Clemson Extension Agents Provide Crop Updates

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Clemson Extension agents provide updates in the The South Carolina Grower this week about the status of various crops being produced throughout the state.

Weekly Field Update

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Another rainy, wet and cold week last week. Some sunshine and warmer temperatures coming this week. All of our fruit crops have received their chill hours and are just waiting to burst out for spring. I expect to really see fruit crops take off this week. Make sure that you have a fertility plan for the spring crop. Don’t let your crop be without fertility at the critical moments. For more information on fruit fertility, visit https://smallfruits.org/ipm-production-guides/. For smaller farms, Clemson’s Home Garden and Information Center is a wonderful resource as well.”

Early varieties of highbush blueberries are in bloom right now. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “To say last week was wet would be an understatement. We received about 4 inches of rain at my house last week, and the ground was already saturated before it started. I’ve seen water standing even in sandy fields. On the bright side, irrigation ponds are looking full. Most strawberry growers have covered their fields to protect the blooms now. This means we should start seeing our first ripe fruit around mid-March. Don’t forget to start tissue sampling so we can make sure the plants are getting everything they need as they are beginning to produce fruit.”

Row covers on a strawberry field protect the blooms from late winter/early spring cold. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Wet, wet, wet… Last week’s rain has caused some significant ponding and flooding throughout the Pee Dee. Last week, I had a number of conversations with growers concerning application of fumigants for early crops – timing, too wet, how effective? Not a lot of good options with soil moisture being so high, right now. We really need some sunshine and a steady breeze to help dry fields out. Wet fields are preventing spraying, hindering application of row covers and hindering pruning of perennial crops (blueberries, muscadines, and blackberries). Some crops are starting to “back up” due to the wet soils. An application of mefenoxam (Ridomil) or phosphorous acid (K-phite), in locations where root rot is suspected, would be beneficial.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “A beautiful weekend of weather was much needed for fruit tree growers getting in orchards and finishing up dormant pruning for the year. Pruning out dead, diseased, and damaged limbs, opening the canopy, and reducing overall vegetative growth is extremely important for tree fruit integrated pest management (IPM). Pruning increases light penetration and air movement, reducing disease potential, and also allows for better spray coverage during application. More rain today and even more projected toward the end of the week will continue to delay any kind of field work, as the ground is oversaturated. Don’t forget, this Thursday is the SC Apple Grower Meeting via Zoom from 2 p.m.- 4 p.m.! Check it out on the upcoming events page!

Andy Rollins reports, “Found major scale problem on large scale muscadine producer’s farm. Scale was identified on the main scaffolds and also on last year’s wood. Mineral oil (Damoil) is labeled but is recommended at much lower rate than other fruits. Only 1% by volume or 1 gallon per 100 gallons of water, but needs 200 gallons of total solution applied per acre to get sufficient coverage. This is because the oil needs to get into very tight areas where the scale can reside. We also recommended the use of a labeled insecticide with the oil to increase efficacy. Once the plants come out of dormancy, other products are available but determination will be made at that time if necessary. Peach and strawberry production had no major issues to address. One strawberry farm began picking the last week of January this year in high tunnel production and picked 30 flats of fruit and is still producing.

Scale on the main scaffolds of muscadines. Photo from Andy Rollins.