Clemson Extension agents provide updates in The South Carolina Grower this week about the status of various crops being produced throughout the state.
Zack Snipes reports, “The recent rains have yet again made fields sloppy and hard to harvest. Most of our tomato crop is about finished as are zucchini and cukes. We have had an unusually high amount of southern stem blight in tomatoes this year. We are seeing some increased worm pressure (armyworms and fruitworms) in fields that are still producing. We have planted some acreage of fall watermelon and are getting other fields ready for the fall season. Many growers are painting black plastic white to reduce the heat held in the beds. If re-using spring drip tape and plastic, it is a good idea to flush irrigation lines and pulse irrigate beds with a liquid phosphorous product before planting your fall crop.”
Justin Ballew reports, “We got more rain almost every evening last week. With the exception of a few low spots, most fields are still in workable conditions. This is one occasion when having sandy soil is a blessing. We’re entering an in-between stage where lots of spring-planted crops are finishing up and fields are being prepped for planting fall crops. Diseases have picked up some recently, though growers are doing a pretty good job of managing them. I’ve also seen an increase in false chinch bug populations recently. In most cases, they don’t cause a whole lot of direct feeding damage, but at high populations, the bugs themselves can become contaminates in harvested greens. Hopefully, they won’t stick around long.”
Sarah Scott reports, “We wanted rain and have gotten plenty! Significant rain events following a hot and dry period have brought up some issues in the peach field. Brown rot has been hit or miss this year, but in some areas, it is pretty bad with wet weather contributing to some spread. The “cooler” temperatures in the coming days along with wet weather will likely cause an explosion of the disease in orchards if not treated properly. Bronzing is another issue that we have started to see following rain events. Although it is unclear exactly what causes the skin discoloration, rain events following periods of dry weather do seem to increase the bronzing, especially on peaches that have darker skin and are closer to harvest. Spider mite populations have slowed down thanks to the rain, but they were pretty bad in recent weeks, and some trees have significant leaf drop from heavy infestation. Scale crawlers are being seen in the orchards as well. According to our entomologist, Brett Blaauw, Georgia has not seen a significant peak in crawler populations. We are hoping we too will not see a heavy increase in South Carolina. Monitoring for scale crawlers can be done by putting some black tape, sticky side out or covered with double-sided tape, on branches of peach trees in orchards known to have scale issues. The rain has made this a bit challenging, but I have still been able to find crawlers when checking “traps” prior to rain events.”
Andy Rollins reports, “Vegetable production is in full swing, picking tomato, pepper, cucumber, squash, zucchini, sweet corn and others. We have some minor problems with various caterpillar pests, some tomato wilt virus and plenty of spider mites. We’re harvesting heirloom tomato varieties from retired tomato breeder Randy Gardner on three farms. Mountain Girl is doing better than others. We are having some blossom end rot everywhere, but it was only on a few of the first fruit before clearing up. The peach crop has improved quite a bit on some farms but not others. We are seeing excellent eating quality on Scarlet Prince, June Prince, and July Flame. We are picking a few Contender, Red Globe and also July Prince. We are concerned about heavy rains causing cracking on all crops.”