Thursday, July 29, 2010

2nd Annual WNC Hops Farm Tour Saturday!

The 2nd Annual WNC Hops Tour is this Saturday, July 31st!

We had such a fun time last year, we decided to do it again!

This year we will visit Winding River Hops in Clyde, NC in Haywood County. You may remember this farm from when I did some hops stringing this spring. After Winding River Hops we will travel to Black Mountain to visit Hop'n Blueberry Farm. Both of these growers are WNC AgOptions grant recipients.

There is a lot to see this year, the hops yards look great and some of your favorite local breweries are making beer from the local hops!

After the tour at Hop'n Blueberry Farm, we will travel to French Broad Brewing Company for a special tour and tasting.

Here are the details:

When?: Saturday, July 31. Registration starts at 8 am. Tour begins at 9 am.

Where?: Winding River Hops Farm, 3949 Thickety Rd in Clyde, NC. Parking at Oak Grove Baptist Church. Signs will be posted. Download the tour flyer for complete directions.

How much?: $10 per carload. CASH ONLY.

Who should attend?: Folks interested in growing hops, commercial and home brewers and beer and hops enthusiasts.

What else?: Specialists from NC State University and NCDA & CS including Dr. Jeanine Davis, Dr. Hannah Burrack, Mr. Rob Austin and Mr. Bill Yarborough will be on hand to discuss current hops projects and research. Chris Reedy and other grower members of the Southern Appalachain Hops Guild will also be at the tour discussing this year's crop and the work they are doing.

For more details download the tour flyer.

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Late Blight Confirmed on Tomatoes In Henderson County

Late blight has been positively identified in Henderson County on tomatoes. With the afternoon showers and reports from other parts of the eastern U.S. it was only a matter of time.
Growers are encouraged to scout their fields and begin with control measures.

Sorry I don't have a lot of time to put details in this afternoon, but review my post from last year for some basic information.

Recommendations for conventional producers are chlorothalonil as a preventative if late blight is not found in your field or nearby. If late blight has been identified in your field applications of cyazofamid (Ranman at 2.1-2.75 fl oz/acre), fluopicolide (Presidio at 3-4 fl oz/acre) or mandipropamid + difenoconazole (Revus Top at 5.5-7 fl oz/acre) are recommended. Always read and follow the label when using pesticides! The label is the law.

For organic recommendations, see this article from Alex Stone on eXtension.

More to be reported later. Sorry again for the short note.

This just in from NCSU Plant Pathologist Dr. Kelly Ivors:

"Hey Everybody-
This morning we found and confirmed late blight (by microscopic examination) in one small shaded area of a conventional tomato field in Henderson County. We have not been able to confirm its presence anywhere else in the tomato production areas of NC this summer, so I believe this is the start of the tomato late blight epidemic in WNC. We've had some rains recently and I'm sure it's out there elsewhere now, or soon to arrive.
Fungicide recommendations for controlling late blight on fresh market tomatoes start at week 9 in the NC tomato foliar fungicide guide.
It can be found at this link.
In addition, there is information (fact sheet) on this disease in North Carolina, including pictures of the symptoms at this link.
Check out the different diseases and select the one under Tomato Late Blight.
Please make sure to get your preventative sprays on as soon as possible if you grow tomatoes in late blight prone areas. Chlorothalonil works well as a protectant if you do not yet have the pathogen in your field. If already established in your tomato field, it would be best to apply something more than a protectant like Presidio (+ chlorothalonil) or Ranman.
If you need a confirmation of late blight in your fields, please do not hesitate to call your agent or my lab to submit a sample.

Friday, July 23, 2010

WNC Strawberry Pre-Plant Meeting, July 28

It's hard to believe its already time to start planning for the 2011 strawberry season!

Planting will start in a few short weeks so come and get some great tips and information on strawberry production at the WNC Strawberry Pre-Plant Meeting. Details below.

What?: WNC Strawberry Pre-Plant Meeting When?: Wednesday July 28, 6:30 pm

Where?: Mountain Horticulture Research and Extension Center, 455 Research Dr. in Mills River, NC

Who should attend?: All strawberry producers who are looking for the most up-to-date information on strawberry production in WNC and the entire region.

  1. Day neutral varieites and high tunnel production for WNC - Dr. Barclay Poling, NCSU Dept. of Horticultural Science. Work is sponsored by the Tobacco Trust Fund.
  2. Integrated Pest Management for Strawberries - Dr. Hannah Burrack, NCSU Dept. of Entomology.
  3. Disease Management and Fumigation Changes - Mr. Rob Welker, NCSU Dept. of Plant Pathology
1.5 Pesticide Credits are available in the categories of N, O, D and X

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blackberry Borers Can Mean Big Problems

From the latest issue of North Carolina Pest News:

"From: Hannah Burrack, Extension Entomologist

Blackberry Borers Can Mean Big Problems

Gina Fernandez, the North Carolina State University caneberry specialist, has just returned from sabbatical and has wasted no time getting out for field visits. Yesterday, she brought me several samples from blackberry fields in Guilford County that were in severe decline. Their problems were almost all insect related. There were more cane boring pests from these few sites than I have seen my entire time at North Carolina State University! I'd like to use these samples as an overview of the key cane boring insects in North Carolina, what symptoms to look for, and what the management strategies for these pests should entail.

