Field Update – 4/20/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had severe storms roll through the Lowcountry at the beginning of last week.  Fortunately, we had very little damage to most of our crops.  We had some damage to older squash and zucchini and some damage to untied tomatoes.  For the most part, we escaped with little to moderate damage and should still make some good crops. Strawberries are coming in strong but it seems like this could be our last push of the season.  I do not see many blooms coming on and our overall plant size and number of crowns per plant seem low for this time of year.

IMG959558.jpg

Ants and mole crickets have become more of a problem for produce growers in the past few years. Photo from Zack Snipes.

IMG959551

Burn on leaf margins caused by overapplication of boron. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We didn’t see any damage from the storms last Monday morning other than some water damaged strawberries. We’re sure to have more damaged berries once the rain clears out today. Be sure to carry damaged and rotting berries out of the fields so they won’t become a source of inoculum for Botrytis and anthracnose. Growers selling locally are still seeing good demand for their produce. To try to keep everyone safe, some strawberry growers are opting to sell only pre-pick berries. Brassicas are growing rapidly and looking great, though diamondback moth caterpillar pressure has become pretty high. Be sure to rotate modes of action when selecting DBM insecticides. Everything else (tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, squash) is growing well also.

20190506_093859.jpg

Water damaged strawberries. Photo from Justin Ballew.

20200417_103152.jpg

The first plantings of tomatoes are growing really well.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach trees continue to be thinned. This week we will likely begin to see scale crawlers present and should take action with a spray of Esteem. Bacterial canker has been noted across the state this year as seasonal conditions warranted a good year for inoculation.  Peach fruit is progressing nicely with some of the earliest varieties potentially beginning to ripe in just a few weeks.”

20200416_144629

Peaches that have been thinned with fruit distanced about 6 inches apart. Photo from Sarah Scott.

20200416_144732

Early variety peach progressing nicely in Edgefield County. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Planting of vegetables is wide open, right now. Cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, melons), beans and peas, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are all going in. Greens are looking good. Potatoes are coming along nicely, despite having to be planted late. Starting to see Colorado potato beetles in potatoes. Frequent scouting and timely insecticide applications are key to their control. Strawberries yields are really starting to pick up. A lot of nice-sized, sweet strawberries are available now. Blueberry fields are starting to get that tinge of blue on the earliest berries. We should start seeing some fruit being harvested in the next few days.

IMG_0899

Colorado potato beetle on a potato leaf. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “It was getting dry, thank goodness for the rain.  Most of our butterbeans and peas are grown with irrigation.  Most of our first crop cucumbers are starting to hit the rapid growth stage – get out and sharpen the plows.  Greens are loving this weather.  Watch out for yellow margined beetle- you will most likely see the brown ugly small grubs – they like sandier soils.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With beautiful skies over the last week since the outbreak of tornadoes across the state, growers have been able to get back into the fields. Last night and this morning’s heavy rains caused some minor runoff and ponding, but nothing we haven’t seen before. A few scattered nights/mornings with cold temperatures do not seem to have caused any significant damage to the peach or apple crops. The biggest news in the Upstate has been cleanup… cleanup of the Seneca area and further up near Pumpkintown. So far, there has been a very limited reported effect from the tornados on the fruit & vegetable growers. We’ve had many livestock producers with downed fences and shelter roof damages, but nothing too severe. Residential areas were the hardest hit, and the community has really shown out in its response.

Seneca Tornado.png

EF3 tornado damage from Seneca, SC. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “This is damage seen on multiple farms is believed to have been caused by self-inflicted miticide application with a surfactant, or possibly damaged from the sun. What allowed us to learn this is that almost all of the damage is located on the top side of the fruit but when flipped over the portion of the shaded berries remained undamaged.  Please be careful with all fungicide/pesticide applications and make sure you are following all of them.  If the label doesn’t call for a surfactant to be used…..please do NOT use one.

