I had a call this morning about a strange looking, brown symptom on the end of the blueberries. Several ideas were thrown out — disease, spray injury, insect damage. However once I saw the problem in this photo I knew it was freeze damage.
Freeze damage on sizing blueberries
It seems almost unthinkable that we would see this in south Mississippi. But these berries were already developing when the freezing temperatures hit, so the exposed tissue was damaged. There is not much to be done about it now. Other secondary problems like insect damage or fruit splitting may occur as well. So far it has been a tough, and unusual year. Next up, SWD.
Earlier this year Jim Kamas from Texas A&M sent me a few vines of ‘Victoria Red’ to try here in Poplarville. To my knowledge this variety has not been grown in this area before, so I was intrigued to see how it would do. Below you can see a photo of what it looks like on May 15, 2013.
So far it has grown well. They are on a rootstock. I did notice some black rot on the leaves and another symptom that could be early black rot, although it resembles rupestris speckle. The variety is difficult to find in the trade, as various setbacks to propagation have occurred in the last couple of years (i.e. the major drought in Texas). Jim Kamas did a nice write up of the variety here: http://pd.tamu.edu/news/newsletter/2010-10.pdf
Some of the interesting things about ‘Victoria Red’ as stated by Jim Kamas:
“The most significant characteristic of ‘Victoria Red’ is its sustained health, vigor and productivity in Coastal Texas, an area of the United States with extremely high Pierce’s disease pressure. It is a seeded grape with bright red skin color and large, attractive clusters. The skin is tender and resists cracking at maturity due to rainfall. It has a primarily neutral flavor.”
“Both cluster size and berry size were outstanding in Victoria with clusters averaging 477 grams and berries averaging 8 grams. At the Victoria evaluation site, ‘Victoria Red’ averaged 9.1kg per vine on 8’ spacing in the row (20 lbs per vine or roughly 6 tons per acre). Average budbreak date was March 13th (about one day behind ‘Champanel’), average bloom date was April 20th, and typical harvest(using table grape parameters at 18ºBrix) was early July.”
“Victoria Red’ is recommended primarily as a fresh-fruit cultivar for on-farm and local-market sales in USDA hardiness zones 7b or warmer. It has however ripened in excess of 24ºBrix, making it a potentially valuable neutral blending wine grape for high PD risk areas.”
Thus, I am giving it a shot here in South Mississippi. We certainly need another option for bunch grapes here. My plan this year is to get it trained onto the wire and observe what happens to the vine — disease, insects, etc. Next year a spray regimen will be followed and some hopefully some fruit to taste.
The title is a little mis-leading as I will be there to talk about some newly planted grapevines (bunch grapes, not muscadines). More info on the Beaumont station is here: http://msucares.com/crec/beaumont_office.html
Hope to see you there.
2013 TriState Pecan Trade Show and Convention
June 20-21, 2013
The 2013 TriState Pecan Trade Show and Convention will begin on Thursday morning in Raymond, Mississippi, at the Randolph Smith orchards being renovated by Bill and Matt Goff.
Directions and map are included in the LPGA newsletter link below.
After orchard tours there, a picnic lunch will be provided. Next, a tour of some interesting nursery techniques across the highway at the Max Draughn orchards and nursery will follow.
By midafternoon the proceeding will move to Vicksburg for refreshments in the exhibit hall with exhibitors. State meetings will follow, and the day will finish with a reception in Exhibit Hall featuring a cash bar and heavy hors d’ouvres. The Friday educational program is being planned by Charlie Graham and a tentative program is included. The conclusion of activities will include the traditional Pecan Prognostication by Ben Littlepage around midafternoon on Friday. The hotel/casino that used to be just down the hill from the convention center has been closed. Blocks of rooms have been reserved at two hotels. These are a couple of miles away from the convention center and are next door to each other. If you reserve rooms by June 5 and use the code “TSP” a night at the Hampton Inn will be $109; use “TriState Pecan” at the Quality Inn for a rate of $62.
Fire ants are just part of life here in the southern US. They are everywhere, but most of the time if they are left alone you don’t have a problem. Well, last week I couldn’t leave them alone — I had to get my grapevines in the ground. What resulted is an ugly reminder of these invasive pests. Although they these look painful they really don’t hurt all that much. The primary issue is secondary infection, but if one keeps them clean then they heal up in a reasonable amount of time. This link has really great information and photos on fire ant stings: http://msucares.com/insects/fireants/sting.html. Below are some of my own wounds.
Fire Ant Stings on my Fingers
Multiple pustules on my arm courtesy of fire ants
Dr. Blake Layton wrote a fact sheet on how to control fire ants in fruit operations, that link is here: http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p2494.pdf
I must admit that I am not a Facebook user. When I look at Facebook pages the layout and organization don’t seem efficient. I wonder why the platform is so popular — but that is neither here nor there, millions (maybe billions) of folks use it. So, I bring to your attention a Facebook page for grape growers in the South. The page is called Southern Grape Growers and can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/SouthernGrapeGrowers
It was started by Dr. Wayne Adams, a small-scale grape grower in South Mississippi. He has a keen interest in finding new varieties that work in our difficult environment. If you have an interest in growing grapes in the South I encourage you to check it out.
