass even if it is past the critical period for competition with the crop. Lack of late-season control made hand-harvesting tomatoes difficult in the field pictured below. Also, there will be a huge deposit of goosegrass seeds into the soil seed bank for next year unless the seeds are destroyed after the harvest.”

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Late season goosegrass growth can make harvest difficult and contribute lots of seed to the seed bank, which will have to be dealt with in future crops. Photo from Dr. Matt Cutulle.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We experienced a nice hot week of weather in the Lowcountry.  Most crops are finishing up with the heat and recent rains.  On later season tomato I have seen bacterial leaf spot on the fruit which makes fruit unmarketable.  I am seeing this on the second cluster of fruit set and not on the first or third clusters.  Hemp seems to be off to the races and looking pretty good so far.  There are within every hemp field occasional wilted, stunted, and yellowed plants.  These plants always have a weak root system and most of the time have girdling and interveinal discoloration.  Peppers and eggplants are loving this heat and are producing in high volumes.”

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Bacterial leaf spot showing up on the second set of fruit on the tomato plant. Photo from Zack Snipes. 

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Wilting of hemp is very common and often sporadic throughout fields. Photo from Zack Snipes

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was hot and mostly dry, though we did have some scattered thunderstorms come through over the weekend. Field prep for fall crops continues. We’ve had some fall tomatoes, peppers, and brassicas transplanted already and more to come this week. Everything is growing pretty fast right now and we’re still picking spring crops. Keep an eye out for spider mites, as they love the hot, dry weather we’ve had lately.”

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Fall tomatoes transplanted in Lexington this past week. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still ahead of schedule on peach varieties being harvested.  Early August Prince and August Prince are being picked now which is over a week earlier than usual. The fruit quality is still good with slightly smaller than ideal fruit.  With the extreme heat and lack of rain in the past week, summer crops like tomatoes and cucumbers are looking rough. Bell peppers are doing well.”

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An Edgefield County grower assessing his Early August Prince orchard. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Sweet potatoes are looking good. Establishment seems to be very good for the most part. Long green cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, peas, okra, and sweet corn are harvesting well. Condition is good to very good. Sweet corn will be wrapping up shortly. Blueberries are pretty much finished, with only a few remaining fruit on Powderblue. Fruit condtion is fair to good. Muscadines are coming along nicely and appear to have an excellent crop. Fresh muscadines should be beginning harvest soon, with wine/juice grapes still a few weeks from harvest. Be on the lookout for Grape root borer moths. They are starting to emerge. They were being caught in traps placed in vineyards in Marion and Horry counties.

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Grape root borer moths being caught in a bucket-style trap. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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No, this is not a paper wasp. It is a grape root borer moth. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Harvested first crop of processing peppers. Continuing to pick and plant pickles. Processing greens are over for the spring crop. Harvesting the first crop of processing and seed peas and planting fall crop.  Getting processing tomatoes out of the field as quickly as the plant can take them.  Things are drying out, hope we don’t go into drought with the heat.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Spotty rain and high temperatures have left many small growers scrambling for irrigation options throughout the Upstate. Peaches and nectarines are still being harvested. Blueberries are just about finished, and farmers’ market produce is starting to wind down with the heat. Apples should begin next week with early varieties like ‘Ginger Gold’  and ‘Golden Supreme’.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Plenty of early blight, bacterial spot/speck on tomatoes this season, but some of the more troublesome problems have been various tomato virus problems. When diagnosing virus problems it is important to get lab verification because herbicide injury can look very similar when just going by visual symptoms. If you suspect herbicide drift from a neighboring farm. Look for damage to other broadleaf plants in the area in between the suspected source and the damaged plants. Follow the wind direction.  You should have more severe damage on the leading edge. Also, herbicide residual from a previous crop like sunflowers can also give you herbicide damage that you did to yourself. Read and follow all pesticide label directions. There are plant back restrictions on some herbicides so be careful. If this is the case the damage should be fairly consistent/uniform throughout the area that was planted in the other crop.

Unlike both of these other situations, virus problems may come from your seed source, the greenhouse where plants were grown, or from weeds in the field. Pokeweed is commonly a source, as are many other broadleaf weeds. Thrips, aphids, and whiteflies are all known to vector viruses into plants. Symptoms are what you see below with “shoestring” looking leaves, leaves with distorted veins, and mosaic yellow and green coloration. There are many viruses that infect plants. Each of them can show different symptoms and also they can each look different on other plants as well. It’s even possible for a healthy-looking plant with no symptoms to be infected with several viruses.”

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“Shoestring” type leaf distortion may be a symptom of a virus or herbicide damage. Get confirmation from the plant disease lab. Photo from Andy Rollins.