IMG_1190

Damage possibly from using a surfactant with a miticide or from the sun. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 4/13/20

All of SC is now under a “Home or Work” order from Governor McMaster. Farming is an essential industry, so Commissioner Weathers has issued this Notice of Essential Food and Agricultural Employee form that farms may fill out for each employee certifying them as an essential employee. Employees should keep this form with them while commuting to and from work.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had a great week of weather last week in the Lowcountry.  I am extremely concerned and curious to see what things look like after the powerful line of storms we had Monday morning.  I feel like we will see lots of damage to taller crops and in areas where there were no windbreaks.  If plants suffered in the storm and have open wounds from sand, wind, or tying twine, then expect to see more disease.  It would be a great time to get out some fungicides and bactericides to prevent spreading of diseases.  As of Friday, our crops looked great.  I have been seeing LOTS of damage by our biggest pest in the Lowcounty…DEER.  Fencing is cheap compared to the amount of money you are losing to browsing damage. Check out this publication on fencing.

IMG_9514001.jpg

A deer browsed tomato (left) and un-browsed tomato (right).  Photo from Zack Snipes.

IMG_9511001

When browsing occurs, other competitors such as nutgrass take hold further impacting yield. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was nice last week and crops really responded. Brassicas and sweet corn are both growing really fast. Strawberry production really picked up last week too. Luckily, sales at produce stands have been really good lately. We had a really strong storm come through early Monday morning and we expect to see some water damaged strawberries as a result and probably some diseases like black rot on brassicas.  Strawberry growers, be sure to sanitize the plants well so damaged fruit won’t become inoculum for Botrytis and anthracnose.

20200409_141134.jpg

Workers at James Sease Farms in Gilbert grading strawberries fresh from the field. Strawberry season is in full swing. Support your local farmers!  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “The peach crop is coming along nicely. Some high chill hour requiring varieties are developing at an uneven rate but only time will tell if there will be a good crop on those. Strawberry production is picking up. A couple of cooler nighttime temperatures may have slowed progression a bit but harvests are still on the rise. Field crops like spinach, kale, and broccoli are performing well. Some cucurbits being planted as well as tomatoes as labor needs are filled.

Monilinia fructicola

Blossom blight caused by the fungi, Monilinia fructicola. Extended bloom and lots of rain during winter months made ideal conditions for infection. Refer to the 2020 Peach Management Guide for information on treating and preventing spread of brown rot. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Awful infestation of early season diamondback caterpillar on brassicas like collards/cabbage most likely due to the overwintering on brassicas like radish in cover crops.  When these crops are terminated for summer cropping these insects and other insects like yellow-margined beetle invade vegetable production fields.  Also, cover crops containing brassicas should not be used in vegetable production fields because they increase diseases like bacterial soft rot and sclerotinia, which are tremendous problems in all types of vegetable crops.

I hope all strawberry growers got their ripe fruit out of their fields before this storm – if not a lot of fruit will most likely be discarded.  Some rain was needed hope not too much falls – in S.C. when it rains it pours.  Most summer crops are planted and we did get some wind damage and sandblasting causing stunting but no frost damage in the Pee Dee.  The first plantings of processing tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are in and after this rain more will be quickly following.  Spring brassicas are loving this rain.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “It was confirmed that a tornado touched down in Seneca, SC early this morning around 3:30am. Reports of damage to agricultural operations have been limited, but there is certainly significant damage to business and residential structures. Apple and peach crops are looking good right now. We have many farmers market operations who will be replanting/reseeding after last night’s heavy rains.”

Andy Rollins reports, “We have been trapping high numbers of Oriental Fruit Moths in pheromone traps in peach orchards in upstate SC weekly.  Numbers have been much higher in our late season varieties.  We are assisting growers with correct timing of spray applications directed at egg hatch.  We are also encouraging growers to rotate insecticide classes to prevent failure of the pyrethroids if this hasn’t already occurred.  Dr. Brett Blaauw UGA/Clemson peach entomologist has been directing the effort aimed at reducing damage from this pest.”

IMG_1154

Oriental fruit moths captured on a sticky trap. 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.”

IMG_9377

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

20190425_125908

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.”

20200403_101012.jpg

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

20200403_092448.jpg

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.”

20200403_150722

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.”

tomato-plants-1

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

 

Field Update – 3/30/20

At this time, due to COVID-19, all in-person Clemson Extension meetings have been postponed through June 1st.  Keep an eye on the COVID-19 Resources page for updates.

