News Roundup

News Roundup: May 20-26

By on May 26, 2017

News Roundup - this week's top news stories about NC agriculture

Each week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories.

  • “Rain drenches county, puts crops on hold,” Hendersonville Times-News: Rain is drenching the already saturated ground in Henderson County, putting many farming operations on hold, and forecasters say several more inches are expected before things dry up later this week. The National Weather Service is calling for showers and chances of thunderstorms through Thursday, with highs in the mid-60s and lows in the 50s. A flash flood watch was issued for Henderson and other Western North Carolina counties until 2 a.m., but Meteorologist Danny Gant with the NWS in Greer, South Carolina said more heavy rain could be on the way for today. It will likely be Friday morning before the weather clears, dropping an estimated 2 or 3 more inches of rain by then. He said this is the wettest time of year for this area, however, and this amount of rain isn’t abnormal. Weather stations installed by local growers and connected to the Network for Environmental and Weather Applications with Cornell University showed varying levels of rain Sunday and Monday throughout the county. The totals ranged from estimates of just over 1 inch in Edneyville to more than 4 inches in Hendersonville. “We need the rain, just not this much this quick,” said Jason Davis of North River Farms. Davis is being pushed weeks behind schedule thanks to the rain, as significant portions of his fields are underwater. Davis said his operation is about two to three weeks behind with planting, pushing back the schedule for tomatoes and soybeans. Everything’s going to be a little bit behind and the rain is going to shorten the harvest window, he said. Once it quits raining, they’ll be seven to 10 days out from planting. …
  • “Looking at flax, malting barley, canola to broaden North Carolina rotations,” Southeast Farm Press: Winter wheat is still the most important small grain grown in North Carolina, but researchers at North Carolina State University are looking to other small grains such as flax, malting barley and winter canola to broaden rotations in the state. At the Small Grains Field Day held May 11 at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury, Angela Post, N.C. State University Extension small grains specialist, provided an overview of the extensive small grain research being conducted across North Carolina. She said flax, malting barley and winter canola all show promise. N.C. State is conducting a population study of flax at Salisbury. “If we’re going to plant flax, we have to determine if we can grow it, what does it yield and how many seeds do we plant,” Post said at the field day. Perdue provided the Golden Flax seed and Post notes that the crop was planted later than planned, but it still looks good. “We planted it in the middle of November, which is a late planting,” she said. “It’s commonly planted at that time in Texas and the Southwest so we gave it a shot and planted it here. It turned out pretty beautiful.” …
  • “Big solar farms may be stressing agricultural ecosystem,” Carolina Journal: Ron Heiniger isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He has spent years as a crop and soil scientist helping hard-pressed farmers to get maximum yield and quality from their crops. The N.C. State Cooperative Extension Service professor says it’s his calling in life. These days Heiniger, who works at the Vernon G. James Research and Extension Center in Plymouth, worries that solar installations gobbling up prime farmland could do more to destabilize and diminish the agricultural economy of North Carolina than any naturally occurring threat that he deals with. “We really don’t recognize how fragile our agriculture system is. Today it’s under stress,” mostly from low prices, and to some degree due to young people abandoning the farming life of their fathers, Heiniger said. Utility-scale solar energy facilities are increasing the pressure on farming by taking land out of production needed to maintain a delicate economy of scale, viability, and profitability. At some stage the system will start to break down, but the question is when the decline reaches a point of no return, he said. Some farmers struggling to make a living off the land yield to the temptation to enter a lucrative lease with solar companies, and take part or all of their fields out of production. But many farmers depend on leasing neighboring land from absentee owners or non-farmers to grow crops and graze animals. Those landowners are increasingly finding it more profitable to lease to solar installations, cutting tenant farmers out of fields needed to stay in business. …
  • “Study: Breweries contribute $1 billion to Asheville area,” Asheville Citizen-Times: While beer-making might have a reputation as a laidback pursuit, a recent study attempts to quantify just how much breweries play power positions in the local economy. Brewing contributed nearly $1 billion in overall output to the Asheville area in 2016, according to a contribution analysis of the brewery industry released by the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County. The EDC’s analysis considered the Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, and was sponsored by McGuire, Wood and Bissette Law Firm. …
  • “Coastal lawmaker wants to create fish farming industry in NC,” WRAL: A proposal moving through the state Senate calls for leasing waters off the North Carolina coast so people can farm fish. Senate Bill 410 would allow people to lease from 100 to 1,500 acres in the state’s sounds and the Atlantic Ocean, where they could build underwater pens to raise various species of fish that they could later sell to supermarkets and restaurants. “We’re creating an industry here,” sponsor Sen. Bill Cook , R-Beaufort, told members of the Senate Finance Committee this week. “This is not something we’re doing in North Carolina. This will allow us to do fish farming and bring in some big bucks.” Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association, told lawmakers that fish farming is a $100 million business in his state, which has been leasing areas along its coast for 35 years. …
  • “Strawberry Growers Don’t Like Rain,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Many producers are happy to see a little rain, but strawberry growers aren’t among them. North Carolina Department of Agriculture Regional Agronomist, Don Nicholson: “That’s correct, this red and pink fruit on the bushes right now…this rain is not what they want to see. Going into the weekend, it may be a little sparse out there, they’ll have to spend a lot of money on labor going through and picking off fruit that’s really soft, and it’s just not a good situation. Strawberry growers are different from other people, they just as soon see it not rain for a month, month and a half after the strawberries start bearing, that’s the way the season has gone thus far…it’s been up and down since the beginning.” …
  • “Weather a mixed bag for Carolina growers,” The Packer: Weather in the Carolinas has been kind to some crops and locations and not so much to others, say grower-shippers around the two states. While a late-winter cold wave froze out much of the region’s peach and blueberry crops, early spring rainfall drenched some fields and nourished others. In some cases, rainfall was a mixed blessing. “We were off to a good start, with good weather and timely rain. However, the rains of April 23-24 definitely put us behind,” said Kim Kornegay-LeQuire, vice president of Princeton, N.C.-based Kornegay Family Produce, a subsidiary of Kornegay Family Farms. “Although the rain has definitely got us behind, we still think we can catch up, provided the weather is not too extreme one way or the other,” Kornegay-LeQuire said. “We always try to be positive and optimistic at the beginning of every season.” Actually, other weather issues have transcended rainfall, said Kevin Hardison, vegetable marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. “We’ve had a little weather issues — drought, rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow, cold,” he said. “We’ve had strange weather this year and for the most part it hasn’t affected all the vegetables that are out there — the summer and fall crops. However, it did hurt strawberries and blueberries a little bit.” Growers expect a decent year overall, Hardison said. “We have a lot of peppers, squash, cucumbers,” he said. …
  • “NCDA&CS Expects Good Late-Variety Blueberry Crop,” Perishable News: Despite a late March freeze that affected early varieties of blueberries grown in North Carolina, marketing specialists with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services anticipate plenty of later varieties available for consumers to enjoy. “This has been an unusual growing season for local blueberry growers, but that’s exactly why they plant so many different varieties,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The quality and quantity of later varieties should be good through July.” North Carolina is the sixth-largest producer of blueberries in the nation, with about 8,000 acres of blueberries grown in the state, said Dexter Hill, NCDA&CS marketing specialist. In 2015, blueberry production was valued at $77.9 million. The majority of blueberries grown in the state are sold to retail stores, Hill said. When buying blueberries, the department encourages consumers to look for “North Carolina” on the label. …

