Field Update – 2/3/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Thanks to everyone that made it out to the Preplant Meeting in Charleston last week.  We had standing room only for the program.  We received a good number of questions on the single-use plastic ban in Charleston County.  I have attached a picture that should explain most things.  To recap: strawberry buckets, plastic clamshell containers, and plastic green produce bags are allowed.  The “thank you” bags or carry out bags you receive at most, if not all, retail stores are no longer allowed in Charleston County.  Some folks have ordered cloth reusable bags with their farm logo on them and are selling them.  Dillion Way with AgSouth in Summerville has boxes of cloth reusable bags that he can make available to farmers during this transition period.”

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Info on Charleston’s new single-use plastic ban. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had more rain late last week and the weather has warmed up a bit since.  Growers are picking what’s left of the mustard and turnip greens after the cold.  Any that weren’t covered are gone.  Strawberries look good considering they are still a little behind where we are used to seeing them at this time of year.  The spider mites have slowed down for now, probably thanks to all the rain.  Not as many blooms were killed by the cold in some fields as we expected, but there is plenty of damage out there.  Just be sure to remove any dead buds and fruit when plant growth takes off in the spring.  Winter weeds are likely to take off this week while it’s a little warmer, so if you have labor available, it would be a good idea to pull as many weeds as you can from the plant holes.”

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Young strawberry fruit cut in half so show the cold damaged tissue (browning). Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Winter weeds in the plant holes will see good growing conditions this week.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach trees are being planted and cover crops are being seeded in the row middles. Pruning continues on established peach trees. Copper sprays before the next rain event could lessen the spread of inoculum from disease present in the orchard.”

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Peach trees being planted on berms in Edgefield County. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Second cut processing collard and third cut turnip harvest is finishing up.  Land prep is in full swing for spring greens where land is dry enough.  Cold temperatures have set strawberries back to ground-zero in flowering and fruiting which may keep down misshapen fruit at first harvest.”

Upstate

Mark Arena reports, “Recent unseasonably warm and wet days catch Christmas tree growers off guard as needle blight diseases infect trees. The two most common are Needle Blight and Needle Cast. Watching the weather conditions, scouting the trees weekly, and applying appropriate fungicides is the best practice for control.”

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Damage caused by needle blight. Photo from Mark Arena.

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Needle blight damage. Photo from Mark Arena.

 

Field Update – 1/27/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “As the weather dipped last week I had lots of calls about covering strawberries.  Some growers thought they had enough plant and blooms that they should cover while others left them exposed to the cold.  On most farms, the frost damage was very minimal with only blooms facing upwards having damage.  Whether you covered or not, it is imperative that you sanitize your plants by removing dead fruit, blossoms, and leaf tissue.  Start clean this year.  Now would be a great time to get an application of boron in.  Boron is used in fruit and flower development.  Many times gnarled fruit can be attributed to boron deficiency.  1/8 of an actual pound of boron is recommended and can be applied via drip or spray.  Be careful to mix correctly as boron is an excellent herbicide if rates are too high.  Don’t forget about the Preplant Growers Meeting at the USDA in Charleston at 8:30-lunch on Wednesday.”

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Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The first part of last week was cold. There were a lot of blooms and small green fruit on the strawberries that were damaged, but it was too early to be saving those anyway.  Just make sure to remove the dead fruit and blooms by the time we start saving blooms in the spring.  Brassicas made it through the cold with little damage, but Sclerotinia white mold continues to progress in some fields.”

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Strawberry blooms turning brown from cold damage. Photo from Justin Ballew

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Sclerotinia white mold infection on a collard stem. Photo from Justin Ballew

 

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still harvesting cabbage, kale, collards, and other greens at this time. Wet weather is causing some rot issues in fields especially in low spots with heavy soils. Peach trees are being planted. The Ridge area has not accumulated enough chill hours at this time for higher chill varieties but the extended forecast looks promising for that to happen. Weeds are popping up in strawberry fields from the warmer temperatures. Henbit growing in the holes with strawberry plants needs to be hand pulled as there is not an effective herbicide to use that will not cause injury to the strawberries.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Spider mite populations in strawberries have been steady in our area. This cold weather has put them behind, but they will recover. Remember to start spraying your protective fungicides on strawberries as soon as possible. Processing greens are doing great with some bacterial spots here and there. Fresh market collards are presenting cold damage across the county. Sclerotinia is still prevalent in many brassica crops such as cauliflower and cabbage. Please refer to the vegetable handbook for proper fungicide recommendations.”

