Muscadine COVID-19 Chores March / April 2020

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Muscadine COVID-19 Chores March/April 2020

Spring is right around the corner, and many important muscadine tasks start now. Please be aware that there is still a larger risk of frost nights until mid – end of April! Do not re-plant or plant new plants until the chance of last frost is over. 

Please consult this NC State University Homepage to check average last frost days.

With the season starting, following tasks are coming up in the next weeks:

    • Finish your pruning activities
    • Spring Fertilization
    • Disease Management (important for fresh-market growers). 
  • Replanting / New plantings AFTER the last frost, not before

We have compiled some important muscadine chores for March/April 2020, and also tried to address possible vineyard and viticulture questions regarding operations under the current COVID regulations. 

Carry on Documentation for agriculture personnel: 

Have every staff and labor worker, including yourself, carrying this document as method to notify law enforcement or anyone else that a person is involved in the essential agriculture industry during the shelter-in-place order. Notice of Essential Food and Agriculture Employee (PDF)

NEW Muscadine Production Guide:

Please download our NEW MUSCADINE PRODUCTION GUIDE (PDF), a comprehensive source on how to grow, manage and harvest muscadines!

Muscadine Chores:

Regular chores:

  1. Disease Management: Even if things look good, we recommend to use one application of Mancozeb or Captan around bud break as a preventative measure. Fresh market farmers may choose to use Mancozeb and Captan as back-bone disease management programs throughout the season. Please see The Small Fruits IPM Guide for further information.
  2. Fertilizer: If you broadcast fertilizer, please wait until mid-end April. Take a soils sample and early tissue samples and send it to NCDA&CS Agronomic Division. Soil and plant tissue samples are still being processed in their laboratories.
  3. Base your fertilizer needs on plant and tissue samples.
  4. Now is a good time to start scouting for potential problems in the vineyard. Make scouting a weekly habit. 
  5. Weed control: start controlling your weeds in mid April BEFORE fertilization. Please see The Small Fruits IPM Guide for further information. 

Covid-19 Questions:

  1. If you are in need of local labor, it might be easy to find. Many people have lost their jobs over the past two weeks. Please also use the NC Farm Link  and contact your local extension agent if you are in need of labor.
  2. H2-A workers and workforce in larger farms: While you might be able to secure workforce for March and parts of April, it is estimated that only a fraction of the H2-A workforce will be able to get be ready when the season starts. It is the US State Departments intend to continue processing H-2 cases as much as possible, as permitted by post resources and local government restrictions. Secretary Pompeo, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has authorized consular officers to expand the categories of H-2 visa applicants whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview.  Consular officers can, if they so choose, now waive the visa interview requirement for first-time and returning H-2 applicants who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility. Please visit the Government Homepage for H2-A visas. The USDA has also set up a special email to address any concerns regarding H2-A labor: aglabor@usda.gov
  3. How to keep labor and public safety:  Following precautions should be taken to keep your labor force and the public safe: Make sure to separate labor staff according to current public safety standards. Keep always 6 feet distance between people. Make sure that everyone washes or sanitizes hands frequently. Have plenty of gloves and hand sanitizer readily available. Ask people with disease symptoms to leave. Put up signage at your vineyard to keep public out while workers are in.
  4. Please find more resources on labor and staff management under NC State Covid-19 Farming Resources

Important Resources:

NC State COVID-19 Farming Resources

NEW MUSCADINE PRODUCTION GUIDE (PDF)

The Small Fruits IPM Guide (PDF)

Notice of Essential Food and Agriculture Employee (PDF)