Weekly Field Update – 9/8/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “With all the rain we had in August the weed seed bank is starting to pop. Nutsedge pressure can be really tough in September.  For fall cole crop plantings, it is important to initiate the stale seed bed technique (allow weeds to come up and burn them down multiple times before planting). In some cole crops, such as broccoli, Dual Magnum may be used, which provides some pre-emergent suppression of yellow nutsedge (Max 60% probably). Following with an in-row cultivation several weeks after planting will strain the photosynthate reserves of nutsedge, which could be lethal to the nutsedge if we get a  cold snap in late October.”

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I saw whiteflies everywhere last week.  I saw them on just about every crop in the field: squash, zucchini, tomato, peas, eggplant, okra.  We have very good options to manage whiteflies, so consult with your local agent or look up the specific products for the crop you are growing in the Southeast Crop Handbook. Be careful not to use pyrethroids for whiteflies as resistance will develop very quickly.  Longer lasting, more specific options are available that are better options.  I also saw a good many worms last week such as the melonworm in cucurbits and the beet armyworm in other crops.  If you have whiteflies and worms in a crop then the group 28 insecticides (Coragen, Verimark/Exirel, Harvanta) are excellent options to take care of both pests at the same time with good residual.”

Whitefly infestations are severe in some places on the Coast. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Whiteflies on tomato leaves. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was extremely hot and dry, though we finally got some relief from the heat over the weekend. Crops are progressing well, though we are seeing caterpillar activity increase. We’re seeing diamondback moth and cabbage loopers in brassica crops and armyworms in tomatoes. Be sure to rotate insecticide MOA’s when treating for caterpillars. I’m also seeing a few whiteflies around, but nothing severe yet. Black rot is starting to show up on some brassicas. Strawberry growers are starting to apply their preplant fertilizers in preparation for shaping the beds.”

Black rot getting started on a young collard plant. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Muscadine harvest is starting to wind down. Harvest looked good and had very good yields. Brix averaged out at 13.5 to 14.5%, depending upon the cultivar and the vineyard. Now is a good time to evaluate successes and problems from this season and write them down while they’re fresh on your mind. Also, look at the overall amount of foliage on the vines. Is it too much? Not quite enough? Start planning how you need to adjust fertility for next year. A post-harvest potassium fertilizer application has proven to be beneficial to the crop (in on-farm settings), especially in wet years. Overall plant health, spring emergence and vigor, and next year’s yields should be well improved.”

A bin of Carlos muscadines ready to be loaded and delivered for processing. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Getting dry and need some rain. Busy planting turnips, mustard, and collards. Harvesting processing sweet potatoes as quickly as they can process them (problems in the plant). Picking pickles and yielding much better with dryer conditions. Also, pickling plants having trouble with getting enough labor so very few peppers harvested. Still spraying processing peas for cowpea curculio. Watch out for southern stem blight it is still raging havoc.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “The last few peaches are making their way to stands and markets. Things are continuing to look good as the Apple crop progresses in the upstate. Growers to the north in Hendersonville, NC suffered multiple hail events causing a large amount of damage, but SC growers seem to have escaped the worst of it. Vegetable production has slowed significantly with many small growers finishing for the season over the next few weeks. Muscadines are coming into their prime, and look to be highly productive this year.”

Golden Delicious apples that still have a little ways to ripen for optimum sugar content, but work great for baking. Notice the green tint. As they continue to ripen, a yellow cast & even a blush may appear. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “These plants were found positive for Phytopthora root rot last week in an early upstate strawberry planting.  Inspection of plants when they arrive can accurately diagnose this problem.  Brown to blackish colored roots are characteristic.  A small portion of this material is taken from 5-10 plants then placed into a pouch that accurately identifies the presence of Phytopthora within a few min.  As in picture, 1 line tells you the test worked properly 2 lines indicates presence of the fungus.  Early treatment with Ridomil and or any of the phosphite (Rampart/Prophyt) is very helpful but must begin quickly if plants are widely infected for the best results.”