The SCDA’s list of farms offering deliveries and pick-ups has grown significantly in the last week. View or contact LauraKate McAllister to be added to the list here.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “The weather has significantly warmed which has really helped our crops.  Strawberries are in peak production and growers are seeing record sales.  Other direct market growers are seeing higher sales numbers right now as well. Tomatoes are looking good with no issues.  Highbush blueberries are looking like they will have a decent crop and should be coming off soon.  I have seen some freeze damage on the earliest varieties of highbush that endured very cold temperatures.  Later season rabbiteye blueberries are in full bloom right now.”

IMG_9219

San Joaquin highbush blueberry with a good fruit load that should be ready soon. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The first half of last week was very wet, the second half was very warm.  Strawberries are growing well, but harvest volumes haven’t picked up yet.  Growers are easily selling everything they pick.  Keep scouting for spider mites.  After a very easy fall and winter, caterpillar populations are starting to climb in brassica crops.  Be sure to get out and scout for those.  Sweet corn is also up and growing.

20200327_140033.jpg

Diamondback moth caterpillar on the underside of a broccoli leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

20200323_141059.jpg

Sweet corn up and growing.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Fruit is developing nicely on peach trees with little to no signs of cold damage at this time. Vegetable transplants are going in now including squash, bell peppers, and eggplant. Strawberry harvest has begun. Spider mite populations are slightly high right now.

20200330_103909.jpg

Peaches are developing well. Photo from Sarah Scott.

20200330_110415.jpg

Newly transplanted squash plant. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean report, “It has just about turned into summer with temperatures (over the last few days) in the mid and upper 80s… and the crops have really responded. Muscadines have started leafing out across the region, with some early flower development occurring. Later blueberry varieties (like Tifblue, Onslow and Powderblue) are blooming heavily, while earlier varieties of blueberries have completed flowering, or getting near to completion. Strawberries are blooming and fruiting heavily, and there are some light volumes being picked now. Angular leaf spot is showing up on some strawberries. This is due to the wet conditions that we have been experienced, this year. Spider mites are still being found in strawberries. So, regular scouting is necessary.”

IMG_0821

A syrphid fly visiting a strawberry flower. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Growers are preparing land, bedding, and planting before this rain gets here. Most early sweetcorn is planted.  Sweet potato beds are sprouting – along with weeds- kill the weeds now. Fresh market tomatoes and pepper are being planted. I have seen a lot of ugly strawberries from cinch bugs, stinkbugs, thrips, boron deficiency, etc. Butterbeans are being rapidly planted. Processing tomato and pepper land has been treated with Vapam- always follow all label directions. Cabbage is beginning to cup. There is more demand than strawberry supply right now.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Growers are trying to stay ahead of the game with some social distance mowing. No freeze damage spotted so far on apples or peaches in the Long Creek/Mt. Rest area. Bloom is very erratic and varies from tree to tree. Picture is of Mike Ables, with Ables Orchard bush hogging and a granny smith in full bloom.”

Mowing Apples.JPG

Mike Ables of Albes Orchard bush hogging weeds.  Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Granny Smith Bloom

A syrphid fly visiting a Granny Smith bloom. Photo from Kerrie Roach

Field Update – 3/23/20

COVID-19 continues to be a major concern for produce farmers and consumers. We’ve put together a new tab labeled “COVID-19 Resources” which includes a number of resources from Clemson, SC Dept. of Agriculture, SC Farm Bureau, and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. Additions are being made regularly, so check back often.

Also, AgriSafe is offering a webinar this afternoon titled “What Ag Producers Need to Know About COVID-19.” If you are interested in participating, click here.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Amid the COVID-19 outbreak the weather has really helped out our crops here in the Lowcounty.  Strawberries are pushing out with great flavor and size after a break the past few weeks.  Tomatoes are still being planted and look great with the warm sunny weather we have had.  Winter and early spring crops are being harvested and look beautiful right now.  I have seen some brassica fields beginning to bolt with the longer days and warming weather so get them out of the fields soon. If you are having trouble selling produce consider contacting LauraKate McAllister to be put on the SC Dept of Ag “Find Local Farm Fresh Food During COVID-19” list.

