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Today’s Topic: Corn growers to vote on assessment Feb. 22

13 hours 12 min ago

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

North Carolina corn growers will vote Feb. 22 on a six-year continuation of their commodity assessment program. The Board of Directors of the Corn Growers Association of North Carolina is asking farmers to assess themselves at a rate of 1.25 cents per bushel on all corn marketed in North Carolina.

The association is involved in the following areas: international and domestic marketing; research and education; grants to Cooperative Extension offices; and legislation that will be helpful to corn growers and other farmers.

Growers may vote at local Cooperative Extension offices from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. All farmers currently engaged in the production of corn — including tenants, sharecroppers or other persons sharing in the production of corn or income from corn — are eligible to vote. A two-thirds favorable vote is required to approve the referendum.

If approved, the assessment would be collected by the first handler or purchaser of the commodity from the producer and submitted to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which would forward the proceeds to the association.

Click on the link below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about this referendum.

Today’s Topic for Feb. 21

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

Seven NCDA&CS employees take part in 2017 Tobacco Short Course

Mon, 02/20/2017 - 09:15

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, left, and NCSU CALS Dean Richard Linton, right, stand with NCDA&CS employees who completed the 2017 N.C. State Tobacco Short Course.

Seven NCDA&CS staff members participated in the 2017 N.C. State Tobacco Short Course in Raleigh.

The following NCDA&CS employees took part in the course:

  • Josh Mays, regional agronomist for Anson, Guilford, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph and Richmond counties;
  • Carla Pugh, regional agronomist for Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Gates, Hertford, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties;
  • Superintendent Phillip Winslow, research operations manager Evan Taylor and research specialist Thomas Stroud, all of the Cunningham/Lower Coastal Plain Research Station in Kinston;
  • Alex Addison, research technician at the Upper Mountain Research Station in Laurel Springs;
  • John Erick Freeman, research specialist at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville.

They took part in the course with 39 other tobacco farmers and industry representatives. The weeklong course, which coincided with the Southern Farm Show and the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina’s annual meeting, helps students better understand all facets of tobacco production and marketing.

Classroom studies covered everything from greenhouse production of seedling plants to curing leaf ready for market. Participants also spent a day participating in a flue-cured tobacco grading session.

“Since the tobacco industry faces continuous change, we need to make sure our younger farmers, their advisers and other allied industry representatives are able to focus on how to attain efficient quality tobacco production,” says Dr. Bill Collins, retired director of N.C. State Tobacco Extension programs and co-director of the Tobacco Short Course.

Instructors in the short course included N.C. State Extension specialists in agricultural economics, agronomy, biological and agricultural engineering, crop science, entomology and plant pathology. Bobby Wellons, tobacco training specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, taught the tobacco grading session.

The 2017 N.C. State Tobacco Short Course was conducted by the North Carolina Tobacco Foundation, in partnership with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University. The program was funded by the N.C. Tobacco Research Commission and the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina.

-Information and photo courtesy of Jim Haskins, Agribusiness Communications Group

News Roundup: Feb. 11-17

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 11:48

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.

