September: What’s happening on the farm?

Muscadine grapes at the Upper Piedmont Research Station in Reidsville.

Muscadine grapes at the Upper Piedmont Research Station in Reidsville.

Farms are places of year-round activity. There is almost always something going on, regardless of the season. Each month we highlight one of our research stations and the work taking place on the farm during that month as well as give a little insight into the world of farming and innovative agricultural research.

There are 18 research stations across the state, operated in partnership between the department, N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University. The stations are strategically located to account for different soil types, climates, crops and livestock production. Department staff manage the day-to-day operations of the stations and the research field work, while researchers from the universities set up the parameters of the research. This month we are highlighting the Upper Piedmont Research Station in Reidsville.

September is N.C. Wine and Grape Month and a perfect opportunity to highlight some of the research going on at our stations with muscadine grapes. Muscadines are grapes that are native to southern North America and are for sale this time of year at farmers markets and grocery stores. The grapes are also used in wine production. Muscadine grape research is conducted at Upper Piedmont, Sandhills and Castle Hayne research stations by James Ballington, professor emeritus of horticulture science at N.C. State University.

“The research we are doing is mostly to identify additional breeding varieties,” Ballington said. “We are looking for large-fruited grapes for the fresh market (retail sale), cold hardiness, and for red-fruited wines, grapes that maintain a stable color.” The grapes are also evaluated for disease resistance. “We do not spray the grapes,” he said, “we let nature take its course. With some varieties, fruit rot is a problem.”

White muscadine grapes at the Upper Piedmont Research Station

White muscadine grapes at the Upper Piedmont Research Station.

Only about two acres of grapes are grown at Upper Piedmont Research Station. However, the research going on here is important to study cold hardiness of the vines. “Last winter was really cold and you can see a lot of damage on the vines,” Ballington said. “However, the fruit that the vines are producing is promising. There is uniform ripening within the clusters.” Muscadines are typically harvested by picking individual berries. If the grapes could be harvested in clusters, similar to the way table grapes are sold in grocery stores, they would have a longer shelf life.

Ballington’s trials will continue a few more years with these vines. “The next step is replicated trials,” he said. “This is where we compare the fruit being produced to what is considered to be industry standard. For white grapes the fruit would be compared to the Carlos variety, for red grapes, the Noble variety.”

After the replicated trials, Ballington would hope to propagate the cuttings and do observation trials with grape growers. He hopes the research leads to better grapes for the wine and grape industry.

Compared to other crops at the Upper Piedmont Research Station, maintaining the vineyard could be seen as easy. “We keep the middle rows cut, undergrowth sprayed back with herbicide and the trunks cut back,” said Joe French, station superintendent. But a two-acre vineyard is just one of the projects going on at this 835-acre research station.

“Right now we are harvesting about 20 acres of sorghum,” French said. “We are also gradually getting back about 50 cows from the Upper Mountain Research Station.” The station is sending its bull calves to Butner for a feed-efficiency study. “Animals are like people,” French said. “Some eat a lot and gain a little, others eat a little and gain a lot.”

Other work at the station includes horticultural trials of medicinal herbs. The Upper Piedmont Research Station is also home to one of the longest soil science trials, with research on no-till corn and soybeans ongoing for more than 30 years.

For the past 15 years, the station has hosted the N.C. Angus Association Spring Feeder Sale on the first Saturday in May. The station is also home to the Rockingham County Farmers Market, which is held Wednesdays and Saturdays from May to October. The market offers produce and crafts by local farmers and artists, and the station hopes that in the future the market can be used to test market new crops being grown at the research stations. In addition, the station hosts the 1.5-mile Chinqua-Penn Walking Trail, which is maintained by station staff and open to the public.

With harvest time here for many crops and cows returning home, it’s a busy time to be in Reidsville.

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The Upper Piedmont Research Station is home to about 150 head of cattle.

 

 

 

 

 

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USDA designates 5 coastal counties as disaster areas

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Pamlico County as a primary natural disaster area because of damages and losses caused by excessive rain and winds that occurred when Hurricane Arthur hit the North Carolina coast on July 3. Farmers and ranchers in Beaufort, Carteret, Craven and Hyde counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Sept. 10, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met.

Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, The Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs.

Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

-Information from USDA

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News Roundup: Sept. 5-12

News Roundup logoEach 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. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  • “From Equipment Manufacturing to Wine Making on the Same Farm,” Southern Farm Network: September is wine and grape month in North Carolina, and you can’t talk about either without talking to Ron Taylor, with LuMil Vineyards, and DiVine Foods in Elizabethtown, North Carolina. Taylor talks about how they got their start in the grape and wine business: “Well, what we were doing at Taylor Manufacturing making tobacco, cotton and peanut equipment, that kind of thing, and with the buyout of the federal tobacco program, and we were looking for other implements to make. So, we put in a few acres of grapes just to do research & development to make equipment. We made an automatic grape harvesters, sprayers, and pruners, we have sold this equipment throughout the muscadine belt, primarily and in other grape producing areas particularly, and that put us in the grape growing business.” …
  • “The great pumpkin: NC man’s 1,296-pound fruit sets a state record,” The News & Observer: By Aug. 22, Danny Vester’s prize pumpkin had grown to the size of a small boulder, so he loaded it onto a forklift and gently dropped it in the bed of his 4×4 pickup, where it fit with only a half-inch to spare. Vester then drove south to a pumpkin weigh-off in Alabama, his treasure secured in a nest of hay. Passing drivers snapped pictures, waved arms and honked horns, so distracted by the moon-sized fruit that they wouldn’t let him change lanes, forcing Vester to tote his giant gourd through the middle of Atlanta. “Something about a big pumpkin on the back of a pickup truck will make people happy,” said Vester, 60.  …
  • “Farm Fresh offering early cured sweet potatoes,” The Produce News: With most North Carolina farms growing diverse crops, it’s hard to pinpoint a solid start date for the harvest of North Carolina sweet potatoes, according to Steven Ceccarelli, the owner of Farm Fresh Produce Inc., based in Faison, NC. Ceccarelli said Sept. 5 that about 10-20 percent of the sweet potato harvest was complete. But many growers also harvest tobacco, and from a farm management and labor point of view, tobacco harvest would precede sweet potatoes. Farmers of peanuts or other crops would have still other harvest schedules. But for Ceccarelli, an early start is important, and he planned to be the season’s first exporter of cured sweet potatoes. “We will have cured potatoes this weekend,” which would be Sept. 6, he said. The curing process can take between two and six weeks, depending on variables such as ambient temperature and humidity. The two-week process is a “quick cure” he said. “It takes a month for a full cure, but six weeks if you have unfavorable conditions.” …
  • “Area breweries investing millions, adding staff,”Asheville Citizen-Times: Asheville’s craft brewery boom continues to see explosive growth, with local beer producers dropping millions on expansions and staff. The $175 million New Belgium brewery going up in West Asheville along the French Broad River stands out as the area’s biggest project, and it reflects the nation’s growing preference for craft beer, such as IPAs, pale ales, bitters and others styles. Year-to-date sales for craft beer are up 20 percent in 2014 from 2013 numbers, according to the Brewers Association trade group. Overall, craft beer was 7.8 percent of beer sold in 2013, the association said. …
  • “Chickens come home to roost for Tim Cathey,” Lincolnton Times-News: Tim Cathey is a disruptive innovator. He finds unexpected solutions to problems and creates new technology in the process. Some of that technology may soon impact farming practices in Lincoln County and beyond. Through his company, Novovita, Cathey has developed a line of bio-based agricultural products that can organically suppress weeds, reduce erosion and create fertilizer from industrial chicken waste. Two of the products are currently being tested in the county. Cathey’s business card says he is an environmental designer. Recalling the environmental movement of the late 1960s, Cathy speaks with an air of ownership regarding issues of the time. His design process is mindful of the natural world. “I try to design things in a way that is acceptable environmentally by choosing materials based on recyclability and performance,” he said. …
  • “Crank Arm Brewery Nabs Best of Show in State Fair Competition,” TWC News: The winners of the NC State Fair’s 2014 N.C. Brewers’ Cup competition have been announced, and Best of Show went to Rickshaw Rye IPA by Crank Arm Brewing in Raleigh. The competition was organized by the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild and presented by All About Beer Magazine. The third-year competition drew 228 professional entries and 182 home-brew entries. Entries were evaluated by 30 professional beer judges Sept. 6 and 7 at Mystery Brewing Co. in Hillsborough. The top winners will be displayed in the Education Building at the N.C. State Fair Oct. 16-26. …
  • “FDA’s Taylor says food-safety inspections to change in post-FSMA,” The Produce News: The Food & Drug Administration is retooling inspectors to be more specialized in food and teaching them to assess a company’s food-safety culture for the first time when deciding whether to return for another inspection, Mike Taylor, the FDA ‘s food-safety chief, said Sept. 10 at the United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Conference, here. This was just one of several messages he brought to the breakfast meeting of the conference as he mapped out the FDA’s plan for assuring compliance with the massive Food Safety Modernization Act. …
  •  “Efficiency key to success for Steve and Archie Griffin,” Southeast Farm Press: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Steve Griffin’s return to the family farm in Beaufort County North Carolina. Much has changed in farming since 1974, but one constant is the importance of efficiency. It’s a lesson Griffin has taught to son Archie, who returned to the farm three years ago after completing a degree in soil science and crop production at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. “Ever since I came back, Dad has stressed the more efficient you are with your farm, the more you get out of it. You can always better your farm by being more efficient,” Archie says. The Griffins farm six miles north of Washington in Beaufort County, where sandy soils have always been a challenge. A key to efficiency is incorporating new technology. The Griffins say it’s a must for controlling costs. …
  •  “NC Fish Fry: Farmer’s Market Hosts Seafood Day,” WUNC: North Carolina is known for its diverse agriculture offerings. And you can always count on the State Farmer’s Market to feature the best the state has to offer, from collard greens to sweet potatoes. But on Thursday, for the first time, the State Farmer’s Market hosted Seafood Day. Enthusiasts said it’s been a long time coming. It was the perfect day for a fish fry. It was hot outside and the fish was hot, right out of the skillet. Chef Tom Armstrong of Vinnie’s Steakhouse in Raleigh could hardly get a break. “We steamed about 600 clams and they’re all gone,” said Armstrong. “I’m actually surprised. Pleasantly, surprised.” …

