Zack Snipes reports, “It is hot and very, very dry in the Lowcountry. We desperately need some rain on the coast. Many irrigation ponds are at very low levels and may only have a week or so of water left. Peppers and other crops are wilting during the day, leaving fruit exposed which is causing lots of sunburn and sunscald. Other than it being very dry, our crops look amazing. The tomato and pepper crops are absolutely loaded right now. The markets, however, aren’t very good and lots of produce is being left in the fields. The heat and constant harvest of many crops have allowed spider mite populations to explode. We need to get on top of these to squeak out as much yield as possible and lower on-farm populations so that the fall crop doesn’t get inundated with them.
Justin Ballew reports, “From the looks of things now, you’d never know we got several inches of rain recently. It’s just as dry as it was before, though; luckily, there is a decent chance of rain every day this week. Since everything dried out pretty quickly, we didn’t see disease pick up last week like I thought it would. Most crops are growing pretty well. There are still some insect issues here and there, but nothing too bad. I’m seeing lots of water-related problems right now. When the weather is as hot and dry as it’s been, be sure to frequently check the moisture in the soil and under the plastic to make sure it’s not getting too dry between watering. If more water is needed, adding another irrigation cycle is often better than extending the run time of each cycle. Our sandy soil can only hang on to so much moisture at one time.”
Phillip Carnley reports, “In Orangeburg and Calhoun, cucumbers are still being harvested with good quality and quantity. Over the last week, I have seen several cucumber plantings experiencing downy mildew and squash with powdery mildew. With the lack of rain in the area, the downy mildew has been spotty and fairly well isolated, but with any moisture, it will assuredly spread. Make sure you are treating preventatively and staying observant under center pivot irrigation. Cross-stripped cabbageworm is making a name for itself in greens around Orangeburg, where its numbers have exploded practically overnight. Diamondback moth caterpillars are also present in large numbers. An early systemic insecticide followed by scouting and a follow-up of a BT-based product will help curtail the population and mitigate damage. Due to the hot, dry weather, there has also been an increase of Athelia rolfsii observed in tomatoes. All infected material should be removed from the field, and any chemical treatment is suppressive only.”
Sarah Scott reports, “A recent UGA blog post from Dr. Brett Blaauw indicates the possibility of a second peak of scale crawlers in the next two weeks. Keep an eye out in orchards and monitor with electrical tape/double-sided tape for the crawlers. Populations have been quiet, but we may see some activity soon. The hot and dry weather has also brought spider mites out in full force. Rain will help tame the populations, but keep in mind a heavy infestation could cause defoliation and stress to the tree. Harvest continues, and we are finally picking come freestone varieties.”