Dark colored roots are a characteristic symptom of Phytophthora root rot. Photo from Any Rollins.
An immunostrip test can be used to diagnose phytophthora. Two horizontal red lines on the strip (right side of the bag) means the sample is positive for phytophthora. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 8/3/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Hurricanes or tropical storms can lead to increased seed dispersal from seeds that can be transported by wind and water. Two notorious weeds that come to mind when planning for hurricanes are Horseweed (Conyza canadenis), which due to lightweight seeds and plant architecture can be dispersed for miles during wind storms. A troublesome weed that can be dispersed through water (overflowing irrigation ditches, river surges etc.) is curly dock (Rumex crispus) due to the bladder-like structure of the seed. If you have access to a flame weeder or maybe Gramoxone it might be a good idea to get out to any fallow fields right now and start torching weeds with seed heads prior to this incoming storm to prevent unwanted widespread dispersal of weed seed.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We are anxiously awaiting to see what Hurricane Isaias will do today and tonight.  Hopefully, we will be spared of heavy rains and winds.  Some rain from the storm would not be a bad thing as many fields are dry.  I have been finding some leaf spots in rabbiteye blueberry, which is common for this time of year.  What is unique about the leaf spots is that they have caused the variety Tifblue to shed its leaves and then attempt to grow out more leaves.  The plant is weak and nutrient-starved so the new leaves are very small and red.  You will see red shoot flagging symptoms on Tifblue but no other varieties.  The other varieties will have the same leaf spot but they will still hold onto their leaves.  Increased fungicide applications between bloom and harvest should help with management of this disease and increase yields on Tifblue and other cultivars.”

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Fungal leaf disease on Powderblue that keeps its leaves despite having an infection. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Small, red leaves on Tifblue that are a symptom of leaf shedding and regrowth as a result of a fungal leaf disease. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Some of the midlands got some heavy rain this past week, while others remain dry as a bone. Parts of Lexington had a strong storm come through Wednesday night that washed out areas in some fields and left ponds in others. We will have to replant some areas where fall crops had just been planted. The weather has cooled of slightly since. Aside from that, folks are still prepping fields and planting fall tomatoes, peppers, and brassicas. We’re still thinning pecans also. For anyone planting strawberries this fall, now is a good time to start taking soil samples.”

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This field in Lexington had some large areas washed out by the storm that came through Wednesday night. Fall brassicas had just been planted and some areas will have to be replanted. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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A pond that formed in a field in Lexington during the rain Wednesday night. The geese aren’t mad about it (upper right side of the pond). Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Most vegetable and fruit crops look surprisingly good for the amount of heat we have had recently. Sweetpotatoes are growing very well. Peas, squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelons, okra, and cucumbers are all looking good and harvesting good quantities. Downy mildew is still showing up on cucumbers, and powdery mildew on squash and zucchini. Sweet corn and butterbeans are wrapping up. The blueberry crop is finished. Muscadine grapes are looking very good. Wine/juice muscadines are just starting to color (maybe around 2-3%) and should be ready to begin harvest in about three weeks. Fresh market varieties should be just getting ready to harvest now on the earliest varieties. Grape root borer (GRB) activity was high this past week, with some traps capturing 50+ moths. Too late for any type of treatment For GRB. Just monitor and plan for control next year. Powdery mildew damage is starting to show up in the vineyard. No signs of fruit rot yet. Stink bug damage has been very light in vineyards with a strong spray program.”

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Damage from powdery mildew is starting to show up on muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Mighty nice crop of ‘Carlos’ muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “All processing peas are harvested for the spring crop, but we have some cowpea curculio because of uneven crop due to excessive rain.  Fall cowpea crop is planted or is rapidly being planted.  If they found seed, farmers have already planted fall butterbean crop.  Getting ready to plant fall brassica crops.  Hopefully, all vegetable growers sprayed potassium phosphide on all vegetable crops before all the rain comes for root rot control.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Rain has still been spotty around the Upstate, so irrigation has been extremely important for vegetable production. Storm tracks are showing that the Isaias will bring some relief for the entire area. Early apple varieties are beginning to ripen, but sugar levels are still a little low. Blueberries are about finished for the season and peaches are hitting mid-stride. Cover sprays on tree fruits will be necessary as soon as the rain event passes. Insect pressure is increasing on vegetable crops as we move later into the season and into early parts of fall cropping, so scouting is extremely important.

Field Update – 7/13/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Summer crops are all but about done. The afternoon thunderstorms, humidity, and heat have just about finished off the tomato and watermelon crops. Growers are getting fields ready for the fall season now. Consider putting up deer fencing now before crops are planted.

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A field of squash on Johns Island protected with a two-tiered poly fence. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got some more rain early in the week and the sky was overcast most of the week. Downy mildew finally showed up here in cucumbers. Even though it’s been found all over the coast, it took a while to make it this far inland this year. The dry weather we had most of the month of June may have had something to do with that. Anyone growing cucurbits from now through the fall definitely needs to be applying preventative fungicides. Lots of fields are transitioning from spring crops to fall crops right now. We’re still picking sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, etc.”

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Dark-colored downy mildew spores on the underside of a cucumber leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew

Lalo Toledo reports, “Sweet potatoes are in the ground and thriving. Please be aware of any pest activity and disease activity. Weeds are becoming a problem, especially in organic operations. However, there are several options to suppress weeds. Please contact your extension agent for information on chemical and cultural practices. Hemp is having trouble taking off with so much heat and weeds are gaining ground on it. Peppers are doing great with some minor bacterial lesions.”