 

 

 

 

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Got to Be NC Competition Dining: Heirloom Resturant

G2BNC Competition DiningOnce a month we highlight a chef and a recipe from the Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining series. This month, we are featuring Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte.

In the Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining Series two local chefs face off in a single-elimination, blind-dinner format. Each chef’s menu is created around a North Carolina ingredient that is revealed at noon on the day of the competition. This secret ingredient must be used in each course — appetizer, entree and dessert. Competitions are held in Asheville, Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington.

Chef Clark Barlowe and his team from Heirloom competed again Chef Luca Annunziata of Passion8 Bistro in the first round of Fire in the City on August 18. The secret ingredients were NC-raised eggs and Harrell Hill Farms Molasses. Harrell Hill is the largest producer of sorghum-syrup molasses in the state. The farm is located in Bakersville and has been in operation since the late 1700s.

Passion8 won the night and went on to compete in the next round of competition on Sept. 8. Fire in the City continues through Sept. 29. Remaining dinners are sold out.

Pastry Chef Joselyn Perlmutter, a member of Chef Barlowe’s team from Heirloom, provided the following recipe for sorghum cake. Heirloom Restaurant’s sorghum cake was the second highest scoring dish of the night and made great use of both eggs and molasses.

Sorghum Cake

    • 1/2 pound brown sugar
    • 7 1/2 ounces butter
    • 3 local farm eggs
    • 1.5 cups Harrell Hill Farms sorghum-syrup molasses
    • 12 1/2 ounces cake flour
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon allspice
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients, then add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add in molasses. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk until the bath is just incorporated. Bake in a half sheet pan at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. The cake is finished when a tester comes out clean.

 

Dark Chocolate Sorghum Cremeux

  • 1200 grams heavy cream
  • 240 grams yolk
  • 150 grams Harrell Hill Farms sorghum syrup molasses
  • 700 grams dark chocolate

Bring the heavy cream and sorghum to a boil and temper in the yolks. To temper in the yolks whisk a cup of the hot cream into the yolks, and pour the now warm yolks back into the cream. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until it reaches 185 degrees, or coats the back of a spoon. Once at temperature, pour over the chocolate. Wait five minutes for the chocolate to melt, and whisk the chocolate and cream mixture together.