Evidence of borer damage is often visible from a distance. Plants will appear weakened, and in the case of raspberry crown borer, floricanes will be loose and easily removed. There are 3 key cane boring insects in North Carolina, and these locations had all of them!

Rednecked Cane Borer

The rednecked cane borer (Agrilus ruficollis) is part of a family of beetles known as metallic wood boring beetles. The adults ( lay their eggs on the surface of primocanes and the larvae bore into them. When used, insecticide treatments target the adults, since the larvae do not spend time outside the plant. Larval rednecked cane borer feeding produces galls on the canes. The larvae are flat and found within the cane. As they grow, larvae will tunnel above the gall and reduce plant vigor and yield.

Low levels of rednecked cane borers can be managed with cultural control, specifically by removing and destroying all infested canes during the fall. The larvae overwinter inside the cane, so pruning will remove next year's generation of adults. For large infestations, chemical control of the adults may be necessary (for chemical information, see the Southern Region Brambles IPM Guide online at Dr. Donn Johnson, University of Arkansas fruit entomologist, has also had success removing primocanes in the early summer after the adult beetles laid their eggs (a June removal date worked the best in Arkansas and did not impact fruiting). This strategy may work well in North Carolina, because our long growing season allows plenty of time for primocane regrowth.

Raspberry Cane Borer

Raspberry cane borers (Oberea bimaculata), members of a family known as long horned beetles due their prominent antennae (, were also present in the Guilford County plantings. The adult beetles create paired girdles at primocane tips in summer. These tips wilt and will eventually fall off, and the entire cane may die. Larvae tunnel downward from the tip and have a 1 to 2 year life cycle in the southeast.

Cultural control, via pruning, is also an effective means of managing raspberry caneborers. Insecticide treatments may be targeted to the emerging and ovipositing (egg laying) adults just after bloom in cases where large infestation exist.

Raspberry Crown Borer

Raspberry crown borer (Pennisetia marginata) is perhaps the most severe pest of caneberries in the southeast. The larvae of this clearwing moth feed on the roots and crowns of caneberry plants and can kill an entire plant. Because they spend most of their 1 to 2 year larval stage underground, they are extremely hard to manage. Work conducted in Arkansas demonstrated that late fall or early spring soil drench pesticide treatments are most effective at reducing raspberry crown borers. These timed treatments target the early instar larvae before they are ensconced in the crown.

Insecticides are, at this time, the most effective means of raspberry crown borer management. Infested plants should be completely removed, since mature larvae will not be impacted by pesticide treatments.

In addition to the damage caused by these three wood boring insects, there were also several canes with damage at the tip that were dying back.

It is possible that this damage was cause by raspberry cane borers, but no larvae were found in the canes, and what tunnels there were stopped several inches from the top. If this was raspberry cane borer injury, we would expect to see tunnels continuing to the soil level or larvae present. These canes may have been injured during tipping and then feed on be opportunistic secondary pests. I dissected one of these canes, and there was fungal growth in the gallery, although this may also be secondary.

Wood boring insects are a fact of life for caneberry growers and can easily get out of control if a planting is not management carefully. There are abundant feral and wild brambles in the landscape, which serve as hosts for all three of these insects. Carefully scouting, good cultural management, and insecticide treatment when needed will keep borers from destroying caneberry plantings.

For the latest information on insect management in small fruits in North Carolina, see the NC Small Fruit, Specialty Crop, and Tobacco IPM blog at"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cost-share grants for organic certification still available

RALEIGH -- Organic growers in North Carolina can still apply for partial reimbursement of the cost of becoming certified or recertified producers through a program offered by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“We still have about a third of the grant funds available, so I would encourage organic producers who have gone through the certification process to submit their application for reimbursement,” said Kevin Hardison, marketing specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.”

Growers who are certified or recertified before Sept. 30, can apply for assistance. The program will pay 75 percent of the cost of certification, up to $750.

The program is funded through a $30,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To apply, growers must fill out an authorization form that can be found online at The completed form, a copy of the farm’s certification and a copy of the receipts from the certifying agency should be mailed to the NCDA&CS Division of Marketing, Attn. Kevin Hardison, 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1020. The invoice must show the total cost of certification and the 75 percent portion that is eligible for reimbursement.

Growers with questions can call Hardison at (919) 733-7887.

“As consumer interest in certified products has grown, so has the number of organic producers statewide,” Hardison said. “North Carolina has more than 6,000 certified organic acres, and these farms produce a variety of vegetables, livestock, herbs and other products.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Downy Mildew on Cucumber in WNC

Well, this has been a very exciting week to be a plant pathologist! First, downy mildew on basil, now downy mildew on cucumbers.
*These are two different disease problems, just because they have the same name DOES NOT mean that these two disease are caused by the same organism and will cross-infect one another!*

Cucurbit downy mildew, caused by pathogen Pseudoperonospora cubensis, has been confirmed on pickling cucumbers in Henderson County. Growers are advised to scout their cucurbit plantings which include cucumber, squash, melons and other gourds. Last year we found the downy mildew in Henderson County late in July.