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Hemp field with nutgrass (organic operation). Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Poured rain every day last week – awful.  Processing peas are ready to harvest but cannot get a dry period to burn down to harvest.  Need to get second crop processing peas planted before August if fields will ever dry out – don’t forget to control thrips early and do your best to keep deer out of fields.  Processing tomatoes & peppers are being harvested.  Pickling cucumbers are continually being harvested and replanted.  Sweet potatoes are planted, most have been laid-by, many have vines covering beds, and some are starting to size potatoes.  We may have some insect damage on roots since it is difficult to get bifenthrin applied and plowed-in.  Hopefully, the Lorsban will control insects, and since it is too wet to plow until the rain can wash the bifenthrin into the soil to keep the sun from degrading it.  Don’t forget the boron on sweet potatoes.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Peaches are the showstopper this week in the Upstate! Even with what appears to be late cold damage causing split pits and some varieties not to ripen, the peach crop is still booming. Apples are maturing on schedule and growers should begin harvesting early varieties over the next few weeks. With limited and spotty rain events over the last seven days, irrigation has been vital for vegetable producers…. but heat and humidity (despite the overall lack of rain) has increased the need for fungicide cover sprays, as we’ve seen various fungal activity picking up across the board.”

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Peaches are coming in and are looking great in the upstate. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

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).”

Field Update – 6/1/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Yellow nutsedge is one of the more problematic weeds we deal with and we are approaching peak nutsedge season with the heat and all the rain we have been getting. Post herbicide options are limited in most vegetable crops. However, if growing sweet corn you may have the option to combine a good (Basagran) Post nutsedge herbicide with an average Post nutsedge herbicide (Callisto) to provide excellent control of yellow nutsedge. Please consult your seed company regarding whether a specific variety is expected to be tolerant to post-emergent applications. The majority of sweet corn is tolerant to PRE application of Callisto.”

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Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some heavy rains in places last week, but everything seems to be drying out. It seems that every crop is coming in right now from basil to zucchini so everyone is busy out in the fields. Now is the time, when things are busy, that insects and diseases thrive. Perhaps a weekly fungicide application is skipped and a small issue turns into a disease or insect outbreak. Stay on your scouting, IPM, and spray programs as much as possible.”

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Spring collards left in the field and forgotten but are not forgotten by the insects. Destroying this crop residue now will decrease the fall insect pressure. Photo from Zack Snipes,

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Lots more rain last week, but the weekend was nice and allowed for a lot of the excess water to dry up. It doesn’t take long in our sandy soil. Lots of water damaged strawberries along with Botrytis and either Rhizopus or Mucor rot (possibly both). Some growers have wrapped up picking and others will be wrapping up soon. We’ve had a decent picking season here in the midlands and reported sales were very good. Other crops like tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, and beans are growing fast and looking good. Stay on top of disease programs right now.”

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Squash is growing fast and it won’t take long for this little one to be ready to harvest. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach harvest is going strong throughout the Ridge. Warmer, wet weather has been on the increase which could give way to some emerging pest and disease issues. Brown rot is showing up in some orchards. Bacterial spot is also heavy in areas. Continue spray programs following the Southeastern Peach,  Nectarine and Plum Pest Management Guide. Summer crops and looking good with some powdery mildew showing up in squash. Increased diamondback moth caterpillars in broccoli.”

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Phytotoxicity from insecticide sprayer left running while turning the corner of the row. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberry season has (for-the-most-part) come to an end. Heavy rains for the last two weeks was the primary reason. Excess moisture has damaged blueberries and caused a somewhat early harvest of potatoes. Many fields are too wet to make pesticide applications. Disease, insect, and weed pressure is getting rather heavy in spots. Fertility is a major concern, as well. Much of the pre-plant fertilizer applied early in the season is likely leached out/moved in the soil profile, and fields are too wet to apply fertilizer. Drier conditions are desperately needed to improve field and crop conditions.”

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Heavy blooming and fruit set on Carlos muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Heavy persistent rains causing blueberry fruit to split. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “I am thinking about becoming an aquaculture agent to help farmers stock all these ponds from the rain in their fields. I am recommending folks to spray phosphide products to perk-up the crops and help with all the root rot – even if it has to be done with an airplane. Thrips, stink bugs, and false cinch bugs are awful this spring. We have Pythium growing in sweet potato transplant beds and on cucumbers from the heat and rain. Everything from cucumbers to peppers are baring early because of the stress of the wind earlier in the spring. We are adding extra nitrogen to everything because of the leaching rains. Weeds are taking over the world.”