 

Sorghum Raspberry Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup Harrell Hill Farms sorghum syrup molasses
  • 1/2 cup raspberry puree
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 ounces butter

Mix the water and sugar in a medium pot until all of the sugar is wet. Juice the lemon into the sugar, and rub it on the sides of the pot. This will keep the sugar from crystalizing. Let the sugar boil on medium heat until it is a dark amber color. Add the butter, cream, sorghum and raspberry puree. Be careful to add the cool ingredients slowly as the caramel will bubble.

 

Raspberry Anglaise

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 ounces local egg yolks
  • 3 ounces sugar
  • 1/2 cup raspberry puree

Bring the cream, sugar, and raspberry puree to a boil. Temper in the egg yolks, and whisk over medium heat until it reaches 185 degrees, or when the mixture can coat the back of a spoon. Serve cold. Once cool, this can also be used as a raspberry ice cream base. Follow the instructions on your ice cream maker to churn.

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Coming soon to a tree near you! (Maybe.)

North Carolina has its fair share of invasive insects and diseases that threaten to destroy our natural resources. In 2011, laurel wilt was first found in the state. In 2012, thousand cankers disease was found. And in 2013, the first detection of the emerald ash borer was made. But what does the future hold? Will the invasive species just keep on coming? The short answer is: most likely, yes.

There are already some invasive insects that have used their one-way ticket to the U.S. They threaten other parts of the nation and have the potential to enter North Carolina either through natural spread or via long-range dispersal in firewood. In the case of invasive species, all good things do not come to those who wait.

The Asian longhorned beetle is one of these. It is a striking beetle with long antennae. Native to Asia, it has been found in several states, including Illinois, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. To date, it has not been found in North Carolina. Unlike many of our other invasive species that only attack a single group of trees, the Asian longhorned beetle attacks many tree species. Among its favorites are maple, willow, and elm. When the Asian longhorned beetle comes to town, it leaves dead trees in its wake. But only if you let it!

The good thing about the Asian longhorned beetle is that in areas where small infestations have been detected, eradication has been possible. Trees with any signs or symptoms of infestation are removed quickly and a quarantine is typically put into place to prevent further spread. This plan, while leaving an area with much less trees that it had before, has shown to be successful more than once.

The interesting thing about these early detections is that almost all of them have been detected by homeowners. These homeowners have taken the bug by its horns and been proactive participants in efforts to mitigate damage caused by the Asian longhorned beetle, equipped only with the ability to identify the insect and the damage it causes.

So, equip yourself! Identifying this pest and its signs is fairly simple. The Asian longhorned beetle is fairly large, measuring 1 to 1½ inches in length. They are black with about 40 white spots on their wing covers. Their antennae are very long, extending past the tip of their abdomen, and have black and white banding. Not only will an infested tree likely look in poor health, but it may have exit holes or egg laying niches on the bark.  Exit holes are round and about the diameter of a pencil (up to ¾ inch). Egg-laying niches are round or oval depressions in the bark, chewed out by the female beetle.

LEFT: The adult Asian longhorned beetle is black with white spots and has banded antennae.  Early identification of the insect is critical in an eradication program.  Image: Joe Boggs, Bugwood.org.  RIGHT: Exit holes of the Asian longhorned beetle are round and about the size of a pencil (shown below finger).  Egg-laying niches are oval or round depressions in the bark.  Image: Dennis Haugen, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org.

LEFT: The adult Asian longhorned beetle is black with white spots and has banded antennae. Early identification of the insect is critical in an eradication program. Image: Joe Boggs, Bugwood.org. RIGHT: Exit holes of the Asian longhorned beetle are round and about the size of a pencil (shown below finger). Egg-laying niches are oval or round depressions in the bark. Image: Dennis Haugen, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org.

Now, you’re ready. If this insect ever does make its way to North Carolina, then maybe it could be you who alerts authorities to its presence. Hey, there are worse ways to become famous! To report an invasive species, call 1-800-206-9333 or report by email: newpest@ncagr.gov.

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Today’s Topic: September is NC Wine and Grape Month

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Wine Month LogoGov. Pat McCrory has proclaimed September as North Carolina Wine and Grape Month. Commissioner Troxler says it’s a good month for celebrating the state’s wine and grape industry, as wineries are popular attractions in the fall, and September and October are prime time for the muscadine grape harvest.

The state’s wine and grape industry continues to grow and is now home to more than 140 wineries and 400 commercial grape growers.

Whether it’s buying a pint of grapes at the farmers market, trying a new North Carolina wine or planning a trip to a vineyard, Commissioner Troxler encourages everyone to find a way to support the state’s wine and grape industry this month.