  • “Warning bells issued for nematodes in Carolinas,” Southeast Farm Press: Both Clemson University and North Carolina State University are issuing warning bells for nematodes in the Carolinas. The nematode issue was front in center at both Clemson’s corn and soybean production meeting in Dillon, S.C., Feb. 8 and at N.C. State’s Road Show production meeting the following day in Plymouth, N.C. A concern in both states is the Southern root knot nematode and the soybean cyst nematode. Both John Mueller, Clemson Extension plant pathologist and director of the Edisto Research and Education Center, and Lindsey Thiessen, N.C. State Extension entomology and plant pathology specialist, said variety selection is job one for nematode control. Both specialists encouraged farmers to turn to soybean varieties that offer nematode resistance. “We need to do a really good job of choosing varieties, and you need to identify the highest probability problems that you have, whether it’s a fungal disease or a nematode,” said Mueller at the Clemson meeting. “For soybeans, you need to find the variety that is resistant to the nematode species that you think you have such as root knot nematode resistant or soybean cyst nematode to be successful.” N.C. State’s Thiessen echoed Mueller’s advice, emphasizing host resistance as the best defense against soybean cyst nematode because it is the cheapest thing farmers can do. “Pick a variety that has resistance to soybean cyst,” she said at the Plymouth meeting. Mueller and Thiessen expect root knot nematodes to be a bigger pest this year and in the future. The challenge is there are many different species of root knot nematodes with Thiessen pointing to at least five known species in North Carolina. …
  • “The 2017 Local Farming Season is Getting Underway,” WHKP Radio: Henderson county apple grower Kenny Barnwell told WHKP News “I am concerned about having adequate labor every year.” Barnwell spoke with WHKP News about two major issues facing local agriculture—unpredictable and possibly devastating spring weather, and having adequate farm labor. How the Trump administration will handle the immigration issue and un-documented workers, mostly from Mexico, who plant, care for, and then harvest every local crop from berries to apples remains unclear. And growers are always concerned about ICE, or the Immigration Customs Enforcement people, swooping in on their fields and sending their labor back across the border. Vegetable grower Kirby Johnson, who grows here in the summer and in Florida in the winter, says concern over labor is why he cut back last years, and will be cutting back some this year, on the total acres he’s farming. Weather is the other big issue facing local growers. Kenny Barnwell, who grows both apples and peaches, says if the temperatures get too warm and the young apples begin to “bud” too soon, a late season frost or freeze can kill an entire crop. Normally, says Barnwell, local apple trees will begin to bloom by the first of April and will be in full bloom sometime in the first two weeks of April. A value of $40 million was placed on Henderson County’s apple crop last years…which was described as “…not a full crop, but a good crop.” …
  • “New drought report says recovery has been overstated for WNC,” WLOS: In fall 2016, the drought monitor was covered in light and dark red, indicating extreme and exceptional drought conditions. Now, the monitor shows only four Western North Carolina counties left in the severe category. A new drought report from the National Weather Service mentions those higher-end categories were too hastily assigned, and our drought improvement is not as drastic as it appears. An excerpt reads, “In early December, a reassessment of impacts across the region and a comparison to the worst drought in recent record (2007-2009) suggested that the expansion to D3 and D4 occurred too quickly this autumn.” D3 is the category for extreme drought, D4 for exceptional. The report emphasizes how groundwater, streams and reservoirs still desperately need more water going into the upcoming growing season, when demand for water goes back up. …
  • “Survey shows major support to lift cap on craft beer distribution,” Carolina Journal: North Carolinians have an insatiable taste for craft beers, and they have little tolerance for lawmakers who want to tamper with how they get their stouts and IPAs. A survey of North Carolina voters bears that out. Brewers around the state, some 180 of them, simply want what’s fair. One goal of — a campaign by brewers to even the proverbial playing field with wholesalers — is, at least for now, eliminating a state law requiring brewers to procure a distributor once their beer output reaches 25,000 barrels. The survey of 800 likely voters, prepared for Craft Freedom by Strategic Partners Solutions and overseen by Republican political consultant Paul Shumaker, finds the more voters learn about the impact of the production cap on North Carolina breweries, support for the production cap nearly completely vanishes. That goes for people who voted for President Trump or his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. “When the voters who favor the production cap learn that producers lose their brand and marketing rights,” says the survey, “support for the cap diminishes to 1.6 percent” — two Republicans, three unaffiliated voters and eight Democrats from the 800 voters surveyed. Voters want the General Assembly to enact regulatory changes to help the microbrewery industry grow in North Carolina, the survey says. “Removing the production cap is not an issue about alcohol or beer — it is an issue about fairness and free-market principles. It is an issue overwhelming supported by Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters.” …
