In The Field

Subscribe to In The Field feed
Updated: 7 min 18 sec ago

News Roundup: Oct: 15-21

1 hour 38 min ago

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. Following is a selection of stories related to Hurricane Matthew and the start of the N.C. State Fair. 

  • “State Fair comes at stressful time for farm families dealing with floods,” WRAL: As eastern North Carolina continues to deal with the damage left behind by Hurricane Matthew, officials with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are hoping the 2016 N.C. State Fair can be an event that brings people together. State Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler said, “Agriculture’s a family in North Carolina, and this state fair is stress relief in getting away from what I know is devastation.” …
  • “State Fair honors century farms,” WRAL: (Video) Every four years, the North Carolina State Fair holds a luncheon to honor farmers whose farms have been in their families for at least 100 years.
  • “North Carolina sweet potatoes escape serious Hurricane Matthew damage,” The Packer: North Carolina and South Carolina growers continue to assess damage from Hurricane Matthew, which flooded fields and caused power outages when it struck the Carolinas on Oct. 7-9. As North Carolina sweet potato growers had harvested more than half of their crop by mid-October, growers remain optimistic as they continue to assess damage. …
  • “Hyde farmers experience crop damage,” Washington Daily News: As Hurricane Matthew pummeled eastern North Carolina Oct. 8-9, and then caused rampant flooding in the weeks following, Hyde County farmers experienced devastating effects on their crops. “While the damage is still being assessed, it is important to realize what these damaged or lost crops mean to the economies of our counties. Some of these images are taken on farms that also suffered crop losses last year, and the year before, all due to the incredible amounts of rainfall we have experienced over that time,” said Rod Gurganus, Beaufort County agriculture agent, who also monitored the flooding in Hyde. Crews and residents worked to pump out some of the standing water, as well as repair the damage left by the floodwaters. …
  • “Pictures show hurricane’s unprecedented damage to North Carolina crops,” Southeast Farm Press: (photo gallery) While it is still too early to put a dollar value on the damage to crops in North Carolina from Hurricane Matthew, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says the destruction to agriculture is unprecedented. The commissioner surveyed the crops in eastern North Carolina twice by helicopter and notes that the destruction is worse than the damage brought on by Hurricane Floyd in September 1999. He said cotton, peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans are hardest hit. Hogs and poultry were also hard hit, but Troxler said it is amazing that mortality rates weren’t higher. “The hard numbers are we have less than 2 million chickens that have died; we have about 250 million chickens in North Carolina. We lost 1,300 hogs and we raise more than 9 million hogs per year in North Carolina,” Troxler said. …
  • “Homeowners should review termite treatment agreements if flooding caused substantial damage,” Bladen Journal: Hurricane Matthew brought significant flooding to many areas of our state. As cleanup begins, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services encourages homeowners to check whether flooding washed away household termite protection. “If soil eroded from around the foundation of a house, or if more soil was deposited on top of treated soil, a home’s termite protection has been jeopardized,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Homeowners need to work with a licensed structural pest control company to determine if liquid termiticide barriers or bait stations have been compromised and to review treatment options.” …
    “Cotton crops see biggest hit after Hurricane Matthew,” Washington Daily News: Cotton crops across Beaufort County are taking a hit due to wet conditions exacerbated by Hurricane Matthew. Rod Gurganus, Beaufort County agriculture agent, said farmers are looking at a 50- to 70-percent loss on cotton yield. He said a good yield is about 1,000-1,200 pounds of cotton per acre, but this year the crop was already down to about 700-800 pounds. Matthew dealt another blow, reducing yield even further to about 200-400 pounds. …
  • “NC State’s Sheppard brews up research,” Technician: Tucked away in the bottom floor of Schaub Hall is an NC State facility many students may be surprised to learn exists: It’s a fully functioning brewery, and it’s in production. The brewery is run by Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences professor John Sheppard, and acts as a research facility where he and some of his graduate students work on improving brewing and fermenting techniques. Sheppard moved to NC State in 2006 from his previous job at McGill University in Montreal, where he had also run a brewery.  …
  • “Goat Lady Dairy wins big at State Fair,” The Courier Tribune: Goat Lady Dairy of Climax took top honors in the 2016 N.C. State Fair Cheese Competition. The dairy’s Lindale Raw Milk Gouda won Best of North Carolina and Best of Show, in addition to winning the Open Class Hard Cheese category.
    Goat Lady Dairy also won first place with its Sandy Creek, Smokey Mountain Round and Roasted Red Pepper Fresh Chevre. The Best of Show and Best of North Carolina winner receives a platter, a rosette and a $100 check from Whole Foods Market. Kilby Family Farm in Asheboro took home two first-place awards. …
  • “State Fair Brings Fun to NC After Hurricane Matthew,” Time Warner Cable News: (video) This weekend marks the first weekend of the 2016 North Carolina State Fair. Attendance numbers were down for the first two days but thousands of people showed up on Saturday. Those who were able to make it say they are looking for fun and food.Some people say the fair is just what they needed after Hurricane Matthew caused major problems for parts of the state. …
  • “Koi Pond beer earns State Fair honor,” Rocky Mount Telegram: A Rocky Mount craft brewer walked away with a first-place award in the recent beer competition held as part of the N.C. State Fair. Strawberry Lotus Saison by Koi Pond Brewing took the top trophy in the commercial fruit beer class, a release says. The brewing competition, in its fifth year this year, is growing, climbing from 553 entries in 2015 to 651 this year. Of this year’s entries, 447 came from professional brewers and 174 from home brewers. The competition is organized by the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild. Professional judges evaluated the beers Oct. 1-2 at Mystery Brewing Co. in Hillsborough. …
  • “NCSU students help children milk cows at State Fair,” The News & Observer: By the time 3-year-old Avery Miller made her way to a stool next to Daisy the milk cow, she decided she wasn’t too keen on milking that cow after all. But that didn’t faze the N.C. State University student sitting next to her. Together they rubbed the cow’s belly and talked about where milk comes from. That’s all part of the gig for dozens of N.C. State students who make their way to the State Fair every year for a chance to work with animals and educate hundreds of North Carolinians about the dairy industry and the work that goes into producing a safe product for human consumption. …



N.C. State Fair Recipe: “Hidden Treasures” Pecan Bars

Thu, 10/20/2016 - 21:12

This week the N.C. Pecan Association held a recipe contest at the N.C. State Fair. Carol Brown of Mebane placed first and earned $125 for her “Hidden Treasures” Pecan Bars. Contestants could enter any breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack, dinner or dessert-type recipes, as long as they contained at least one cup of pecans.

Lindsay Key of Trinity earned $75 and second place for her pecan cheese cake and Cherie Michaud of Chapel Hill earned $50 and third place for her Nana and Roux’s Butter Pecan Pound Cake. A list of all winning recipes for the 2016 N.C. State Fair is online at

The N.C. State Fair runs through Sunday, Oct. 23. Following is the winning recipe.

“Hidden Treasures” Pecan Bars

 Shortbread Layer

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup pecans chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix flour and brown sugar together. Then add the butter and pecans. Spread onto prepared baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Cool slightly or about 10 minutes.

Cheesecake Layer

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream together cream cheese, butter, sugar and flour until well combined. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Pour on cooled shortbread layer and bake for 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.