Clemson Extension will be posting on social media and the Home Garden Information Center about this webpage so your farm will want to be highlighted there.  Clemson Extension is here to help everyone through this time so feel free to reach out to us.”

IMG_9107

Strawberries are coming along in the Lowcountry. Photo from Zack Snipes.

IMG_9137.jpg

Tomatoes are being planted and look good so far. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was beautiful last week and crops in the field are developing fast.  Some of our strawberry growers have begun picking. Once yields pick up a little, most are still planning to have U-pick, with some precautions. Early reports are that sales have been good despite concerns that coronavirus would hurt demand.  Spider mites have still been showing up, so keep scouting regularly.  The drier weather last week slowed disease down, but moisture is returning to the forecast this week, so don’t let up on spray programs.”

20200319_102454.jpg

Strawberry picking has begun in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Started planting Butterbeans and snap beans to beat the heat.  Also planting Squash and other cucurbits from seed.  There aren’t enough strawberries right now to meet the demand as everyone wants the first strawberries.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Upstate peaches are bursting with blooms and many apple varieties are starting to show silver and even green tip stages. We are excited about the season and are continuing to monitor temperatures. More rain again today.”

p

Peach blooms at Bryson’s Orchard in Long Creek, SC.  Photo from Reba Butts.

Field Update – 3/16/20

COVID-19 has become a concern for fruit and vegetable growers, especially those expecting to open U-Pick operations in the coming weeks.  It is unknown at this time how the virus, quarantines, and closures will affect produce sales.  Updates will be shared on the SC Grower each week in regards to this issue.  In the meantime, please take the necessary precautions to protect yourselves, your workers, and customers.

Coastal

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I received a couple samples of the aquatic weed Eurasian Watermilfoil this month from irrigation and other water-filled ditches. This invasive weed has been moving South and can block up waterways. Sonar herbicide is effective against this weed. Draining the ditches and allowing the weed to dry out can reduce the viability of this weed as well.”

Watermilfoil.png

Eurasian watermilfoil foliage. Photo from Dr. Matt Cutulle.

Zack Snipes reports, “Things are warming up and drying out in the Lowcountry.  Everyone is very busy preparing land and planting.  Tomato planting will continue this week.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was mostly warm and sunny and there’s been lots of pine pollen in the air.  Believe it or not, we have some places that are dry and are being irrigated.  We have some ripe strawberries around that are ready to pick and I have been pleasantly surprised with the taste so far.  It won’t be long before U-Pick operations are open.  The dry weather has allowed spider mite populations to pick up and lots of folks have put out miticides.  Be sure to scout regularly and stay on top of sanitation.”

20200313_134334.jpg

Sandy soils in the midlands have dried out and these young collards have started to wilt.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

20200313_134014.jpg

Strawberry harvest will begin soon in the midlands.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Most peach trees in the middle part of the state are well into bloom if not beyond. A break in the rain has given growers a chance to get into the field and spray for blossom blight as well as begin herbicide sprays in some orchards. There appears to be very little damage from previous cold nighttime temperatures but we will still have to wait to get the full scope until fruit development begins. Vegetable plastic has gone in later than usual due to muddy, wet field conditions. Spring brassicas are being planted and potatoes are still going in as well.

blossom20.jpg

Peach trees near full bloom.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Hurrying to get greens planted before the rain.  Most sweet potato beds are in.  Picking strawberries, but botrytis is bad because of all the rain and cloudy weather.  Some are looking to start planting butterbeans soon to get ahead of the summer heat.  Soil temperatures are good but, we never know about late frosts.  It looks like we have some thinning of flowers/fruit on peaches with the cold temperatures, however, right now we still have a good crop.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “We are starting to see some beautiful peach blooms here in the Upstate. The ‘Belle of Georgia’ blooms are at about 80% in Long Creek as of Thursday. Lots of honeybees were out doing their work.”

peach bee

Honeybee foraging peach blooms. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Field Update – 3/9/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Finally we have a break from the rain!  I lost count of how many inches of rain we had.  In fields with clean ditches and water furrows, water drained off pretty quickly, however, some fields suffered from all the rain.  If your fields are wet, try to stay out of them until they dry.  One of the worst things that can happen is when fields are entered when wet and soggy, causing compaction issues in the soil.  I am seeing lots and lots of disease in strawberry and blueberry.  The cold weather a few weeks ago killed many developing fruit and blossoms leaving them vulnerable to fungal infection. With over a week of consistent rain/cloudy weather and mild temperatures, the fungal pathogens have exploded.  If you can get into your fruit fields then both protectant and systemic fungicides should be applied.

