State leads Southeast in summer collards

By Tom Lollis

Powell Smith and collards

Collards aren’t just for New Year’s Day anymore. “ South Carolina is the nation’s number two collard producer behind Georgia, and is the major area in the Southeast that produces collards year round,” said Powell Smith, Clemson Extension vegetable entomologist.

“The state produces about 4,200 acres of collards in the state, with more than 3,000 in Lexington County,” Smith said. He works closely with major producers to help them manage diseases, insects, nutrients and the use of cover crops. As a result, consumers get vegetables produced with fewer pesticides.

Currently his research team is working with the two largest leafy greens growers, W. P. Rawl & Sons and Clayton Rawl Farms, to seek solutions to bacterial leaf spot. The disease affects primarily mustard and turnip greens but also collards, and causes losses of about $1.5 million a year in Lexington County. Good crop rotation is essential because no chemical control options are available.

The team screened more than 700 types of leafy greens looking for resistance to the disease. They identified four lines of mustard and turnip that show promise. Now breeders at the USDA Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston are working to develop new disease-resistant varieties that may be available to growers in the next few years.

 




For information: Powell Smith, 803-284-3343, ext. 228, jpsmth@clemson.edu