There is a new pecan website available to pecan growers in Mississippi. It is a product of the Mississippi Pecan Growers’ Association and you can find it at http://www.mspecans.org
It is a brand new site, so more content will be added as time goes along. Content areas include information on nutritional aspects of pecans, growing pecans, where to buy/sell pecans, upcoming events, and more. I encourage you to take a look and try it out.
So far this year we have had quite a bit of rainfall. We have had torrential rains that caused flooding. We have had rain that fell (seemingly) every day for weeks. This could lead to situations where some peach trees may fail to make it when planted in heavy soils. Peaches, and other species in the Prunus genus, are extremely susceptible to soil flooding. Although a lot of variation exists depending on species and rootstock, in most cases 2-5 days of soil saturation is enough to kill a peach tree and in some instances as little as 1 day. This is not only attributed to lack of oxygen (hypoxia), but the anaerobic conditions create a hydrolysis of cyanogenic glycosides in the roots that leads to the production of cyanide and thus a toxic environment in the rhizosphere. I have personally witnessed several trees that died due to saturated soil conditions and heard anecdotal evidence of others. So, for peach trees, what is the best way to prevent this situation from occurrring?
If trees are already in the ground in a poorly drained soil there is precious little one can do, but if one is considering planting a new peach tree a couple options are available: plant on well-drained soil or plant on a berm.
Site selection is critical, although many homeowners don’t have much of a choice. If they want a peach tree they plant it on the land they have available to them. They can however create a berm (essentially a raised bed) to plant the tree on. This will improve drainage, but will also dry out faster, so irrigation is a must during the dry times. Peach trees are not very hardy plants. They can suffer mightily from drought and flooding, they are susceptible to many diseases and insects, as well as frosts. Growing peaches is not for the faint of heart and when they are not planted in the right place, they might just expose themselves to enough cyanide to commit suicide.
May is traditionally the time when pecan producers get worked up about Pecan Nut Casebearer (PNC). PNC can cause significant damage if uncontrolled. Some producers may decide to utilize the crop loss from PNC as a natural thinning technique. Although a nice idea in theory, what if the PNC takes 60% of the crop instead of 30%? Hence the dilemma: to control or not to control. I advocate monitoring as a way to keep on top of PNC.
In some areas, the pecan nut casebearer completes two to three generations per year. Overwintering larvae develop into moths that emerge from May to June. After tree pollination, female casebearer moths begin laying eggs on pecan nuts. These eggs result in first-generation larvae that feed on pecan nuts and generally cause the most damage. Second-generation PNC begin appearing in July. Larvae feed primarily on pecan shucks. Little damage is created from second-generation larvae. Third-generation PNC hatch 30 to 40 days later and feed for a short time (if they feed at all) on shucks. Each small larva forms a tightly woven, protective silken case (hibernaculum) near a bud or leaf scar for overwintering. These larvae emerge from hibernacula in the spring and feed by tunneling into shoots. Pupation of the overwintering generation occurs in these tunnels formed from feeding, and adults emerge the following spring to deposit the first generation of eggs on pecan nuts.
Egg-laying by PNC generally begins in May. Excessive rainfall or cold temperatures may delay development of the overwintering generation. Scouting for PNC eggs should begin one to two weeks before nut entry by larvae. This requires looking for eggs on the nuts and using a hand lens to determine the maturity of eggs. To determine infestation levels, nut clusters should be examined. A cluster is infested if any eggs are found or evidence of larval entry is observed. Examine 10 nut clusters per tree across several trees. If 2 or more clusters are infested before 310 clusters have been examined, an insecticide application should be made as soon as possible. If less than two clusters are found infested, sampling should be repeated in two to three days.
Nut clusters with eggs should be tagged with a ribbon or tape and checked daily to determine egg maturity. Insecticides should be applied within one to two days after the eggs hatch.
Pheromone-baited traps for PNC are available. The pheromone mimics the chemical emitted by female casebearer moths and attracts males to a sticky trap. Trap captures can be used to detect the arrival of PNC into an area, aid the grower in estimating population numbers, and provide a signal of when first significant nut entry by larvae may occur.
For images of PNC and the damage it causes visit this link: http://www.insectimages.org/browse/subthumb.cfm?sub=2612&start=1
The 2013 Blueberry Growers Field Day and Trade Show is scheduled for Thursday, October 10 at Blue River Farm, Mount Olive, Mississippi. This farm does an excellent job producing, harvesting and packing high quality blueberries. We will see and discuss their production techniques, harvesting methods, hand and mechanical, frost protection methods and other techniques, practiced by Blue River to make this a successful farm. Exhibitors will be on hand to exhibit their equipment and products as well as other resource people associated with the Blueberry Industry. Mark your calendars for October 10. I will keep you updated on the details of the Field Day as it develops.