Pecan Layer

  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon brandy
  • 1 ½ cups toasted pecans
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup white chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, corn syrup and melted butter. Add eggs and beat until well incorporated. Add pecans, dark and white chocolate chips, brandy and salt. Pour over cooled cheesecake layer and bake for 35-40 minutes until center is set and pecan layer is a rich brown color. Optional: drizzle with ¼ cup melted white chocolate chips.






Today’s Topic: ‘There’s a lot of resiliency in a farmer’

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 08:49

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

The N.C. State Fair opened Oct. 13 in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which devastated farms in central and eastern North Carolina.

Commissioner Troxler says it’s understandable that some families won’t be able to attend the fair or participate in its competitions this year because they are dealing with storm impacts at home.

But, he says, there have been a few surprises. For example, the family whose kid won the Junior Market Barrow show said their farm was flooded, yet they still found a way to exhibit their livestock at the fair. “There’s a lot of resiliency in a farmer,” Troxler says.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about Hurricane Matthew and the State Fair.

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

Troxler: NC farmers hurting from Hurricane Matthew; NCDA&CS is helping

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 17:00

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler views flooded farms on Oct. 12. Hurricane Matthew damaged crops, farm buildings and equipment.

For too many of our farmers in Eastern North Carolina, fall has changed from a time of optimism to one of loss. First, Tropical Storm Hermine brushed the northeastern corner of the state, causing significant flooding and problems for farmers. Then, remnants of Tropical Storm Julia blanketed much of Eastern North Carolina. The final, devastating insult came from Hurricane Matthew, with its uncertain path, but sweeping reach and catastrophic flooding.

Flood waters are still high in many areas, which has made assessing ag losses and crop conditions difficult.

In surveying some of the hardest-hit areas of southeastern North Carolina by air last week, I can only say I have never seen anything like this. Never. I have seen a lot of storm damage as Commissioner of Agriculture, but this is catastrophic. Houses and barns were underwater, many roads washed away, and fields and crops submerged.

The magnitude of the damage is mind boggling. Basically, it looked like a lake from Smithfield to the coast.

Lots of crops were still in the field when the heavy rains hit our state. Farmers had been working as hard they could to harvest as much as they could before the wet weather rolled in. But there is only so much that can be done in the days leading up to a storm of this severity and scope, especially since previous storms kept soil too wet to work in.

Peanuts, cotton, soybeans and sweet potatoes were among the crops still in the fields. We also are concerned about livestock and poultry in flooded areas. To date, we have confirmed the loss of 1.9 million chickens and turkeys. Flooded and damaged roads have created challenges in moving feed and water to livestock operations, moving animals to market and moving fuel for generators.

Most in farming know that just because a crop is harvested doesn’t mean it is out of trouble. We have received reports of tobacco farms that lost power to curing barns, putting their crop at risk.

Many people will remember Hurricane Floyd and the damage it caused in Eastern North Carolina. It was referred to as a 500-year flood, something many of us expected we would only see once in a lifetime. I am not sure how this hurricane will go down in history, but I expect the agriculture community will be talking about it for a long, long time.

As a farmer, I know it is difficult to work all season, get to harvest time just to see the fruits of your labor rotting in the field, blown away or lost to power outages. We all know it’s a part of the risk of farming, but it is still like a hard blow to the gut.

When we have challenges in our community, we typically see a lot of neighbors helping neighbors. From what I can see following Hurricane Matthew, there are a lot of neighbors in the same boat. We are going to need outside help. We are working closely with our federal partners on assistance for farmers.

Already, we have requested and received approval for $6 million from FEMA to purchase sawdust and other wood products to be used in composting poultry carcasses, which will mitigate the potential public health risk. Composting is the preferred method of disposal because it reduces leeching of farm waste, reduces pest and disease issues and prevents odor issues. With our coordination, deliveries of these wood products to farms has begun.

NCDA&CS employees have been working feverishly to help farmers and others affected by Matthew. Our activities have included airlifting supplies to farms that are cut off from roads; providing guidance and resources for the sheltering of pets at emergency shelters in several affected counties; delivering food to support emergency feeding operations; and assessing damages to farms. In addition, about 150 members of our N.C. Forest Service have been dispatched to clear roads with chain saws, assist with sandbag operations to reinforce dams, and help with various local emergency operations.

I want to encourage farmers needing assistance to call our toll-free Ag Emergency Hotline at 1-866-645-9403. We have gotten more than 250 calls in the days following Matthew. Information and resources also are available at our website,

We will be continuing to assess agricultural damage and assist farmers and agribusiness however we can. Please keep our farm community and Eastern North Carolina in your prayers.

N.C. State Fair recipe: PB&J Pretzel Bars

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 17:59
The N.C. State Fair started Thursday, Oct. 13, and the N.C. Peanut Growers Association hosted the first specialty cooking competition of the Fair.

PB&J Pretzel Bars took first place in the recipe contest at the N.C. State Fair Thursday. Gail Fuller of Raleigh earned $200 for the winning recipe.

Each recipe had to put a creative spin on the childhood staples of peanut butter and jelly, using at least a half-cup of peanut butter. Recipes were judged on taste, creativity and ease of preparation.

For more recipes and information on N.C. State Fair cooking competitions check out the competitions website. The N.C. State Fair runs Oct. 13-23.

The winning recipe follows:

PB&J Pretzel Bars

 For the crust:

  • 2 cups pretzels, crushed into small bits
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

For the peanut butter layer:

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the jelly layer:

  • 1 – 12-ounce jar seedless raspberry jam (or your favorite jam or jelly)

For crumble topping:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pretzels, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed

Use fresh peanuts to garnish.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together crushed pretzels, graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Press into the bottom of prepared pan.  Bake 8-10 min.  Remove from oven and allow crust to cool.
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, beat together butter and peanut butter. Add in confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy and smooth. Spread over pretzel base and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar and pretzels. Cut butter into mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Once peanut butter is chilled, spread jam over top and sprinkle crumble on top.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crumble turns golden brown. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.  Place in refrigerator for 1 hour. Cut into bars, garnish with fresh peanuts and enjoy. Makes 16 servings.



News Roundup: Oct. 8-14

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 14:49
Each week 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.

