Weekly Field Update
Clemson Extension agents provide updates in The South Carolina Grower this week about the status of various crops being produced throughout the state.
Rob Last reports, “After a warm week in the Lowcountry, we received some welcomed showers. The rainfall will aid in cultivating and bed formation for spring crops. Beds should be firm, level and well-consolidated with a clearly defined shoulder. These factors will aid in fertigation operations and plastic laying. Remember that a well-constructed bed should display an indentation of 0.5 to 1 inch when a 150-pound person stands in the center of the bed. Last week’s warm weather has pushed crops on, with strawberries, blueberries and peaches coming into flower. Spider mites are being found, particularly in strawberries. Vigilant scouting and applications of mite-specific products will likely be necessary. Check out the myIPM App for a list of products with PHIs. Again, with strawberries, we see fruit set and development. Disease pressure currently is low, but we will see gray mold developing.”
Zack Snipes reports, “It is amazing how a week of warm, sunny weather can push crops. I feel like things have exploded in the past week. Strawberries are in full bloom, and some folks are gearing up to pick. One grower on the coast is already harvesting Camerosa berries. A shoutout to all the growers who let us sample for Neopestalotiopsis and Gnomonia leaf blotch in strawberry. The disease symptoms are not as prevalent as they were. The growers have done an excellent job of sanitation and using and rotating the correct fungicides. Other spring crops such as carrots, peas, greens, lettuces and root crops are coming off right now and look absolutely amazing. I have not heard of any issues in the fields but don’t let your guard down. I have seen some beautiful legume (clover, vetch) cover crops really flush out this week.”
Sarah Scott reports, “It’s pretty in pink around the Ridge. Peach trees are blooming, some are even leafing out. The warm temperatures are really moving things along. Growers are putting out bloom sprays as a preventative measure for blossom blight, which can lead to issues with brown rot later in the season. Fertilizer is also being put out. Pruning and grinding limbs is also wrapping up. With these warm temperatures, we will be keeping a close eye on pests in other crops like strawberries and brassicas.”
Bruce McLean reports, “Well, spring is upon us. No… not so fast. It’s still February. Even though the 7 to 10 day forecast is free and clear of any freezing temps, the next 4 to 5 weeks can bring cold weather without much warning. Strong cold fronts followed by an artic blast can wreak havoc for early planted crops and early flowering perennial fruit crops. If you’re thinking about getting an early jump on your spring vegetable planting, realize that you could be taking a big gamble. In many situations, early planting doesn’t necessarily mean an early harvest. If you are a blueberry or peach grower, be prepared for a few sleepless nights in your future. On tree fruit, little can be realistically done besides utilization of wind machines and burning hay bales to protect against a freeze. With blueberries, overhead freeze protection (irrigation) works very well for protecting both blooms and fruit. But those methods are really only designed to work during radiation all freezes (freezing temps with calm winds) and not advective freezes (freezing temps with blowing winds). February warm spells leading into a March freeze seems to be a recurring theme over the last few years. Keep your fingers crossed… it could be one of those years that we get lucky.”
Andy Rollins reports, “I have been working with three new blueberry farms being established. Preparing the soil properly and adding organic matter to the beds is critical for success. Also, getting good clean plants and proper planting technique is needed. Elsewhere, everything is progressing rapidly. Bloom of some peach varieties is more than 2 1/2 weeks earlier than last year. Some are putting out bloom sprays this week. Bravo/chlorothalonil is the fungicide of choice in bloom. Although peaches are primarily wind pollinated, we don’t want to use insecticides during the bloom period. This can and will hurt bee populations. We have begun fertilizing strawberries at the lower 0.5 lbs of nitrogen/acre/day rate. We will increase that to the one-pound rate when we have four or more green berries per plant.”