Question of the Week: Virus

Last week the question was:  What is wrong with this pumpkin plant?


These are symptoms of a virus.  It could be either papaya ringspot virus, watermelon mosaic virus, or zucchini yellow mosaic virus.  It’s difficult to distinguish the three without doing a diagnostic assay.  All three are vectored by aphids and can cause yield loss and marketability issues.  The best way to control viruses is by using resistant plant varieties when available.


Here is this week’s question:  What three animals left tracks on this washed out road?


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Hurricane Matthew Aftermath

Hurricane Matthew is gone and the sun is out, but the smoke is yet to clear.  Parts of Horry, Marion, and Dillon counties are still flooded and power is still out in spots all over the Pee Dee.  The town of Nichols in Marion County is currently (10/12) under water and the Lumber and Little Pee Dee Rivers are expected to crest within the next 24 hours.  Lumberton, NC is under water as well.  Lets hope the water recedes quickly.


A fallen tree in Marion took down a power line and contributed to widespread power outages.

The damage to homes and infrastructure has been severe, however, it’s surprising how well most of the crops are holding up.  With the exception of some flooded fields, cotton and soybeans are mostly going to be fine.  Some cotton was blown/knocked out of the bolls, but not as much as expected.  The field from the photo below still looked great.


Cotton blown out of the bolls during the hurricane.

Fields that were defoliated before the storm had less plant material for the wind to blow around, therefore the plants seem to be standing a little straighter than some fields that still had all their leaves.  Here is another field below that weathered the storm well and looks great.


Lots of peanuts were dug before the storm.  The photo below shows a field where the winds blew some peanuts off the vines.  For peanuts still in the ground we could face a challenge in digging them on time.  It will depend on being able to get to and get in the fields.


Peanuts blown off the vines in a field dug before the storm.  Photo from William Hardee.

Once power is restored to everyone, the biggest challenge over the next several days, and maybe the next couple weeks, will be accessing the fields.  There are a lot of roads closed because of fallen trees and power lines, flooded roads, and washed out roads and bridges.  Just getting large equipment to some of these fields may require lengthy detours.  Driving around this week has been a challenge.


A washed out road in Marion County.

Just like with the flood last year, Clemson Extension will compile data of the agricultural damages suffered by SC farmers for the purpose of aid relief.   If you experienced any crop, animal, or equipment losses, you may fill out the Animal and Agriculture Damage Assessment Form (ESF-17) once you are safely able to get out and make an assessment.  Once finished, it may be emailed to  For those who do not have email access, come to the county Extension office to fill out the form and we will email it.

Take a look at Clemson’s Hurricane resource webpage for more information.  Remember, it’s always a good idea to take lots of pictures for insurance purposes.


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Soybean Rust Update – 10/7/16

FROM:  John Mueller, Extension Soybean Pathologist, Edisto Research and Education Center

 Both Joe Varn and I (he was first) have found soybean rust in Barnwell County in the last few days.


 Counties that have been surveyed but no rust found now include: Allendale, Anderson, Calhoun, Clarendon, Dillon, Darlington, Dorchester, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Lee, Marion, Newberry, Richland, Saluda and Sumter Counties. 

 Here are the survey results from the last week:

Justin Ballew, Horticulture and Agronomy Agent for Dillon and Marlboro Counties collected leaves from 3 fields in Dillon County on September 27th.   He looked at a total of 150 leaves from the 3 fields but could find no rust.

 Jonathan Croft, Orangeburg County Agronomic Row Crop Agent collected 80 leaves from a field of R-6 soybeans in Dorchester County on September 27 but could find no rust.

Joe Varn, Bamberg/Barnwell Agronomic Agent found rust in 4 of 65 leaves collected on October 3rd from a field located on Highway 278 just  southeast of Barnwell.  He also found rust in 3 of 45 leaves collected October 3rd from a field on Highway 3 approximately 5 miles north of Blackville.  In both fields only a few pustules were present on each leaf.  On the same day he collected leaves from a field on 278 west of Barnwell but found no rust.

With the help of my technician, Bill Bonnette, we collected leaves on October 5th from a fungicide trial on the Edisto REC.  The field was in late R-5 growth stage.  We examined 25 leaves from each plot.  Rust was found on leaves from 3 of the 4 non-sprayed plots.  Two of the plots had rust on 1/25 leaves and the third plot had rust on 4/25 leaves.  Rust was very low, just one pustule per leaf on all but 1 of the leaves.  On that leaf there was a colony of rust about 1/5 the size of a dime.  In the 8 fungicide treated plots rust was found on leaves in 2 of the plots.  In both of those plots only 1 leaf out of 25 had rust present.  Again it was only 1 or 2 pustules per leaf.  This means that 198 of 200 leaves were clean.