  • “North Carolina farms engulfed by Matthew’s wake,” Politico: Conflicting reports emerged Wednesday of hog lagoons in hurricane-ravaged North Carolina leaking toxic manure into floodwaters, with environmentalists saying they’ve identified five sites that were either breached or overflowing. “There are horrific problems, and I use that term very carefully,” Rick Dove, a senior adviser for the Waterkeeper Alliance, told MA in a phone interview shortly after an observation flight. But neither the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services nor the Department of Environmental Quality could confirm the existence of breaches, which reportedly occurred east of I-95, close to the coast. DEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart, in a phone interview, said he’s received reports that some lagoons are inundated, but none of a full-on breach — the worst possible scenario — but added that it’s something he’s “monitoring very closely.” No breaches were reported by the state agriculture department, and the North Carolina Pork Council said in a statement that the “loss of animal life has been limited.” …
  • “North Carolina farmers face huge losses in wake of Hurricane Matthew,” Successful Farming: Hurricane Matthew swept by North Carolina on October 9, causing “impacts to agriculture that will be here for a while,” said North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services public affairs director Brian Long. It is too early to assess the total damage, but farmers across the state are hurting. When Hurricane Matthew hit, it dumped more rain than expected west of the forecast, drenching already saturated soils. Heavy rains in late September prevented farmers from harvesting crops before Matthew arrived. “Crops that were left in the ground during the storm, such as cotton, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and peanuts are in trouble,” said Long. “Typically, these crops are harvested right now, however most are still submerged, and farmers can’t harvest them quickly.” Farmers hope to salvage some crops left in the ground, but waters have been slow to recede, affecting crop quality. …
  • “Agriculture/Consumer Services responding to disaster,” Bladen Journal: The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is ready to dispatch inspectors and field forces to assess damage to the state’s agriculture industry and to ensure food is safe for consumers. Inspectors are waiting for flood waters to recede to safe levels before making site visits. In the meantime, they are contacting firms to determine which areas will be prioritized. “It’s important to get out into the field as soon as possible,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, who has done aerial surveys of the damage. “We want to help our farmers recover as quickly as possible and assist agribusinesses to resume normal operations as soon as feasible.” Here are some of the ways that NCDA&CS divisions are responding: …
  • “Flooded North Carolina farms are likely littered with drowned livestock,” The Washington Post: At least tens of thousands of chickens, hogs and other livestock are feared dead in floodwaters that washed over factory farms and towns in eastern North Carolina following Hurricane Matthew. Conservationist organizations and government agencies that dispatched surveillance helicopters over Cumberland and Robeson counties on Tuesday reported that waters from swollen rivers and creeks had reached at least a half-dozen poultry houses and possibly some hog houses at animal feed operations. Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said officials would work to quickly dispose of decaying animal carcasses that could contaminate waters and pose a potential public health threat. The state wants to avoid a repeat of the problems that followed Hurricane Floyd in 1999, when hundreds of bloated hog and chicken carcasses floated for days in floodwaters. …
  • “Farmers face extensive crop damage from hurricane, floods,” WBTV: North Carolina officials are worried that Hurricane Matthew and the subsequent floods have jeopardized crops in the state. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that peanuts, soybeans, and cotton are close to harvest, but are threatened by flooded farmland in eastern counties. Most tobacco was harvested before the hurricane hit, but some of the product is in danger of rotting in barns because power outages have caused disruptions to the curing process. State Department of Agriculture spokesman Brian Long says it is too early to determine how large any losses will be. He said yields were looking favorable this year before the hurricane hit. N.C. Peanut Growers Association CEO Bob Sutter says last year was a down year for peanut farmers and another bad season could be “devastating.”
  • “Farmers face extensive crop damage from hurricane and floods,” The News & Observer: Hurricane Matthew and floods that have come after are jeopardizing crops, pitting farmers against rising water to claim commodities worth millions.  Peanuts, soybeans, and cotton, still in the fields and close to harvest, are threatened by flooded farmland in eastern counties. Most tobacco was harvested before the hurricane hit, but some of the product is in danger of rotting in barns where curing has been disrupted by power outages.  It’s too early to know the extent of the losses, and the impacts are specific to crops and locations. In some areas, the rain and flooding compounded problems of soils already saturated in earlier storms.
  • “N.C. Department of Agriculture offers information hotline for farmers affected by Hurricane Matthew,” National Hog Farmer: The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has activated its toll-free hotline to help farmers affected by Hurricane Matthew connect with resources that can assist with recovery. Farmers who have an agricultural emergency can call 866-645-9403. “Hurricane Matthew has brought record-breaking floods and strong winds to a large part of North Carolina,” says Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We expect impacts to farms to include power outages, damage to crops and agricultural buildings and animal health emergencies. We are prepared to work with our state and local partners to help our agricultural community in the storm’s aftermath.” …
  • “NC State Fair, opening Thursday, offers respite for storm-weary state,” The News & Observer: The N.C. State Fair, North Carolina’s annual celebration of agriculture, opens Thursday as a pleasant diversion for a state that could use one. The ongoing flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew will be felt at the 11-day fair. People who might have entered a contest, exhibited a prized hog or simply brought their family to Raleigh for a day at the fair won’t be there because they’ve got more pressing problems. But for many, the games, rides and other attractions – both familiar and new – will help them forget their cares for a while. Here’s what you can expect: …

Hurricane Matthew: What does flooding mean for N.C.’s forests?

Wed, 10/12/2016 - 12:24

Hurricane Matthew dealt a record-breaking punch to North Carolina this past weekend. Waters continue to rise in parts of Eastern North Carolina, breaking flooding records and causing road closures and property damage. To many who were here then, the ongoing catastrophic damage is reminiscent of Hurricane Floyd, which rocked the state with impressive winds and floods 17 years ago. In fact, the flood records being broken this week were set by Hurricane Floyd along the Neuse River in Goldsboro in 1999.

Hurricane Matthew caused flooding in many parts of Eastern N.C. Image taken in Johnston County by W. Langston, NCFS.

When the floodwaters recede, the impacts to our cherished forested lands will undoubtedly be a concern. Not only have trees been lost to wind, but there is unease that the unobservable impacts from floodwaters will damage our trees.

While there is cause to be concerned, there is no need for hasty decisions to be made before we know how trees fare. The impacts of flood exposure are neither as evident nor as desperate as injury from wind damage. Many trees are capable of surviving short but severe floods. If trees remain standing and apparently healthy in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, landowners and natural resource professionals are urged to “wait and see” before preemptively harvesting or cutting trees.

In flooded trees, deprivation of oxygen to the root system is the biggest player in growth inhibition and injury. This can come from water-logged soils or the deposition of silt or sand that smother roots and/or stomata, the pores on plants responsible for gas exchange.

Generally speaking, several factors may play a role in the long-term health of trees following a flood:

  • TREE SPECIES – Susceptibility to flooding varies by species. Most bottomland hardwoods (e.g., green ash, eastern cottonwood, bald cypress, tupelo) are more tolerant to flooding and are thus not as likely to be impacted as upland forest trees.
  • LENGTH OF FLOODING – The longer tree roots are deprived of atmospheric oxygen, the more likely a tree will suffer. Long-term flooding can cause root death and decay.
  • DEPTH OF FLOODING – Tree injury is greater in plants with standing water over those with saturated soils. Likewise, damage is greater in trees with larger portions of their crown submerged. Tree species that are typically resistant to prolonged flooding die much more quickly if their foliage is covered or submerged.  Small trees and shrubs completely submerged may suffer from sediment-clogged stomata.
  • WATER CONTENT – Floodwaters with silt or pollutants (e.g., chemical runoff from agricultural fields, sewage) are more likely to damage plants and trees. Conversely, nutrient deposition may benefit some tree species.
  • TIME OF YEAR – Impacts are generally greater during the growing season because photosynthesis and metabolism are limited. Trees are at greatest risk to injury from flooding just following the first flush in the spring.

Recommendations to manage or salvage trees immediately are seldom necessary. Understanding the factors that play a role and keeping an eye on trees in the coming months and years will lead to sensible decisions regarding forest management.

Landowners and natural resource professional are encouraged to “wait and see” what lingering impacts of flooding will be on their trees before making drastic decisions regarding management. Image taken in Johnston County by W. Langston, NCFS.