NC Board of Agriculture approves new agronomic tests

By on May 25, 2017

The N.C. Board of Agriculture on May 24 approved changes to the suite of tests offered by the NCDA&CS Agronomic Services Division. Here’s a summary of the changes: Added arsenic, selenium and chromium to the list of heavy metals the

Recipe Roundup: Celebrating the blues (berry)

By on May 25, 2017

WRAL reporter Brian Shrader and our own Lisa Prince feature seasonal recipes in their weekly Local Dish Cooking segment. Below, Brian and Lisa feature recipes that include our state’s official blue berry as the main ingredient. North Carolina is the

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Emerging root-knot nematode threatens sweet potatoes

By on May 23, 2017

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” Sweet potato growers should be aware of an emerging root-knot nematode that has been identified in fields in Eastern North Carolina. The

News Roundup

News Roundup: May 13-19

By on May 19, 2017

Each week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. “Can ag’s big data solve Carolina production problems on a bigger scale?” Southeast Farm Press:

Recipe: Got to Be NC Festival

By on May 18, 2017

This weekend the Got to Be NC Festival is being held at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. This event is a family-friendly celebration of agriculture, food and fun. The festival offers something for everyone, including farm animals, antique tractors,

Forest tent caterpillar strikes again! Outbreaks in NC continue for the third year running

By on May 17, 2017

Warm days are approaching here in North Carolina and all things spring can be seen! Beautiful flowers budding, green grass in yards, and butterflies fluttering around in the sunshine are all things you can see outside. However, if you look

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Celebrate agriculture at Got to Be NC Festival May 19-21

By on May 16, 2017

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” The Got to Be NC Festival makes its annual appearance at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh May 19-21. Admission and parking are free.

News Roundup

News Roundup: May 6-12

By on May 12, 2017

Each week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. “New farmers face dwindling land, soaring prices in Triangle,” The News & Observer: Thomas Saile

Recipe Roundup: Creative strawberry recipes

By on May 11, 2017

WRAL reporter Brian Shrader and our own Lisa Prince feature seasonal recipes in their weekly Local Dish Cooking segment. Below, Brian and Lisa feature recipes that include our state’s official red berry as the main ingredient. North Carolina is the