So, a very low level of rust is scattered throughout some of our fields in the Savannah Valley.  Probably the only field we have found that had rust at levels that could cause a yield loss was the original find in Colleton County.  In the fields we just found in Barnwell County it will be 2 to 3 weeks before rust will build to levels that could cause some yield loss.  By that time these fields will be rapidly approaching defoliation, especially if we get cooler weather after Hurricane Matthew.

Although our sampling has been somewhat limited, we have no evidence to suggest rust is present north of the Santee/Cooper area or in the Anderson area.

Most of our soybeans are too far along to spray with a fungicide but it seems that once again this year we have avoided significant damage from Soybean Rust.

If you would like an update on the occurrence of soybean rust across the United States check out .

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Preparing for Hurricane Matthew

This time a year ago we were surveying damage from a flood.  Now we have the threat of a hurricane bearing down on us.  We are predicted to get several inches of rain Friday and Saturday.  The Weather Underground App that I use is calling for 8 inches in Florence and 14 in Conway.  Currently tracking models aren’t predicting SC to take a direct hit, but Matthew will come close enough to cause some potential damage.


Current predicted path of Hurricane Matthew as of 11am 10/6/16.

For anyone growing produce, remember that any if any fields flood, that produce can not be harvested.  This is a huge food safety risk.  Therefore, harvest everything that is ready and you have room for in your coolers before the storm comes.  For strawberry growers, wait to punch holes in your plastic until after the storm.


Wait until after the storm to punch holes in your strawberry plastic.

For peanut growers, here are a few comments from Clemson Peanut Specialist Dan Anco:  “When thinking if we should dig or not before the storm, we can consider a couple points. One of the big factors will be how mature our peanuts are now, and how spread out or tight that maturity profile is. If peanuts are ready to dig now for optimal or close to optimal maturity, it may be better to dig them before the storm if possible. The longer mature pods stay in the ground, the greater their risk of becoming over mature and then falling off. Even with this in mind, if the ground is really dry and hard now, that doesn’t make digging the easiest thing in the world right now. Peanuts can still be at risk of falling off on top of the ground if they sit there too long, but the increased risk of mature and ready peanuts staying in the ground during the storm in part comes from the delay of being able to get into the field and the soil being too moist for digging depending on how much rain we get. In other words, if the peanuts are ready now, waiting until after the storm to dig will add to the total time we need to wait until we can combine them and get them out of the field. Waiting until after the storm to dig peanuts may be a better option for peanuts that can use or tolerate the extra maturity time, but going along with this is how as we move deeper into October and November, the days get a bit shorter and temperatures a little cooler which slows things down. A lot of fields might be sitting somewhere in between the two, and for those situations the best choice may be a little more uncertain. Last year much of the later season losses came from extended rainy periods after peanuts were dug before they were combined (if they were combined at all). Based on the available information, it doesn’t look like this storm will bring a week worth of rain and overcast skies. Another factor to think about is how much leaf spot do we have now, and if we do not dig before the storm, will our peanuts still have enough leaves on afterwards to hold on to the pods that are there? In those cases, waiting for improved maturity may not be worth it if too much defoliation leaves them in the ground.”


If peanuts are mature, it may be better for them to ride out the storm on top of the ground.

For cotton growers, with all the rain and wind that’s expected, we are probably going to see some lint knocked out of the bolls and some plants bent over. We could see some mature soybeans that have already shed their leaves and dried down blown over, also.  With the rain predicted to start tonight (Thursday), we’re running out of time, so we may not be able to prepare much.  Let’s hope Matthew stays at sea and we get lots of sunlight next week to dry us out.

Here are a few links that may be of interest as you prepare:

SC EMD evacuation plan:

Hurricane Information:

Clemson Stand News Article:

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Question of the Week: Alfalfa Hopper

Last week the question was:  What will this nymph grow up to be?


The is the nymph of a threecornered alfalfa hopper.  This is a species of treehopper that can be a pest on certain crops, usually legumes.  They have piercing/ sucking mouthparts which they use to suck the sap out of the plants.  We usually don’t worry about them much in soybeans but they can cause some trouble in peanuts.  Check out the SC Pest Management Guide for more info and reccomendations.


Here is this week’s question:  What is wrong with this pumpkin plant?


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Cotton Defoliation

Nothing makes me think of fall like the smell of cotton defoliant in the air.  That smell has is becoming more and more common across the Pee Dee as September wraps up.  Here is a field in Dillon County that was sprayed earlier this week.


Most of last week was cloudy and drizzly and ended up keeping the fields wet for a prolonged period of time.  Reminiscent of the 2015 season, a few fields have some sprouted seeds from the lint staying wet for so long.  Hopefully we’ll get plenty of sunlight to finish out the season.