Lessons Learned from Hurricane Floyd.  In 1999, Hurricane Floyd dumped nearly 20 inches of rain in parts of the Coastal Plain that had been saturated by Hurricane Dennis just a few weeks earlier.  The ensuring flooding disaster caused rivers to crest well above flood stage and inundated urban areas, agricultural land, and both bottomland and upland forests. Two years after Floyd, nearly 100 forested plots in the Coastal Plain were measured to document impacts of flooding to upland forests. Comparisons of the plots showed there were no immediate or dramatic effects of flooding related to tree mortality, leaning angle of living trees, or abundance of saplings after almost two years. There were, however, indications that crown conditions were somewhat poorer in the flooded areas, exhibited as higher crown dieback and lower crown density of flooded trees. While these crown observations were statistically significant, it was unknown whether they were biologically significant. For forest managers, this means that post-flood management decisions can be delayed and that periodic re-visits are needed to determine if stand conditions continue to deteriorate or if trees recover fully in the long run.

Today’s Topic: Troxler surveys agricultural damage from Hurricane Matthew

Wed, 10/12/2016 - 08:37

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

On Monday, Commissioner Troxler did an aerial survey of portions of Eastern North Carolina to view damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. He was amazed by the magnitude of the flooding and said there is “catastrophic damage to farming operations all across the East.”

Commissioner Troxler said the amount of water he saw was unbelievable and that recovery will take a long time.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about agricultural damage from Hurricane Matthew and some of the things the department will be focused on during recovery.

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

News Roundup: Oct. 1-7

Fri, 10/07/2016 - 16:25

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.

  • “Farm leaders rally for eastern North Carolina agriculture,” Sampson Independent: When it comes to agriculture in eastern North Carolina, farmers have a lot to smile about. One of those proud farmers is Sen. Brent Jackson and, while facing a large audience Thursday night, he showed it to people from west of Interstate 95. “For all of those who live west of 95, I want to welcome you to God’s country,” Jackson said while drawing chuckles and applause during the Agriculture Rally at the Duplin County Events Center. The first generation farmer from Sampson County was one of many supporters who addressed the successes and needs for agriculture in the region and throughout North Carolina. While showing support, Jackson continued and spoke about the labor of farmers and making ends meet. “We created the term ‘Get ‘Er Done” before it was ever popular, because you have to make it work,” Jackson said. “That’s what we have done as a legislative team.” Jackson added that agriculture is the lifeblood of the region, state and the United States and encouraged the audience to support lawmakers who support it. Before Jackson took the stage, Ed Emory, chairman of NC Farm Families, talked about the state’s biggest industry, which accounts for one-sixths of the income, $84 billion of the state’s gross product and 700,000 employees who work in food, forestry and fiber industries. He also mentioned that seven of the top 10 producers are in the eastern region, which affects the quality of life. …
  • “Monday Moment: Market has plenty of pumpkins to choose from,” Fayetteville Observer: Campbell Pleasant and her sister Emory browsed through hundreds of pumpkins at Carolina Farmers Market on Saturday afternoon. They couldn’t be too lopsided or small because these girls had big plans for their pumpkins. “We like to pick out round pumpkins cause they’re easier to carve,” said 9-year-old Campbell. “It gives you a lot more space.” The girls plan on enlisting the help of their parents to carve ghosts and skeletons into their jack-o-lanterns this year. The sisters’ mission to find the perfect pumpkins kicked off fall, despite the warm temperatures over the weekend. In fact, dozens of people stopped by the farmers market to select gourds, mums and hay bales. The market was bustling with grandparents and their grandchildren, boyfriends dragged there by Pinterest-inspired girlfriends and a husband who casually paced behind his wife, hands on his hips as she examined dozens of pumpkins. …
  • “At Bryan Series season opener, food writer Michael Pollan talks about farming,” Greensboro News & Record: Best-selling author Michael Pollan visited an actual farm — the one at Guilford College — on Friday afternoon. That evening, he kicked off the 2016-17 season of the Guilford College Bryan Series with a virtual tour of farms he has encountered during a long and successful career of writing about food, agriculture and the intersection of the human and natural worlds. Pollan, who’s also a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, spoke at the Greensboro Coliseum to an audience of close to 3,000 who knew him from “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” and his stories in the New York Times Magazine. The virtual farm tour, he told the audience, was to teach them “the fundamental way we get the calories out of the earth.” At a 35,000-acre potato farm in Idaho, Pollan met a farmer that used a pesticide so toxic that no one can venture into the fields for several days after spraying. The chemical eliminates a cosmetic defect in a certain type of russet potato that produces extra-long French fries. …
  • “State Ag ‘digs’ eatery for serving local products,” Stanly News & Press: Off the Square in Albemarle received state-wide recognition from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For its second annual “Dig into Local Best Menu NC” contest, the NCDA&CS chose five restaurants from North Carolina that demonstrated a conscious effort to provide customers with local agriculture products. “This contest is about more than simply identifying a menu item as ‘local,’” N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a press release. “The ‘Dig into Local Best Menu NC’ contest asked chefs to be more specific about where they source ingredients, and expand those options across their menus.” Off the Square, along with two restaurants in Charlotte, one in Raleigh and one in Winston-Salem, was awarded this distinction. “I think for us, it started with entering with the belief that we do live up to the values of what [the contest] was looking for,” said Off the Square owner, Michael Bogdanski. “When we got the announcement, we were so happy to get the award and on top of that, what absolutely floored us was that there were…all these big cities and then Off the Square in Albemarle. We’ve often talked about the restaurant as a big city restaurant in a small town.” …
  • “Women Butchers and Farmers Are Growing in Number, Especially in North Carolina,” Indy Week: A butchery demo by Kari Underly is like an improv comedy sketch. At Cane Creek Farm in Graham on Sunday, she rolls with the shouts and whispers from the crowd while sawing through a whole lamb. Underly, a master butcher from Chicago, is famed for honing her third-generation skills and earning a James Beard Award nomination for her 2012 book, The Art of Beef Cutting. She’s also credited with developing the flatiron steak. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association hired her in 2002 to figure out how to make the most of a cow to boost profits, although the man for whom she consulted tends to take credit for that “discovery.” Slicing out a flatiron cut in less than five seconds, Underly explains how, early in her career, men told her that she worked for them and that her ideas were theirs. She dangles the meat high above her head. “If all he’s got is this little piece of meat, then just take it,” Underly says, her wry smile exploding into a sardonic laugh. The women seated before her in rows of folding chairs—all meat-industry workers—clap and laugh at this all-too-familiar struggle, delighting in a shared jibe at the patriarchy. They’ve come to Orange County from all over the country to attend the third Women Working in the Meat Business Conference, sponsored by NC Choices in Raleigh. WWMB began as a small conference, in 2013, with around thirty attendees. This year’s gathering included seventy registered participants, with at least a dozen more speakers, consultants, and volunteers. It was the first of its kind, says coordinator Sarah Blacklin. It grew out of a women’s session at NC Choices’ annual Carolina Meat Conference. …
  • “Farmers ‘wide open’ getting crops out of fields,” Fayetteville Observer: Late Wednesday afternoon, a couple of mechanical cotton pickers were going at it, the airborne dust and filaments swirling above the machines as they harvested a field of cotton in the Vander community of Cumberland County. The harvesters had just finished a field closer to Cape Fear High School. Hurricane Matthew, and the potential havoc it might bring with strong winds and excessive rainfall, was on the mind of Cumberland County farmer Duane Smith. Smith owns the crop farm outfit, Smith Farms. …
  • “NC Biotech Center lands $1.87M grant for sorghum-biomass fuel study,” WRAL: The North Carolina Biotechnology Center, aided by a $1.87 million federal grant, has embarked on a three-year project to study the production of sorghum as biomass for fuel and high-value chemicals in the Mid-Atlantic region. The project, involving scientists at two land-grant universities and numerous industry partners, is enabled by the grant to NCBiotech’sBiotechnology Crop Commercialization Center (BCCC). The award was the largest of seven announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). It’s also the only award that didn’t go to a university – a testament to the specialized capabilities and personnel at the predominantly state-funded Biotech Center. “This three-year grant funding is a huge boost for advancing our ongoing partnership effort that will help farmers throughout the region add this important cash crop to their rotation plans, creating a ‘growforce’ for the development of a cellulose-to-biochemicals processing facility,” said Paul Ulanch, Ph.D., MBA, executive director of BCCC. …