IMG959025

Freeze damage on early blueberry varieties is a perfect place for fungal pathogens to attack. Photo from Zack Snipes.

IMG959029.jpg

It will be a while before this field can be worked again.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had lots of rain last week, but a very nice weekend and I saw the first bit of pollen on my windshield Saturday afternoon.  Despite the rain, spider mites are starting to build up in strawberries in several places, requiring treatment.  This is probably a result of having the row covers on for so long.  Conditions are still perfect for disease development and we are seeing lots of Botrytis as well as some anthracnose fruit rot.  More rain is coming this week, so be timely with fungicide applications and be sure to sanitize dead leaves, flowers, and fruit from the plants.  These become sources of inoculum as disease develops, so get that material out of the field.

20200303_135207

Two-spotted spider mites can appear red in the winter.  Leaving row covers on for long periods of time can create the perfect conditions for spider mites. Photo from Justin Ballew

20200303_135855.jpg

This strawberry has anthracnose spores (orange mass on the left) as well as Botrytis (grey mass) developing on it. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Fields are rapidly drying – hopefully, it doesn’t rain until later this week so we can finally get some greens planted. We have got some acres planted but there are thousands left to be planted.  Peaches are still up in the air.  Some varieties are totally lost but others are fine.  Growers are running wind machines and burning hay bales most nights to protect blooms from the cold.  Covering and watering to protect strawberries and some growers have been picking for weeks, though others want to wait until they have enough fruit to open. With all the rain, Botrytis is tough on strawberries. Some growers are spraying twice a week, while others are letting it go and will pick-off bad fruit with the good fruit and sell what they can.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Last week was the annual ‘Upstate Fruit Grower Meeting’ in Oconee County. Extension Agent, Kerrie Roach, along with Extension specialists from Clemson and NC State presented on topics to more than 30 attendees. Topics covered included apple diseases, PGRs, peach disease management, insect & disease ID, fungicide resistance, blackberry PGR research, the MyIPM app. along with much more. Lots of great networking and conversations were had over lunch and continued after the meeting. The Upstate is looking forward to a great growing season!”

am.png

Last week’s Upstate Fruit Grower Meeting was a success.  Photo from Cory Tanner.

Field Update – 3/2/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “The horticulture team got the opportunity to tour some really nice greenhouse/transplant providers last week.  One point I’d like to bring up is transplant quality.  Yes, quality transplants cost more upfront but healthy, quick-growing plants will help you recoup your investment.  I see lots and lots of subpar transplants going into fields that come from transplant providers with disease and insect issues from the start.  The plants will require more attention and cost more to fertilize and spray than healthy plants from the start.  We also got to see some grafted tomato and melon plants.  If you have been having trouble with a particular disease, cultivar, or area within your farm then grafted transplants may be an option for you.  I have seen several farms in the past few years switch to using grafted plants and they are loving the results.  Again they cost more but they are less likely to die with a full fruit load in late May.”

IMG_8926001.jpg

Grafted tomatoes with the appropriate rootstock can help battle diseases such as bacterial wilt and southern blight. Photo from Zack Snipes.

IMG_8936001.jpg

Mixed variety of very healthy and clean transplants ready to be picked up. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a little break in the rain over the weekend.  Hopefully, strawberry growers have taken advantage of that to sanitize the fields and get a fungicide application out.  Conditions have been perfect for Botrytis development (lots of moisture and temps in the 60’s) and we are seeing a ton of it.  The MyIPM app is a great resource for determining which fungicides to include in your rotation.  There are a few fruit out there that are ripening up, but they’re ugly and don’t taste great yet.  This will improve with time as long as pollination is good and we get some sunny days. Keep in mind it’s still very early in the season.  Start taking tissue samples now to make sure we get the fertigation right.”