Lint stayed wet for several days causing some seeds to sprout.

Clemson Cotton Specialist Mike Jones has two methods for determining when to defoliate in the SC Cotton Production Guide.  For best results, both methods should be used.  Here is the description of both methods.


Defoliation and harvest aid chemicals can be found pages 83-86 of the Cotton Production Guide.  If we keep having warm weather and regular rains, there will be a high potential for regrowth, so timely harvest after defoliation will be important.


Defoliated field that’s ready to pick.

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The New 5000 lb Peanut Club

From Clemson Peanut Specialist Dan Anco.

This year we’re having a 5000 pound club (not a big club sandwich…) for growers. SC growers that produce an average of at least 5000 lb/A (dry weight) over their entire acreage will have the option of being recognized for their high production.

We will be looking for production amounts at or above this level only (for our purposes here, 5000 lb/A will be regarded as the same as 6348 lb/A, and these actual amounts will not be publicly mentioned). There will not be a cash or material prize associated with the club, but growers producing amounts over 5000 pounds will have the option of being recognized by having their name printed in the program for the 2017 SC Peanut Growers’ Meeting. Club members will receive a certificate for their achievement, and depending on the number of club members there may be an additional surprise bonus!!

Production amounts and total acreage will need to be certified by your local Extension agent. For this we can use summaries from the buying point showing dry production totals from all farms as well as an acreage report from FSA showing the total peanut acreage. Agents can then contact Marianne Copelan or myself with their area growers for the club. The target deadline this year for the club will be December 1, 2016.

Registration form:  5000-lb-club-form-and-questionnaire

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Question of the Week: Pierce’s Disease

Last week the question was:  Which disease has infected this muscadine vine?


This is a bacterial disease called Pierce’s disease, Xylella fastidiosa.  Pierce’s disease is vectored by leafhoppers, primarily the glassy winged sharpshooter.  The bacteria clog the xylem tissue in the plant decreasing water flow which leads to the scorch-like symptoms on the leaves.  Muscadines handle Pierce’s disease fairly well and will normally survive, however, Xylella is a very serious problem on other crops.  For more information, look here.


Here is this week’s question:  What will this nymph grow up to be?


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Soybean Rust Update – 9/22/16

FROM:  John Mueller, Extension Soybean Pathologist, Edisto Research and Education Center


Jonathan Croft, Agronomic Row Crop Agent for Orangeburg county found rust in a sample of 80 soybean leaves collected today from a soybean field at the R 5.4 growth stage in the Norway area.  There were 5 pustules on one leaf and 3 pustules on another leaf.  The pustules are just starting to sporulate.

Counties that have been surveyed but no rust found now include: Allendale, Anderson, Barnwell, Calhoun, Clarendon, Dillon, Darlington, Dorchester, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Lee, Marion, Newberry, Richland, Saluda and Sumter Counties. 

I think there should be a new saying about the weather in South Carolina: “if you don’t like your weather just drive 20 or 25 miles in any direction.”   Near the Edisto REC the weather has been perfect for the development of rust and many other foliar, stem and pod diseases such as Anthracnose, Phomopis and Purple Seed Stain.  Long dews and overcast, foggy weather in the morning are very favorable for disease development.  However, I am told in other parts of the state we are back to clear and dry.   If you have soybeans with good yield potential that are between growth stages R-3 and R-5 this would be a great time to spray before any diseases develop.  Remember, once you hit R-6 in a given field you cannot spray any fungicides.


Here are a few more survey results from the last few days:

Jonathan Croft, Orangeburg County Agronomic Row Crop Agent also collected 75 leaves from a field in Dorchester County that was at the R 5.3 stage on September 16.  No rust was found.

Andrew Warner, Allendale/Hampton Agronomic Row Crop Agent collected 200 leaves on September 19 from a field in Allendale at R 4; no rust was found.

If you would like an update on the occurrence of soybean rust across the United States check out .

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Powdery Mildew on Fall Watermelon

Clemson Plant Pathologist Tony Keinath recently found powdery mildew in his fall watermelon plots at the Coastal REC in Charleston.  He says this is the first time he has observed powdery mildew on fall watermelon, and its likely because the weather has been dry.


Powdery mildew symptoms on watermelon leaf.  Photo from Tony Keinath.

Dr. Keinath stated, “The SC Watermelon Spray Guide for fall watermelon does not include products specifically for powdery mildew. Growers should use Quintec or Torino as preventatives or Torino or Vivando (BASF) if they find PM. The rainy weather on the way may limit PM if it is not too advanced.”  Some areas have received a fair amount of rain in the last few days, but make sure you’re keeping an eye on what’s in your fields.

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