In the Kitchen with Brian and Lisa: Fall Dish Favorites

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 10:48
WRAL reporter Brian Shrader and our own Lisa Prince feature seasonal recipes in their weekly Local Dish Cooking segment. It must be fall in North Carolina. This month Brian and Lisa feature recipes made with sweet potatoes, pecans, acorn squash and apples.  Find these, as well as local beef, pork and sausage, at your local farmers market.

The first recipe is a delicious fall dish combining N.C. apples with acorn squash and pecans. Lisa notes that this is a one-dish side to compliment any meat.

Acorn squash filled with baked apples

  • 4 Granny Smith apples, diced
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup raisins
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • 2 acorn squash

Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Use 2 tablespoons of softened butter and rub all over the flesh of the squash. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place squash cut side down and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Bake your apples at the same time. In a baking dish, combine apples, brown sugar, raisins and nutmeg. Dot the apple mixture with 4 tablespoons of butter. Cover with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes. Fill the squash with the baked apples and sprinkle with cinnamon and toasted pecans.

The next dish is a hearty and simple appetizer that can be made ahead of time and placed in the oven when your guests begin to arrive. Top these with some fresh chopped tomatoes and chives for garnish.

Beef Pinwheels

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1⁄2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 10 slices Muenster Cheese

In a frying pan on medium heat add oil and sauté peppers and onions, then add ground beef and cook until done. Drain off any grease.

Combine the horseradish and mayonnaise. Prepare a surface with flour and roll out the puff pastries. Divide the horseradish mixture and spread equal amounts on each sheet of pastry. Divide and top each pastry with the hamburger mixture and then top each pastry with cheese. Roll up fairly tight and cut into 1 inch pinwheels. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Cooler fall nights call for soup. Serve this soup with a tomato bruschetta and you have a delicious meal. You can also top it with a little shredded Parmesan cheese.

Two Bean Pork Soup

  • 2 pounds pork butt or pork tenderloin (about 4 cups cooked meat)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 1⁄2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Siracha
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 cups cooked white beans, divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cans low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

Season pork butt or tenderloin with salt and pepper and cook in a crock pot with ½ cup water or grill slowly until meat falls apart. Once cooked, reserve the juice/drippings and shred or chop the pork.

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and thyme; sauté for 6 minutes. Stir in red curry paste and Siracha; cook 1 more minute. Add 1 cup of stock, soy sauce and any pork stock or drippings, stirring until combined. Stir in remaining 3 cups of stock. Lightly mash 1 cup white beans. Add mashed beans, remaining 1 cup white beans, ¼ tsp. salt, bay leaves, and black beans to stock mixture in pan; bring to a high simmer. Reduce heat, and simmer at a low boil for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups of shredded pork and simmer 5 more minutes. Remove from heat; discard bay leaves. Stir in spinach until wilted. Enjoy!

Lisa suggests prepping the next dish the night before to have a quick and delicious meal that the whole family will to love. Use any pimento cheese or try one with jalapenos for a little kick.

Baked Pecan Pimento Cheese Chicken Tenders

  • 2 pounds chicken tenders
  • 1 1⁄2 cup easy to spread pimento cheese, we used pepper jack pimento cheese
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1⁄2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and add to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet and line with wax paper. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a food processor, combine pecans, panko breadcrumbs, salt and cayenne pepper, pulse until fine. Spread pimento cheese on each piece of chicken and roll in the pecan crumb mixture. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

This recipe comes from Lynn Rasmussen who brings in the pet of the day on WRAL each week. Lynn is a vegan and says her husband didn’t know it was Vegan sausage the first time she made it and he had three plates of it. Lisa suggests serving with a green vegetable or salad.

Bag ‘em Up NC Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 1 large N.C.-grown sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tube of Gimme Lean Vegan Sausage (in produce section) or traditional sausage
  • 1 medium apple, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle powder
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Medium zipper style plastic bag (or gallon size)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove sausage from package (slice at each end and long-wise down the center, to remove casing), chop the sausage in several pieces, take each piece and pinch off 1-inch-by-1-inch sizes. Take care not to go too big, because they won’t brown properly, or too small, because they can get too hard. In 9 by 11 casserole dish, scatter each piece of sausage so they’re in one layer. If you’re using vegan sausage, add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the sausage so each piece of sausage will brown nicely without sticking. Bake at 400 for about 20-30 minutes until desired browning is achieved.

While the sausage is browning, place the chopped sweet potato, onion and apple into the zip lock bag and shake to combine. Then add the garlic, maple syrup, spices, coconut oil, salt and pepper. Zip up the bag so there’s some air in it…then shake the bag gently. Be sure all the ingredients are evenly coated with maple syrup and spices. Pull the browning sausage from the oven and use a spatula to loosen any of the sausage pieces that may be stuck to the casserole dish. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Add the sweet potato mixture into the casserole dish, and stir to combine with the sausage. Make sure the ingredients aren’t too deep or they won’t brown well. Put the dish back into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes (longer if you like items more brown and apple softer, or shorter if you like a firmer potato and apple.


What’s hiding in the leaves?

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 11:28

Fall is here! It’s time to get excited about cooler temperatures, football and of course, the dreaded raking of leaves from all the beautiful trees surrounding your home. If you need motivation in the task, just think about the attractive trees, flowers and fruits you’ll see next spring and summer. It starts with raking those pesky leaves this fall.

Oak anthracnose (top) and ash anthracnose (bottom) cause spotting on tree leaves. Images by Joseph OBrien, USDA Forest Service,

While raking is a chore that beautifies your yard, it can also help the health and look of your trees for next spring as well. That’s because a tiny pathogen could be lurking in your leaves. Anthracnose is a common fungal disease that affects many different types of trees. The disease begins when a microscopic fungal spore lands on moist leaves,  killing the surrounding area. This causes spotting on leaves, rotten spots on fruit and cankers on small stems. Typically, this will not kill a tree, but it does cause concern for homeowners because of the unsightly look of the tree during the growing season.

Because this year has seen plenty of rain in portions of our state, trees may be at a greater risk for anthracnose going into next year. These spores thrive in cool, moist environments like we saw this spring. One of the best defenses you have to rake the leaves away from your trees this fall. The fungal spores are cold-hardy and like to hide in the previous years’ leaves. When temperatures warm, they emerge and infect the new leaves in the spring.

Other management strategies for prevention include pruning dead or infected branches from the trees. (Just make sure to clean your tools with alcohol between clippings!) Create good air circulation through pruning of excessive branches which decreases the amount of time leaves remain wet after rainfall. Maintain a vigorous growth cycle through yearly fertilization and weekly watering during periods of drought.