Farmers produce native muscadine grapes, including the famed scuppernong, which was the nation’s first cultivated wine grape. Muscadines are grown in the Coastal region of the state. The fresh-market muscadine crop is looking good this year, thanks to some dry weather at the beginning of the harvest. Drier weather concentrates the juice inside the grape and enhances the sweetness. You can find muscadines at farmers markets and roadside stands.

North Carolina farmers also grow European-style grapes, such as merlot and chardonnay. These are grown mainly in the Western and Piedmont regions of the state.

North Carolina is now home to four federally recognized American Viticultural Areas. The latest is the Upper Hiawassee Highlands AVA in the western part of the state. It joins the Haw River, Swan Creek and Yadkin Valley AVAs. These regions are important in helping consumers identify a wine’s origin.

For more information about North Carolina wine and grapes, plus special events planned throughout September, click here.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss Wine and Grape Month.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

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New members inducted into the NC Mountain State Fair Livestock Hall of Fame

The livestock shows are an integral part of the annual N.C. Mountain State Fair. From beef cattle and meat goats to swine and llamas, the livestock shows represent the diversity of livestock found in Western North Carolina.

Started in 2011, the N.C. Mountain State Fair Livestock Hall of Fame honors individuals who have contributed to the continued success of the livestock shows. This year’s inductees were Gary and Joy Stamey and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and his wife, Sharon. The couples were inducted during a presentation Sept. 5, opening day of the 2014 N.C. Mountain State Fair.

Gary Stamey was the livestock director at the Mountain State Fair from 2003 until his passing in November 2013. He and his wife, Joy, were heavily involved in organizing livestock shows at the fair and throughout Western North Carolina. Vance Muse, a longtime family friend, provided remarks on behalf of the Stameys. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler presented the award to Joy Stamey and Gary’s father, Neal, during the ceremony.

Commissioner Troxler and Neal Stamey present Joy Stamey with her plaque for being inducted into the N.C. Mountain State Fair Livestock Hall of Fame.

Commissioner Troxler and Neal Stamey present Joy Stamey with her plaque for being inducted into the N.C. Mountain State Fair Livestock Hall of Fame.

After presenting the award to the Stameys, Commissioner Troxler learned that he and his wife, Sharon, also had been inducted into the Hall of Fame. The award came as a surprise to Commissioner Troxler, who thanked the organizers of the livestock show for their continued hard work.

“Sharon and I have a special place in our hearts for the people of Western North Carolina,” Troxler said. “I can’t thank you enough for this incredible honor.”

Commissioner Troxler and Sharon Troxler are inducted into the N.C. Mountain State Fair Livestock Hall of Fame with their family by their side.

Commissioner Troxler and Sharon Troxler are inducted into the N.C. Mountain State Fair Livestock Hall of Fame with members of their family by their side.

The 2014 N.C. Mountain State Fair runs through Sept. 14. This year’s livestock shows feature 3,840 animals across 19 departments. A complete schedule of livestock shows is available at www.mountainfair.org.

 

 

 

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News Roundup: Aug 30 – Sept. 5