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Cold damage on collard foliage. Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cold temps set flowering/fruiting of strawberries back to ground zero.  Growers got some land for greens bedded.”

Field Update – 1/13/20

Spring fruit and vegetable meetings are being announced daily, so keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” tab over the next several weeks.

Coastal Region

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I have been seeing a lot of Henbit in the coastal area this year (A big chunk of it in Dr. Brian Ward’s research fields). Don’t be deceived by the pretty flowers. We don’t really have any options for selectively controlling the weed POST in most vegetable crops. Mowing before viable seed head formation is a good way to reduce the weed seed bank deposit of this problematic winter annual. More description of the weed can be found at (https://www.clemson.edu/cafls/research/weeds/weed-id-bio/broadleaf-weeds-parent/broadleaf-pages/henbit.html)”

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Henbit flowers. Photo from Dr. Matt Cutulle.

Dr. Tony Keinath reports,”White mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) is active in the Charleston area. The two nights of freezing temperatures December 18-19 likely stimulated sclerotia to germinate and produce ascospores. Warm, overcast weather with mist and light rain is ideal for spread and germination of the airborne ascospores. Weather conditions likely will remain favorable for white mold over the next 3 months. Growers will need to rotate conventional white mold fungicides due to limits on the number of applications that can be made per crop.

For organic crops, Sonata at 8 pints per acre may offer some protection. See pages 185 and 222 in the 2020 Vegetable Crop Handbook for Southeastern United States.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Warm and muggy is the only way to describe the past week.  I was out in a blueberry patch and noticed some low chill hour varieties already blooming.  We have gotten very few chill hours to date in Charleston.  Chill hours are the number of hours below 45F and are required for proper fruiting of perennial fruits.  For a  normal year in Charleston we should get anywhere from 400-600 chill hours.  I have also seen strawberries pushing out some blooms.  Growers should not worry as that is normal for this time of year.  I think it is still too early to starting pushing strawberries for fruiting.  Remember that it takes 35 or so days to go from bloom to picking a strawberry.  It we let our plants grow and develop more crowns right now (rather than fruit), then we will have greater production this spring.”

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Low chill hour blueberries are already showing some blooms. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Strawberries starting to push out a few blooms. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It was unseasonably warm this past week and we had a couple significant rain events over the weekend. I’ve seen a few daffodils and forsynthia blooming already.  Strawberries are growing a little faster right now and that’s good new for fields that are a little behind.  The weather conditions we have right now are very conducive to Phytophthora development, so now would be a good time for a Ridomil application through the drip, especially in fields with a history of Phytophthora. Winter weeds are really exploding now.  Make sure to pull any weeds coming up in the plant holes so they aren’t competing with the strawberries. We’re still harvesting brassicas and they look good other than a little Sclerotinia here and there.”

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A likely Pytophthora infection in a strawberry crown.  The tip of the crown near the roots has turned reddish/brown. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Cabbage in the midlands is looking nice. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Wet and overly warm temperatures have set in along the Ridge over the past week. 2.5 inches of rain have fallen but with soil already wet it is making for difficult working conditions. Fields are still being prepped for peach tree planting and pruning should begin this week. With temperatures reaching into the 70s there is a concern that higher chill varieties of peaches may not get adequate chilling requirements to produce optimum yields but we will have to wait and see what the weather continues to do. Cabbage, collards, and kale are still being harvested along with a few other late winter crops. Strawberries are putting on a lot of growth with the warm temperatures. Some spider mites in the field but very minimal observations.”

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Strawberries are growing fast in this warm weather. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Spider mite populations are begging to increase in our area. Most brassica producers are selling out. Remember to disk in remaining plant material as soon as possible, this reduces the chance of disease in your following crop year. Sclerotinia white mold has been very prevalent in our area.  Remember to rotate for a minimum of three years if disease emerges. Weather has not allowed for spring bedding to begin.”

Pee Dee Region

Tony Melton reports, “Last week, folks hurried before rain to get land bedded for greens to be planted the first of February.  This will allow weeds to emerge so they can be killed before planting in stale-bed-culture.  Strawberries are loving this warm weather.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “We have some growers who are finished pruning apples and peaches, some who have just started, and others who haven’t touched their orchards yet. We will see who fairs the best… I have concerns with what I would consider to be early pruning, combined with continued warm temperatures creating a perfect storm for when cold temperatures finally arrive. Heavy rains have plagued the area, with more than 13 inches recorded at the Oconee airport in January thus far.”

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Apple trees after pruning. Photo from Kerrie Roach.