Happy raking!

Today’s Topic: NCDA&CS gets $5.3 million FDA grant for produce safety

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 08:01

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

The NCDA&CS recently received a grant from the Food and Drug Administration to enhance produce safety. The department’s Food and Drug Protection Division received a five-year, $5.3 million grant from FDA. The funding will be used to ensure that North Carolina farmers and producers are ready to comply with the stricter production and harvest requirements of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act.

This funding will help the department support farmers and producers get ready to meet these new requirements. Commissioner Troxler is a believer in educating before regulating, and this funding will support training opportunities, on-farm readiness reviews, and other education and outreach opportunities. This funding allows the department to develop its inspection programs to meet the specific growing and harvesting needs of N.C. farmers.

The funding will also support the development of infrastructure at agricultural research stations across the state for training and outreach. Funds will help upgrade classrooms and provide hands-on indoor and outdoor demonstration areas.

The goal is to provide training in best practices, from planting to post-harvest. These include demonstrations of growing, harvesting, packing and holding produce.

The department will also partner with N.C. State University for on-farm readiness reviews. These two-day reviews will utilize N.C. State’s produce specialists, as well as NCDA&CS staff, and provide direct feedback to farmers on produce safety implementation efforts.

FDA awarded a total of about $22 million to 42 states to help implement the federal produce safety rule. The rule, which the FDA finalized in November 2015, establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about this produce safety effort.

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

News Roundup: Sept. 24-30

Fri, 09/30/2016 - 11:37
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.

  • “NC Ag Commissioner Tells WHKP News That More Improvements, Parking and Resurfacing Are Coming to WNC Ag Center,” WHKP: (Audio) A week after a very successful 2016 WNC Mountain State Fair closed at the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher, North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler told WHKP News that more improvements are coming to the facility on the busy Highway 280 across from the Asheville Regional Airport. With improvements already underway, and in some cases already completed, to the arenas and other parts of the Ag Center, Troxler told WHKP News, ion an exclusive interview, that parking is the big issue at the Ag Center. The venue needs another one thousand parking spaces, said Troxler, and immediate steps are being taken for 500 more. He said the Ag Center, which provides a large agricultural and economic boost to Western North Carolina, will be working with the airport and other entities in the area to make more parking for the Ag Center available.
  • “McCrory gets first-hand look at damage,” Greenville Daily Reflector: Gov. Pat McCrory visited Bertie County on Monday to get a first-hand look at the devastating effects of flooding following more than a dozen inches of rain last week. “You can see it, but you really have to experience it,” McCrory said. The governor was joined by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, Rep. Howard J. Hunter and a host of others from the state capital as they toured portions of Bertie County most affected by the flooding. For Windsor, the county seat, it is the third major flood event since 1999, and many of its businesses and individuals find themselves yet again recovering from a natural disaster. …
  • “Carolina’s Tobacco Road: Looking at the Future of the Industry in North Carolina,” Time Warner Cable News: (Video) For generations, tobacco helped breathe life into North Carolina’s economy but with changing times, came changing fortunes for one of the state’s biggest cash crops. In our special series Carolina’s Tobacco Road we take an in depth look at the past, present and future of tobacco in North Carolina, just as farmers get ready to wrap up another growing season.
  • “New TV series featuring NC vineyards to premiere Oct. 2 on UNC-TV,” Salisbury Post: Settle back, relax and get ready to take some fun trips exploring remarkable wines and vineyards from the mountains to the coast of North Carolina. This brand new 10-episode, half-hour television series kicks off on UNC-TV Sunday, Oct. 2, at 1:30 p.m. In each episode of “From the Vineyard in North Carolina,” host Lisa Prince visits two vineyards or wineries to take you on a journey capturing the whole experience from grape to glass. Prince visits with the cultivators of the vine and the artisans of winemaking to learn more about the grapes they are growing and the wine they are crafting. At the end of each episode, Prince is joined by Henk Schuitemaker, certified wine sommelier at the legendary Angus Barn in Raleigh, to talk about and taste North Carolina wines. “From the Vineyard” is a natural extension of its sister series, “Flavor, NC,” also hosted by Prince. …
  • “Watch out pumpkin, sweet potato beers are gaining ground,” Charlotte Observer: Pumpkin beers are the best-selling seasonal beer in the United States, but sweet potato beers are gaining ground as an autumnal alternative. The root vegetable is perhaps a more fitting choice in North Carolina, given its status as the top sweet potato-producing state in the nation since 1971. More than half of the country’s sweet potatoes come from right here in the Tar Heel state. …
  • “Stopping Foodborne Illnesses In Their Tracks,” NCSU Veterinary Medicine News: You’d hardly give it a second glance, this new equipment tucked away in the back of a lab on the fourth floor of the Research Building at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), but it has the power to help the millions affected by foodborne illnesses each year. About the size of an old-school Mac computer, the MiSeq System easily blends in with its surroundings in the lab of Siddhartha “Sid” Thakur, an associate professor of molecular epidemiology at the CVM. It looks similar to any lab machine found across campus. But it is here where hundreds of isolated pathogens will undergo whole genome sequencing and fed into a sharable worldwide database. The goal: identifying the pathogen early and preventing it from spreading. It’s called GenomeTrakr. And the CVM is the only place you’ll find it in North Carolina. …
  • “Central North Carolina Sweet Potato Crop a Bin Buster,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) The tobacco crop in central North Carolina started out being one of the best many growers had had the opportunity to be associated with. Here, late in the season, it’s become plagued with so many problems, producers are just ready for it to be gone and be over. Area Agronomist for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Don Nicholson: “I think that’s a good assessment there. A lot of leaf diseases have shown up in the last two or three weeks, and tobacco that’s left in the field, it’s really taken a toll on some of it, I’m not going to say all of it, but there’s a toll being taken. At one point, through my part of the world, we had one of the better crops I’ve ever seen in the field, and through heat and drought conditions back a month ago, to big rainfalls from the tropical systems, and the crop has become a challenge and the leaf is suffering. So, hopefully the farmers will make a good stab at getting the crop out and having good quality, but it’s getting to be more of a challenge every day.” There is one really nice bright spot in Nicholson’s region, that’s sweet potatoes: “Our sweet potato crop coming out of the field looks great, yielding great. I can’t speak for other parts of the state, but it seems to be a jam up crop in my region, it’s looking really good right now. and we’ve had a really good corn crop on top of that, too. I’m not saying we’re going to hit Dr. Heiniger’s magic number of 150 bu/a but if we don’t hit it, it ought to scare it a little bit, anyhow. But, most of the corn, it’s out of the field and some really good yields, I’ve heard. Really good looking corn in the field.” …
  • “Bollworm problems in North Carolina cotton due to more corn acres,” Southeast Farm Press: Bollworms presented real headaches to North Carolina farmers who grew Bt cotton this year due in part to a big increase in corn acreage in the state. “Corn is a big producer of bollworms for us in cotton,” said North Carolina State University Extension Entomologist Dominic Reisig at the Cotton Field Day held Sept. 15 in Rocky Mount. This year, 940,000 acres of corn were planted in North Carolina, up from 730,000 acres last year while only 280,000 acres of cotton were planted in the state, down from 385,000 acres last year. Reisig said a lot of bollworms moved from corn to cotton this year. Published replicated research shows that in timely planted corn, bollworms are not a problem in terms of corn yield. “But it is a problem for us in cotton. We think that those insects coming off Bt corn are going to be better adapted to survive in Bt cotton,” Reisig said. “In the future as we see this resistance expand, as we know it will, it’s going to be important to know what kind of pest pressure we have in the system and if we’re going to need to spray the cotton,” Reisig added. …
  • “Bitten by the bug: New tech-driven cricket farm for WNC,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Bitwater Farms isn’t much to look at. If it weren’t for the cricket mural on one shipping container, retrofitted as a workshop, there’s little to indicate that what’s being built and raised on this rural piece of property in Mills River holds such potential for change in agriculture. So far Bitwater Farms has largely been operating quietly, save for the undeniable chirp of crickets. And then there’s that smell. “The most flattering description and I think the most accurate is that it smells a little bit like a mustier corn nut,” said Sean McDonald, co-founder of Bitwater Farms with Kasey Mohsen. The startup blends agriculture and technology to build high-production cricket habitats and create a new food source for people and livestock. That means locally raised chickens could soon dine on locally raised food. And human diners could soon feast on local-cricket tacos. The high-protein insects are a relatively untapped nutritional powerhouse in this corner of the planet. Bitwater’s cricket habitats range in size from smaller than a tool shed to a grand, patent-pending masterpiece appropriate for larger-scale farms. The latter will be the biggest moneymaker for this data-driven farm and could revolutionize sustainable farming, bringing tens of millions to the area over the next decade. Besides the technical know-how of the self-proclaimed data geeks who mainly run the show at Bitwater, it’s all being fueled by spent brewers’ grain, an abundant resource in Western North Carolina with its more than 60 breweries. …