News Roundup logoEach 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. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  • “Fish food: Aquaponics offers full-circle farming,” Smoky Mountain News: Tucked away along a squirrely offshoot of Jonathan Creek Road, Dennis “Bear” Forsythe’s 15-by-15-foot greenhouse is like his own private Eden. The small outbuilding in rural Haywood County holds 500 plants representing 58 species, everything from pineapple to pepper. “I just love doing it,” Forsythe said. “You have running water and it’s soothing, it’s relaxing. You come out here and you say, ‘I grew everything here from seed.’” The running water is a bit of an anomaly compared to most greenhouses. So is the complete absence of any soil. Instead of soil, the plants get their nutrients from the fish swimming in two separate fish tanks inside the building. Specifically, from their waste. It’s a method of agriculture that’s been gaining traction over the last decade or so, a method known as aquaponics. …
  • “N.C. Mountain State Fair opens,” Asheville Citizen-Times: In its 21-year history, the North Carolina Mountain State Fair has followed an established course. But why should it change? Last year’s fair pulled a record crowd of 191,596, and if the weather holds out, the 2014 edition should equal that. The fair, Sept. 5-14 at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher, is a feast for the senses. The fairgrounds are lit by colorful carnival rides. Booming pop music pours from speakers. Games line the midway. Vendors sell an assortment of tasty foods (this is no place to be on a diet). The Mountain Heritage Stage has live bluegrass, mountain music and dance. Agricultural and livestock exhibits are plentiful. Side show entertainment ranges from stilt puppets to sea lions and racing pigs. …
  • “Ag Summary: September is Wine & Grape Month,” Southern Farm Network: September is wine and grape month in the Tar Heel State. One indicator of the industry’s maturity is the federal government’s recent designation of a fourth American Viticultural Area in the state. North Carolina’s grape-growing history dates to the late 1500s, when Sir Walter Raleigh’s explorers first noticed wild scuppernongs on Roanoke Island. North Carolina boasts more than 400 commercial grape growers. Muscadines are grown mainly in the East, while European-style vinifera grapes are grown in the West and Piedmont. While many of the grapes are used to make wines and other specialty products, there is also a significant fresh market for the fall fruit. In September and October, shoppers can find fresh, native muscadine grapes at farmers markets and roadside stands. …
  • “Forest service seeks tree nuts and seeds,” Wilkes Journal-Patriot: The N.C. Forest Service office in Wilkesboro is seeking the public’s assistance in collecting acorns, hickory nuts and other nuts and seeds of trees to produce seedlings at the state nursery in Goldsboro. Michael Crouse, assistant county ranger with the forest service in Wilkes, said Thursday that he and other forest service personnel will gather tree nuts and seeds on private property with owner permission. The forest service doesn’t pay for what it collects. Crouse, seedling collector for Wilkes, said forest service personnel sometimes use non-motorized devices with wire mesh baskets, pushing them along on the ground, to collect nuts. He said church lawns often are among the best places to gather tree nuts. He said removing them also helps avoid accidents. Crouse noted that trees produce considerably more nuts and seeds some years than others. …
  •  “Couple’s dream turns into thriving cheese business,” Greensboro News & Record: Harold and Carol Penick were college students on their first date when they discovered that they shared a dream of building a farm.And now, nearly 40 years later, the two Auburn University graduates have not only worked to bring their dream to fruition, but also have launched a thriving goat cheese business. “We use a really old style of cheese making, so it’s different than anything else around,” their daughter, Jesse Penick, said. “It’s extremely creamy, very mild and very smooth — more like cream cheese — and people just can’t seem to get enough of it.” Situated on what used to be a tobacco farm, the 20-acre operation just north of Kernersville was nothing more than a meadow when the Penicks bought it three years ago, which inspired the farm’s name: Once Upon a Meadow. …
  • “LIGHTNING EDITORIAL: Elected leaders ignore farmers’ biggest concern,” Hendersonville Lightning: By most accounts, Henderson County’s 2014 apple crop is high in quality and lower in quantity. A shorter crop is not necessarily a bad thing. Last year, despite record rainfall that ruined most of the sweet corn and produce in the French Broad Valley, apple farmers harvested a bumper crop. And not just in Henderson County. It was a big year up and down the East Coast. When all the apples came off the trees, the market was flooded with cheap fruit. “We had two extreme variables last year,” recalled Edneyville grower Jerred Nix. “We had 45-cent Galas early and a half-a-cent juice at the end of the year.” …
  • “Muscadines on the rise,” Wilmington Star News: It’s no secret that chefs, diners and home cooks have all embraced the farm-to-table and local food movements. And that trend may be just the boost that’s needed for one North Carolina agricultural product that’s more used to being the butt of a joke than served with a cloth napkin. “Some restaurants, a lot more lately, have gone to serving and cooking with muscadine wines, a lot more than five years ago,” said Jonathan Fussell, who owns the Duplin Winery with his brother David. “Our wines used to be one or two out of a hundred. Now it’s more like 15 to 20.” Fussell’s account is backed up by recent data tabulated by the North Carolina Muscadine Grape Association. “Over the past five years, the number of muscadine grape growers has increased exponentially,” said organization spokeswoman Ashley Graham Phipps. “People want to grow them for personal pleasure, and most of our growers have seen an increase in food use.” …
  • “Looper numbers gaining in N.C. soybeans,” Southeast Farm Press: Remember that the threshold for soybean loopers (and all defoliating pests) is 15 percent defoliation throughout the canopy (thresholds and defoliation guide here). Loopers generally defoliate from the bottom of the canopy up so peel back those plants when you scout. Looper numbers have really picked up in soybeans. Loopers are migratory pests that sometimes show up late season and eat leaves, but not pods or seeds. Remember that the threshold for soybean loopers (and all defoliating pests) is 15 percent defoliation throughout the canopy (thresholds and defoliation guide here). Loopers generally defoliate from the bottom of the canopy up so peel back those plants when you scout. …

