Rob Last reports, “Pest and disease issues in the area remain very low; however, as temperatures rise, we expect activity to increase. Although it is quiet, it is still essential to continue to scout. Assessment of crops indicates that we have escaped the worst of any chill injury or loss of plants. Pruning of fruit crops continues while dormancy holds and labor begins to return to the area.”
Justin Ballew reports, “We had another cool week last week, and some places on the eastern side of Columbia saw a little bit more snow. Strawberries are progressing, and most fields now have 3 to 4 crowns. Some growers have been working on sanitizing cold-damaged blooms and fruit from the plants, and their fields are looking good. For those that haven’t started sanitizing yet, don’t forget to do this prior to growth taking off in the spring, or having all those dead blooms and fruit present will make disease management more difficult. Deer feeding damage seems to have picked up in the last couple of weeks. Fencing can still be helpful at this point in the season. The number of plants saved will quickly make up for the cost of the fence. Take a look at this publication for fencing plans and costs.
Sarah Scott reports, “Peach pruning and tree planting is still going on here in the Ridge. This week a grower spotted some white peach scale on a single branch in his orchard. White peach scale usually isn’t widespread and isolates to one or just a couple of trees. It has been spotted more this winter than in the past, so growers should be on the lookout. Regular dormant oil applications should take care of the population or spot treat.”
Bruce McLean reports, “Winter is upon us, and it’s finally good pruning weather. Perennial fruit crops are (ideally) pruned from peak cold winter (usually starting in January) until early March. Pruning too early can stimulate vegetative growth should a warm spell occur. That tender, new growth is subject to cold injury, which can become an open pathway for a disease to come in and infect the plant. Occasionally, this type of injury/infection can lead to substantial damage (and even death) to the plant. Pruning during or just after peak dormancy reduces the potential for this to occur.
Now is also a good time to be collecting hardwood cuttings if you are propagating blueberries. Bundling the cutting and placing the base cuts in moist peat moss (inside of a bag or container) and keeping them refrigerated until spring (when they can be sprigged into a propagation bed) is the best way to store them. As for what is in the field… strawberries are looking pretty good (for the most part). Seeing a little bit of leaf spot, but no spider mites. Be sure to remove those damaged flowers and fruit to hold off botrytis development. Some of the more cold-sensitive brassica crops took a bit of a hit (cold injury) from the recent cold nights. Collards, kale, Brussels sprouts are still looking good.”