Got to BE NC Recipes: Anne’s Dumplings EZ Chicken Pastry

Thu, 09/29/2016 - 07:16
September is National Chicken Month. In a state that ranks second in the nation in broilers, we have a lot to, umm, cluck about. Broilers alone account for more than 30 percent of our farm cash receipts.

With fall weather and cooler nights upon us, it’s a perfect time to make the quintessential comfort dish – chicken and pastry (or chicken slick depending on what part of the state you live). Many old-timers and those who make chicken pastry regularly would tell you the frozen pastry that comes in the red and yellow box is one of the key ingredients to their chicken pastry.

Anne’s pastry was the first product made by Harvest Time Foods in 1981. When Anne Grimes, her husband and son started the company, they operated out of their garage. Now the Ayden company features a lot more than frozen pastry, including an extensive gluten-free line of food products. We featured them last year and their long-time involvement with the Goodness Grows marketing program.

If you want to try your hand at some delicious chicken pastry, check out the recipe below, provided by Anne.

E-Z Chicken n Dumplings

  • 1 24-ounce-package Anne’s Flat Dumpling Strips
  • 3-5 tablespoons Anne’s Chicken Base
  • 1 13-15 ounces canned cooked chicken
  • 4 quarts water salted with 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil in a large 6-quart stock pot. Add the chicken base. Remove the frozen dumplings from freezer while water is heating. Separate each layer of dumplings as needed and drop 8-10 in boiling broth, stirring under as added. As broth comes back to a boil, add more dumplings, stirring after each addition until all are in boiling broth. Cook at a full boil about 10-12 minutes or until desired tenderness is achieved Add cooked chicken and boil 2 more minutes. Check to see if more salt is needed and add pepper as desired.

Remove from heat, cover and wait 20-30 minutes before serving. For old fashioned chicken and dumplings, cook a whole chicken until tender and use the broth to cook dumplings making sure you add enough water to have at least 4 quarts of liquid to cook a box of dumplings. To enhance the flavor, add some Anne’s Chicken Base. Remove meat from bones and add to cooked dumplings. Follow rest of recipe above.

Today’s Topic: Five NC restaurants named winners of ‘Dig Into Local’ contest

Tue, 09/27/2016 - 11:34

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

Five North Carolina restaurants were recognized recently for featuring locally grown, raised, caught and made products during the second annual “Dig Into Local Best Menu NC” contest.

Menus were judged on a variety of criteria, including clear identification of North Carolina agricultural products, farms and manufacturers; highlighting seasonal produce; and identifying items with unique regional connections. Judges also looked at the offering of North Carolina wine, beer and spirit selections on the menu; the inclusion of multiple courses featuring North Carolina ingredients; and the balance of North Carolina products that were offered across protein, grain and produce categories.

Five restaurants were recognized for having outstanding menus based on those criteria. Each will receive an award to display. The winning restaurants were Bonterra and Heirloom in Charlotte, Graze in Winston-Salem, Off the Square in Albemarle and Sitti in Raleigh.

The “Dig Into Local Best Menu NC” contest is one of many promotional activities of the NCDA&CS Marketing Division. To learn more, visit

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about the “Dig Into Local Best Menu NC” contest.

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

Got to Be NC makes it easy to find local at NC Seafood Festival

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 14:14

Got to Be NC Seafood flags mark food vendors using locally caught seafood at the N.C. Seafood Festival in Morehead City.

This weekend, seafood lovers will flock to Morehead City for the annual N.C. Seafood Festival. The three-day event features live music, cooking demonstrations, and of course, a lot of seafood. One of the goals of the Seafood Festival is to drive awareness about the state’s commercial fishing industry. That’s why Got to Be NC is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the 2016 festival.

In fact, Got to Be NC has been presenting sponsor for the past few years. Together, the department’s marketing staff and festival organizers have made it even easier to identify and support vendors using N.C. seafood at the event.

John Aydlett, a seafood marketing specialist with the department, says it’s important to understand the impact of local fishermen on the state’s economy.

“Seafood is a $130 million business in North Carolina,” said Aydlett. “More importantly, it has been the livelihood for generations of fishermen along our coastal communities.”

Here are some of the things you can do to support local seafood at the N.C. Seafood Festival:

  1. Visit the “Cooking with the Chefs” tent.
    On Saturday, local chefs will prepare original dishes using N.C. seafood. Guests can learn how to prepare each type of fish and sample the finished products. Sunday, the tent will feature the Food Lion Cooking Challenge, where chefs will face off in N.C. seafood cooking competitions for a chance to win the coveted Chefs Hat award.
  2. Look for the Got To Be NC Seafood flag.
    Festival organizers do not require all food vendors to use N.C. seafood, but the ones that do will be displaying this beautiful flag proudly. Look for it and you’ll know you’re getting a quality product caught in North Carolina waters.
  3. Show some love on social.
    If you love N.C. seafood, let your friends know on social. Follow the Seafood Festival on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Use the hashtag #NCSEAFOODFEST. And, don’t forget to tag the department on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

The N.C. Seafood Festival opens at noon Friday and runs until 5 p.m. Sunday. More information is available at

News Roundup: Sept. 17-23

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 11:49

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.