20200224_135804(0).jpg

Botrytis growing on decaying tissue is plentiful right now.  It’s going to be a rough strawberry season if the rain doesn’t slow down.  Photo from Justin Ballew

20200224_135624.jpg

Misshaped fruit most likely caused by poor pollination.  Boron deficiency can cause this appearance also and would show up on a tissue sample.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Recent rains have caused a lot of erosion issues in orchards, especially those with trees planted on berms. With more heavy rain in this week’s forecast, farmers should focus on problem areas and consider erosion control methods such as coconut coir logs to help slow the movement of water through the orchard.  Peach trees are progressing quickly but it is still too early to make predictions about this year’s crop.”

20200302_090030

The recent rain has caused erosion issues in a number of orchards.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Farmers are hurrying to get greens/cabbage/collards planted before the rain this week.  Also, getting sweet potato beds in for transplant production.  Growers are fumigating fields for tomatoes, peppers, and other summer vegetables.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Last week several S.C. agents toured two different grafting/vegetable transplant production operations in WNC. Grafting can translate some great resistance/tolerance traits to otherwise susceptible varieties of tomatoes we commonly plant in small scale production. Check with your agent to see if grafted tomato plants might benefit your operation. Meanwhile, in the upstate, it didn’t rain for a few days and growers have finally been able to get into the field to prep and plant some early crops. Temperatures have been typical for this time of the year. Hang tight because more rain is forecasted for this week!

grafted tomatoes.jpg

Grafted tomatoes can be a good way to combat certain soil-borne diseases.  Be sure to get the correct resistance trait for the diseases you’re battling.  Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Field Update 2/24/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “As probably guessed the topic of the day is the 2 nights of sub 32F temperatures.  Most folks were able to cover their strawberries and hopefully, the row covers did their jobs.  I know in some places temperatures lower than 25F were seen.  The blueberry crop took the biggest blow.  Many of our rabbiteye types were ahead of schedule with the warm weather and were almost in full bloom or close to it when the cold nights came in.  I have seen several pictures from several farms that have a good bit of damage.  It is important to get fungicides out sometime this week as we have the perfect storm for a disease outbreak (warmer temperatures, wet weather, dead plant tissue, disease inoculum).  Recently planted brassicas are showing some damage but should grow out of it.  Only time will tell the extent of the cold damage.

IMG_8904

Strawberries are in their most vulnerable state when they are in full bloom as seen here. Photo from Zack Snipes.

IMG_8905

Small green fruit are a little more tolerant of cold temperatures although this fruit has some freeze damage and will decay if left on the plant.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had plenty of rain last week and two cold nights this weekend.  It got to 28 Saturday morning and 29 Sunday morning at my house.  Strawberries were all covered, so they were protected, but now we’re getting to where we need to get the row covers off to make a fungicide application.  The rain and the threat of near-freezing temperatures this week is holding us back from getting that done.  Bees won’t able to get to the flowers for pollination either until we get the row covers off.  As soon as we’re able, we need to remove dead flowers, leaves, and fruit from the plants also.

20200220_140412.jpg

Water pooling in a collard field during the rain Thursday (2/20).  Photo from Justin Ballew.

20200210_145204

Strawberries split open to show cold damage.  The strawberry on the bottom is healthy and the two on top have varying degrees of discoloration and necrosis.  If not removed from the field, these two damaged berries will become a source of botrytis inoculum. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Wet weather is still prevalent and temperatures have dipped below freezing a couple of nights this past week. Warm weather earlier in the month began to push peach trees into a bit of an early bloom so we are watching for cold injury now. It is still too early to tell if the weather will affect the crop.

IMG_20200224_100947

The left photo shows a brown pistil, most likely damaged by below freezing temperatures while the bloom in the right photo had a pistil that is still green and probably undamaged. Photo from Sarah Scott

20200224_092648.jpg

Workers use flail mowers to grind up smaller pieces of pruned limbs in row middles throughout peach orchards. Breaking down the material is helpful in nutrient recycling as well as speeding decomposition to reduce spore production from fungal pathogens.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Rain won’t stop for us to get greens/cabbage/collards planted.  Transplants are having to be held back as much as possible so they won’t get too leggy.  Some growers got their sweet potato beds planted in real sandy fields.  Most strawberry growers have started covering to save fruit.  Remember that covering encourages spider mites and fruit rots.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “After a couple weeks with cooler temperatures, chill hours for the Upstate fruits crops (apples & peaches) are looking good. The dry weekend was too good to be true as we are getting more rain today. The forecast calls for dry weather the rest of this week. Hopefully, we can start getting into fields for prep work and early plantings for market growers.