 

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Farmers markets offer apples, grapes and more this September

September offers a great opportunity to enjoy both late-summer and early-fall produce at local farmers markets. The state-operated farmers markets in Asheville, Charlotte, Colfax and Raleigh offer a large selection of fresh produce for school lunches, meats and cheeses for tailgating, and wines and specialty products made in North Carolina. You can also find flowers, trees and shrubs for your fall plantings. Many markets have events planned to celebrate Wine and Grape Month, in honor of the state’s fast-growing wine industry.  Here are all the events taking place at our markets this month:

Enjoy free apple tastings Sept. 19 at the WNC Farmers Market in Asheville.

Enjoy free apple tastings Sept. 19 at the WNC Farmers Market in Asheville.

Grape Day, State Farmers Market, Raleigh
September is prime time for fresh-market muscadine grapes. Enjoy grapes, jellies and wine during this annual event Friday, Sept. 5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Seafood Day, State Farmers Market, Raleigh
This is the first-ever Seafood Day at the market. Shoppers can purchase fresh seafood from the North Carolina coast and sample seafood dishes prepared by Chef Tom Armstrong of Vinnie’s Steakhouse in Raleigh. Seafood Day is Thursday, Sept. 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

12th Annual Taste Carolina Wine Festival, Robert. G. Shaw Piedmont Triad Farmers Market, Colfax
During the Taste Carolina Wine Festival on Saturday, Sept. 13,  guests will get to sample a variety of N.C. wines from noon to 6 p.m. All guests will receive a complimentary tasting glass and a program to help find their favorite wineries.

Apple Tasting, WNC Farmers Market, Asheville
Locally grown apples are in plentiful supply this time of year. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the many varieties available at the market on Friday, Sept. 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sweet Potato Day, State Farmers Market, Raleigh
North Carolina is the top sweet potato producer in the nation and the market will be celebrating on Thursday, Sept. 25. Market vendors will offer plenty of sweet potatoes for purchase. Shoppers can sample a sweet potato dessert from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

These are just some of the ways to celebrate the best of local agriculture this September. Be on the lookout for other promotions and special events later this year that will focus on fall products, including pumpkins, collards, pecans and Christmas trees.

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Flavor, NC: Goat Lady Dairy

Flavor NC logoTwice a month we feature local restaurants, farms and farmers markets featured on episodes of UNC-TV’s Flavor, NC. This week, we review episode two of the first season in which hostess Lisa Prince highlights Goat Lady Dairy in Climax.

“When you think cheese, most think cows,” said Lisa. “Maybe it’s time to think goats instead.” Goat Lady Dairy, located in the sprawling farmlands of Randolph County, makes about 40,000 pounds of cheese per year. The farm was one of the first in the state providing handmade goat cheese.

Jenny Tate and her brother, Steve Tate, bought a 200-year-old tobacco barn in the 1980s and opened Goat Lady Dairy in 1995. The 75-acre farm produces several varieties of goat cheese, operates a 15-acre community supported agriculture farm and, during several weekends of the year, offers farm tours and a slow-food dining experience. Dining is offered monthly in the spring and fall. Information and reservations are accepted online.

Following is a recipe provide by Steve Tate for Skillet Eggs with Kale and Italian Sausage.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 lb Italian sausage or Chorizo
  • 1 small onion, diced small or slivered
  • 1 bunch kale, separate stems from leaves, coarsely chop both
  • 6 eggs
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crumbled Goat Lady Dairy Smoked Round, Farmers Cheese or both

Preparation:

Heat large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; add crumbled sausage, onion and kale stems and cook, stirring often for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are starting to brown. Add kale and cook, tossing often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle a little lemon juice and pepper over the mixture and toss well. Reduce heat to medium and crack eggs, one at a time, at intervals over the sausage and kale mixture; cook briefly uncovered. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over pan contents and eggs; cover and cook until eggs are set, about 3 minutes.  Top with crumbled cheese. Serve immediately

 

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