  • “Crop science execs defend mergers; NC Senator cites regulation as driving deals,” WRAL: Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the deal would lead to greater investments in technology that could help American farmers. Monsanto, the American seed and weed-killer, and Bayer, the German medicine and farm-chemical maker, responded to concerns from Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. …
  • “How an heirloom watermelon breathed new life into a family farm,” Winston-Salem Journal: A thriving food community requires a lot of support, not just from chefs and consumers, but also from farmers and other food producers. Increasingly, farmers are not only the growers of the raw ingredients, but also the producers of value-added products that are made with the food they grow. Take Nat Bradford, who was at Willow’s Bistro in Winston-Salem on Sunday evening to talk about his family farm in Sumter County, S.C. Chef Travis Myers of Willow’s invited a handful of chefs, farmers and others to Willow’s to meet Bradford and taste the heirloom Bradford watermelon. …
  • “Soybean Producers Grateful for Rain,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Many soybean farmers have been hoping for rain, and now they have it. but, it’s time for it to stop, and the sun to come out says Dr. Jim Dunphy, NC State Extension Soybean Specialist: “I think most of the state is seeing the rain as welcome rain, with the exception of the far east coast. Some of these counties had already gotten a bunch of rain this month didn’t need any more, but the vast majority of the state is going to welcome the first inch or two, but then they want sunshine, they don’t want it to stay rainy. We went through that last year, and that didn’t work very well, so we’d like to see the sun come out for a few days.” When we last heard from Dr. Dunphy, about three weeks ago, soybeans were very much in a holding pattern: “Most of them, from Raleigh, east, got some moisture, came back out of it, and went back to making soybeans. West of Raleigh, much of that area stayed dry, and while that’s not the largest soybean producing area, collectively, it’s still a third or a fourth of our state’s soybean production, so it’s still a significant chunk of beans. And they stayed dry, but if they can get some moisture from this tropical storm dallying around, they’ll take it.” …
  • “Are farms the new tennis courts? Olivette opts for agrihood,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Twisted, ridgetop crabapple trees, a turkey feather lodged in the leaves, cascading creeks, meadows of goldenrod and pokeberry, a broad-winged bird dipping low over the French Broad — all these things make it easy to imagine what developer Scott Austin envisions for this property. If he’s able to populate the Olivette community — which he sees as far more than a suburban neighborhood — kids will weave through the crabapples and wade in the creek, and about 300 homes and a private school will look out on the 350 acres of farmland, meadows and woods between Woodfin and Macedonia on the west bank of the French Broad. …
  • “Ceviche’s wins Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series,” Wilmington News-Star: Two of North Carolina’s favorite ingredients — ham and sweet potatoes — were the focus of the Wilmington finale of the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series held Thursday at Wrightsville Beach’s Bluewater Waterfront Grill. Two teams of chefs offered three dishes each, one using traditional Southern interpretations and another adding twists with international flair. Team Ceviche’s earned a one-and-a-half-point win with a soft egg-and-hash salad and a sweet potato turnover with lavender whipped cream and honey gastrique. …
  • “Daily Ag Summary: Summer in NC Fourth Hottest on Record,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Shorter days and the emergence of pumpkin spice everything are sure signals that we’re entering the fall. In fact, meteorological fall began on September 1, but you wouldn’t have known it from the thermometer readings alone. Indeed, North Carolina’s summer was perhaps best defined by the persistence of above-normal temperatures that stretched from June through early September. This summer was a hot one, and the numbers support that statement. The statewide average temperature of 77.69°F ranks as the 4th-warmest summer on record since 1895. But, North Carolina wasn’t alone, most of the continental US, including the entire eastern seaboard had above normal average temperatures this summer. Several cities in the Tar Heel State recorded their hottest summer on record, including Asheville, Tryon and Monroe. …

Tar Heel Kitchen: Basic Apple Pie

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 11:16
Since 1926, the Agricultural Review has been a free newspaper published by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For many years, The Tar Heel Kitchen was a featured column written by the department’s marketing home economist.

These recipes tended to be seasonal with just a handful of ingredients. We thought these recipes needed to be shared in a new format. The Tar Heel Kitchen post will unearth a few of these timeless recipes each month. This week we are revisiting the September 15, 1987, issue and a classic recipe for apple pie.
Apples signal the onset of fall, and what’s a more delicious way to enjoy them than in apple pie? Your local farmers market has plenty of varieties to choose from. This recipe was made with Pink Lady apples, but Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and Crispin/Mutsu are other great options commonly grown in North Carolina.

This recipe was printed as a “basic” pie for contestants to embellish for the N.C. State Fair Apple Pie Contest, but we think it already has all the elements the contest rules said the winning pie needed: flavorful filling, textured crust, attractive appearance and, due to the lemon juice, originality.

Enjoy this recipe that celebrates N.C. apples.

Basic Apple Pie

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 cups apples, cored, sliced and pared
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (Test kitchen tip: The pie filling came out a little watery, so perhaps cut the amount of juice in half.)
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 2 9-inch unbaked pastry pie crusts

Prepare favorite pastry for double crust 9-inch pie.

To make filling: Mix together dry ingredients. Toss with fruit and lemon juice, if used. Turn into pastry–lined pie plate. Dot with margarine. Make several slits in top crust. Cover pie with pastry; seal and flute edge.

Bake in 425 degrees F oven 50 minutes, or until crust is browned. (Test kitchen tip: Keep an eye on your pie. Ours was done in just 30 minutes baked at 410 degrees F.)

BugFest visitors hear the buzz about firewood

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 10:24

Visitors to BugFest learned about the risk to our trees if untreated firewood is transported (top). Each year, approximately 35,000 visitors attend the festival (bottom; photo by N.C. Natural Sciences, Twitter).

On Sept. 17, 30,000 visitors swarmed BugFest, an annual event at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. While many are adventurous and take a bite out of dishes with six-legged ingredients, the N.C. Forest Service and Plant Industry Division encouraged festival-goers not to take risks when it comes to firewood.

You see, firewood is the perfect ‘Trojan Horse’ for invasive pests. Many insects and diseases are able to hitchhike in or on firewood. If firewood is transported the new areas, then the pests are, too. It is through this passive dispersal that many of these non-native pests got here in the first place (e.g., hiding with the wood of shipping materials, such as pallets).

The “Bad Bugs of the Forest” exhibit at BugFest warned visitors of this potential, encouraging them to either use locally sourced or heat-treated firewood. Visitors learned about the tree-killing invasives found in North Carolina, then tested their knowledge with a Plinko-style game.

In case you missed the action, the “Bad Bugs of the Forest” will be exhibited in the N.C. Forest Service tent at the N.C. State Fair next month! Come test your knowledge!

Today’s Topic: Yields for corn, cotton increase in latest USDA crop report

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 08:23

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

The state forecast for corn, cotton and peanuts continues to look strong, according to the latest USDA crop report. All three crops have seen their yield forecasts increase over the past month.

The latest forecast predicts a corn yield of 138 bushels per acre. That’s up 8 bushels since August, and it’s just 4 bushels less than the record set in 2013. Total corn production is forecast to be almost 130 million bushels, which is 57 percent more than last year’s total.

The cotton yield also is rising. The latest forecast calls for 960 pounds per acre, which is almost 250 pounds more than last year’s yield. Production is projected to total 550,000 bales, which is 4 percent above last year, even though farmers are harvesting fewer acres of cotton this year.

Peanuts are looking good, too. The yield forecast is 3,900 pounds per acre, and total production is projected to be 394 million pounds, 32 percent above last year.

Here are some other numbers from the report:

  • Soybean yields are projected to be 35 bushels an acre, up 3 bushels from last year. But total production is projected to be 2 percent lower because the number of acres is lower this year.
  • Flue-cured tobacco yields are projected to be 2,200 pounds per acre, a drop of 200 pounds from last year. Total production is expected to be 363, million pounds, 4 percent lower than last year.

Listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about the September crop report, plus impacts from Tropical Storm Hermine.

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.