Field Update – 2/17/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Love is in the air, and your crabgrass (Digitaria spp.) PRE herbicides should be on the ground if you are in the Low Country.  When soil temperatures reach 55 F for 2 to 3 days, which will usually occur before March 1st in the Low Country, March 15th in the Midlands and March 30th for the upstate crabgrass germination is possible and can continue throughout the spring and summer. No matter how well crabgrass has been controlled in previous years, there is still a tremendous seed bank in the soil and open spots in crop canopy will allow this fast-growing summer annual to invade. Crabgrass’ rapid emergence and extremely fast growth rate make it a problematic weed in early spring to summer.  One study by NC State showed that for every week large crabgrass emergence was delayed an increase in 373 watermelon fruit was observed. This relatively small grassy weed can cause a big problem in early season cucurbit crop plantings.”

1780.jpg

Crabgrass seedlings. Photo from Virginia Tech

 

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “A wet week is coming to the Lowcountry.  Most farms are discing up land and pressing beds in preparation for the season.  I saw some potatoes going in last week on a farm or two.  If you have strawberries and have started spraying, then keep spraying.  Protectant fungicides applied before a weather event are the best measure at preventing disease.  The weather coming is perfect for gray mold and Anthracnose to develop.  If you have a smartphone download the MYIPM app (make sure to use WiFi) to key you in on diseases and preventative measures for small fruits.

IMG_8865.jpg

Land being prepped for spring vegetables. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “More rain on the horizon.  Lots of collards are bolting and fall brassicas, in general, are wrapping up.  Some spring brassicas have already been planted.  Black rot is showing up in some fields following the storms and warm weather, so if, you’re done with a field, get rid of it!  It never got cold enough Friday to kill strawberry blooms, but lots of growers had their row covers on just in case.  Growers are protecting blooms from now on. This will have us picking around mid-March.  Make sure to sanitize the fields as soon as it stops raining and it’s safe to pull off the row covers and start your fungicide programs and fertigation now.

20200210_142723.jpg

Black rot showing up in collards after the recent storms.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

20200214_141945.jpg

Workers busy putting row covers on strawberries.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McClean reports, “We have been on a bit of a roller coaster for the last couple of weeks… warm temps separated by brief periods of cool, windy conditions. The cool weather has not been that severe or persistent, and the warmer weather has been much more dominant. This has caused crops like blueberries and strawberries to really start to push. Heavy flowering in both crops is very evident now. With strawberries, we’re not too worried about losing early blooms… the plant will make more. But with blueberries, persistent early warm temps can ruin the upcoming season’s crop quickly. Some growers have asked about frost protecting this early. The challenge is “do you have enough water to protect until all risk of frost is gone”… likely not. The only thing worse than losing a crop because you didn’t frost protect is frost protecting all winter only to run out of water on the last night of freezing temps. Try to assess how much water supply you have and try to make decisions based on that. If you need help, please reach out to Clemson Extension for assistance.

Some chores to be doing now – finish up pruning your vineyards and orchards over the next week, or so. Look closely for dead wood in your vineyard, especially on the cordons. Now is the best time to identify it and remove it. Also, if you are planning to do some hardwood propagation on blueberries, now is the time to select one-year-old canes for cuttings. Be sure to keep them bagged (with moist peat moss or pine bark) and refrigerated until you are ready to sprig in the spring.

IMG_0730

Unhealthy muscadine condon that needs to be pruned out. Photo from Bruce McLean

IMG_0746

Hardwood blueberry cutting. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Farmers wish the rain would stop so they can get greens planted.  One way to keep plants from growing too tall in the greenhouse is blowing with a leaf blower every day it will harden them off and cause them to be shorter.  Time to bed sweet potatoes for slips if not to wet.  If you’ve started to save/protect strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc. (some already in full bloom) get ready for Friday night.