Clemson Extension Agents Provide Crop Updates

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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.

Clemson Extension


Justin Ballew reports, “Well, we knew a “late” cold spell was likely to happen at some point. Growers will need to take some steps to prepare for the cold over the next few days. The Upstate is forecast to get the worst of it, with multiple nights at or below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The Coast looks like it may escape damaging cold/frost, while the Midlands is teetering on the edge. Anyone growing strawberries or that has spring veggies already planted should plan to cover if the forecast in your area shows temps any lower than about 40; 40 is probably a little conservative, but as far ahead as some crops are right now, I’d rather play it safe. For folks growing other fruit crops, take a look at this post from last March for some information on what we can expect based on the growth stages of your crops. If you experience damage, make sure you take lots of photos to help in assessing loss.”

Coastal Region

Rob Last reports, “After another warm week with welcome rainfall, crops continue to develop well. For all fruit crop growers, plans should be in place to protect crops from the forecasted temperature drop on Tuesday night. Crops coming to market include strawberries (low volumes currently) and asparagus. Pest and disease issues remain low. However, vigilance will be required to prevent gray mold in strawberry crops. Multisite fungicides, such as Captan, will help to prevent the build-up of resistance. Spider mites in the area are conspicuous by their absence. However, I would expect the population to increase. Very early watermelons with plastic covers are planted in the area to protect them from cold and promote growth and development.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Well, it is again wet in the Lowcountry. The big takeaways from last week are SPIDER MITES and fertility. Every strawberry field that I was in had spider mites…and not just a few. Spider mites are small, and you cannot scout them from your truck. You must get out and sample leaves and look for them with a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass. If you see off-color plants, stippling of the leaves, or webbing, you have an infestation that is significantly reducing yield and have missed the application window by a week or more. Scout, scout, scout, and react. Another issue I am seeing is poor fertility of berries. Make sure to tissue sample and adjust your fertility program as needed. We have a drip fertigation calculator, so you don’t guess how much fertilizer you use. The plants are pushing hard and need the proper amount of nutrients. In our sandy soils in the Lowcountry, our fertigation and watering cycles should never be longer than 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, the beds are saturated, and the fertilizer goes straight down and out of the root zone. Farmers across the world will have super healthy crops from all the fertilizer you are pushing down to them.”


Phillip Carnley reports, “Temperatures here are dipping, which we are keeping an eye on. Strawberries are looking good, and harvest has begun. Botrytis is still present and being managed. Early blueberries are looking great. Blackberries are blooming well and growing vigorously.”

Sarah Scott reports, “Temperatures around the Ridge have been fluctuating greatly. A week ago, we were wearing shorts, and now we’re breaking out the winter coats again. Peaches have been progressing quickly, and most trees are somewhere between shuck split and shuck off. Growers have begun cover sprays and are approaching orchard floor management sprays in the coming week. Below-freezing temperatures are predicted for this week, and we will be anxiously watching the weather stations around the area for the next few days. We are in a vulnerable place right now with the crop being a couple weeks ahead of schedule. Strawberries have been covered ahead of the cold weather.”

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Another year where the blueberry crop is way out there in bloom and fruit and frosty nights are in the forecast. The funny thing is that this cold spell is not late for us. This is a seasonal frost/freeze event that we often get in March. Our blueberries are so far along due to the unseasonal warmth that we had in February. So, can they be protected? The low for much of the state is forecast to be around 30F on Wednesday and Thursday morning (upper 20s in the Upstate and mid/upper 30s for the Low Country). Wind will be stirring on Wednesday morning (around 7 mph) and will be still on Thursday morning. Currently, both nights/mornings look to be good for overhead frost protection. Even with the wind on Wednesday morning, there should be minimal problems. The extended forecast is showing a prolonged cool spell for the next couple of weeks, but the only significant risk of freezing temperatures is for Wednesday and Thursday morning (for most of the state). The Upstate might see another shot of freezing temperatures on Monday morning. The Pee Dee soil moisture has greatly improved with the recent rains. Most growers are getting geared up for the upcoming season. Strawberry growers have their berries covered. Everyone is ready for spring.


Andy Rollins reports, “Most peach trees range from full bloom to early shuck split stage in the Upstate. Work has been done to reduce some of the crop early to save on later thinning costs. Accede is a thinning product being tested. The goal is to thin only 30% of the blooms with this product. Early indications are showing success, although some varieties have been more difficult. Growers applied their last bloom fungicide sprays last week. Many are using Bravo(chlorothalonil), as it has very long residual activity. Growers are apprehensive concerning upcoming cold weather. Many strawberry growers covered their crop late last week to avoid having to move wet row covers from rain that came Saturday and Sunday. Strawberry growers need to stay vigilant with protective fungicide sprays like Captan or Thiram. Growers also need to be on look-out for mites, as they have been found on some farms.