Symptomatic downy mildew cucumber leaf. Angular lesion are first light green and then turn brown with age.

The underside of a downy mildew infected cucumber leaf. You can see the dark spores of the pathogen as they arise from the angular lesions which are bound by the leaf veins.

Downy mildew of cucurbits has the potential of spreading very quickly. Its wind-borne spores can spread easily throughout the region - especially on cloudy days. The pathogen prefers cool temperatures and wet conditions, which we certainly have not had in WNC as of late! I believe that recent hot, dry and sunny conditions are the reason that the downy mildew on cucurbits is not widespread at this time. For example, large cucumber plantings just miles away from where I initially found the disease are unaffected at this time.

With rain possible this weekend, it is very important to prevent downy mildew from infecting your cucurbits, especially cucumber. Growers are advised to protect their plants using fungicides. For conventional producers, review the June 4th North Carolina Pest News or review my blogpost from June 2009 for control recommendations.

Management of downy mildew on cucurbits is tricky for organic producers. There are a number of OMRI-listed products that are labeled for the control of downy mildew on cucurbits, including copper, OxiDate, Serenade and neem. In research studies, copper products were proven to be the best option (only option, really) for managing downy mildew on cucurbits. Copper is only efficacious in plants that are not yet infected or exhibit only mild symptoms.

Visit the Cucurbit Downy Mildew Forecasting Website to see where the disease is currently located and where the team predicts it to show up next.

If you need help diagnosing a problem on your cucurbits, please contact your local NC Cooperative Extension Office.

To see more pictures of the downy mildew on cucurbits and to learn more about the disease, visit my previous posts.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Basil Downy Mildew

Sporulation of Peronospora behlbarii, causal agent of basil downy mildew.

Basil downy mildew is a new disease that has been causing headaches for growers in the eastern US for the past two seasons. Basil downy mildew was reported in South Florida in October 2007. This disease has the potential to be very destructive to basil producers. European producers have been dealing with the disease since 2001. The disease is thought to have been introduced in the US from infected seed from Europe

The first confirmed case of the disease in NC occurred last summer in Chatham County. Agriculture agent, Debbie Roos, did a great post on the diseases with wonderful pictures last August.

The disease has been found in several locations in WNC this year. This is surprising because we have been so hot and dry and downy mildew pathogens tend to like cooler temperatures and wet and humid conditions. Apparently, basil downy mildew is the exception - it likes moderate to warm temperatures!

Basil downy mildew is so devastating because the discoloration of the leaves makes the basil unmarketable. Eventually the leaves will become black or necrotic and die completely.

Slight yellowing of basil plants that are infected with Peronospora behlbarii, causal agent of basil downy mildew.

Discoloration of basil leaf caused by downy mildew.

The basil downy mildew pathogen, Peronospora belbahrii, is spread by contaminated seed, marketing infected plants or leaves and wind-borne spores. This pathogen also infects other plants of the Lamiacea family which inculdes basil, sages, and mints. The spores of the pathogen are abundant on the underside of the leaf.

Discoloration of basil leaf caused by downy mildew, P. behlbarii.

Notice the fuzzy growth on the underside of the leaf. This was the first tip that what we were dealing with was downy mildew. Also, note the black dying tissue.

Dark sporulation of the pathogen P. behlbarii that causes downy mildew on basil on the underside of the leaf.

This disease can often be mistaken for sunburn on basil leaves, which I have also noted this year.

Sunburned basil leaves.

There is a similar downy mildew pathogen that infects coleus, but this pathogen has been shown to be genetically different than the pathogen on basil and the ornamental hosts are no longer considered alternative hosts to the basil disease. To read more about the specifics of basil downy mildew, visit Cornell Plant Pathologist Dr. Meg McGrath's on-line factsheet Basil Downy Mildew - A New Disease to Prepare For.

Management of basil downy mildew requires an integrated approach. Using seed that is not contaminated with the pathogen, selecting less susceptible varieties and applying fungicides are the primary practices. Management should also include increasing airflow through the plant canopy in order to minimize leaf wetness and humidity in order to suppress the disease. This is especially true in greenhouses. Dr. McGrath outlines management steps, including variety trials from New Jersey, in her factsheet.

Fungicides used for downy mildew on basil include OMRI-approved Actinovate and OxiDate, which are labeled for use. Many other conventional fungicides do not yet have the label required to control this disease on basil, with the exception of K-Phite and ProPhyte. It is expected that this will change in the near future. Fungicides should be applied frequently and prior to first symptoms if possible in order to control downy mildew on basil effectively. This is of course tricky, especially in areas without history of the disease.

If you suspect that you have downy mildew on your basil, visit your local NC Cooperative Extension office for help identifying and reporting the disease.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Small Fruit News July 2010

Natchez blackberries.

The latest edition of the Southern Region Small Fruits Consortium's Small Fruit News is now on-line.

You can find it here.

In addition, have you checked out NC MarketReady's great new websites available to strawberry, blackberry and raspberry and muscadine growers?

Check them out!