  • “Daily Ag Summary: Abnormally Dry Conditions Expand in North Carolina,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Abnormally dry conditions re-appeared in a big way this week as reported in the Drought Monitor released by the Drought Mitigation Center for conditions through Tuesday morning. Just over 70% of the state is now reporting abnormally dry conditions, compared to just over 27% the previous week. Other categories of drought remained the same. The area of abnormally dry conditions encompasses all of North Carolina’s Piedmont region from the Virginia border to Columbus and Brunswick Counties. The area around and just north of the city of Charlotte, as well as the Coastal Plain remain drought free. The data reported does not include the widespread rain on Wednesday. …
  • “Farm Bill Discussions Underway,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Farm conditions are not yet ripe for a 1980s-style farm ‘bust,’ but ag economists told a House Agriculture pre-farm bill hearing income and debt continue to deteriorate and changes may be needed in the next farm bill to prevent a crisis. Holes in the 2014 farm safety net for dairy and cotton and predatory trade practices by China, were just some of the urgent problems highlighted by farm economists and lawmakers. USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson spoke on farm income: “Farm income is expected to remain relatively flat in 2017. Credit availability continues to tighten, but continued resilience in the farm sector is expected. Reversing the direction of the last two years, we do expect to see net cash income to rise slightly from 2016, but however as you mentioned, net farm income, a broader measure is forecast to fall slightly.” Assistant Vice-President at the Omaha branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Nathan Kauffman, on the scope of the down economy, says: “A farm crisis on the scale of the 1980’s still does not appear immanent, as farm loan delinquency rates remain low, and credit availability generally remains strong. But, if farm income remains persistently low, if farm land values continues to decline, and if debt continues to rise, all of which have been trends in recent years, it is possible that key indicators of financial stress, such as debt to asset ratios could rise to levels similar to the 1980’s over a longer time horizon.” …
  • “Fisheries commission approves petition to limit near-shore shrimping,” Wilmington Star-News: The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Thursday approved a petition for rulemaking that could ultimately limit how shrimpers operate up and down the North Carolina coast in an effort to save the young fish captured in their bycatch. At the close of the four-hour hearing at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside, the commission voted to approve the N.C. Wildlife Federation’s petition 5-3, with one member abstaining. The board was cleanly split, with each of the three commercial fishing industry representatives voting against the proposal, which could ultimately limit shrimping to three days on the Intracoastal Waterway and other estuaries and four days on the ocean up to 3 miles out, among other proposals. Federation officials explained earlier in the meeting the proposed rules are designed to protect the juvenile croaker, spot and weakfish that depend on the estuaries and near-shore waters to mature from being caught up in shrimp trawlers’ bycatch. “We contend that these larger and older juveniles which lose protection once they leave the confines of that nursery habitat and are large enough to have survived the extraordinary mortality rate of the nursery areas should be afforded additional protection to allow them to grow, mature and, most importantly, spawn,” said Louis Daniel, a former director of N.C.’s Division of Marine Fisheries who helped prepare the Wildlife Federation’s report. …
  • “You’re about to see a big change to the sell-by dates on food,” The Washington Post: The majority of Americans have no clear idea what “sell by” labels are trying to tell them. But after 40 years of letting us guess, the grocery industry has made moves to clear up the confusion. On Wednesday, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the two largest trade groups for the grocery industry, announced that they’ve adopted standardized, voluntary regulations to clear up what product date labels mean. Where manufacturers now use any of 10 separate label phrases, ranging from “expires on” to “better if used by,” they’ll now be encouraged to use only two: “Use By” and “Best if Used By.” The former is a safety designation, meant to indicate when perishable foods are no longer good. “Best if Used By” is a quality descriptor — a subjective guess of when the manufacturer thinks the product should be consumed for peak flavor. …
  • “Should NC’s constitution limit eminent domain? House votes to back amendment,” The News & Observer: The N.C. House voted 104-9 Thursday morning to back a proposed constitutional amendment limiting government’s use of eminent domain to seize private property. The bill now heads to the Senate, and if it passes, voters would decide during the November 2018 election if they want to amend the state’s constitution. The amendment would ban eminent domain in cases where government seizes property only to sell it to a private developer, by requiring that all property seized be for “public use.” Those uses could include utility infrastructure, roads and government facilities. The amendment would also give property owners who sue over eminent domain an opportunity to have a jury – instead of a judge – determine how much money they’re owed for the property. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville, said the bill is needed in response to a U.S. Supreme Court case that allowed an expanded use of eminent domain for what’s termed “public purpose” or “public benefit” projects – but are often situations in which government takes private property only to sell it to a real-estate developer. “The Supreme Court said that the states were free to restrict eminent domain more than that, and that’s precisely what we’re doing here,” McGrady said. “We’re putting it in the constitution so we don’t have the same morphing that has occurred in other places.” …

Tar Heel Kitchen: Fried Sweet Potatoes

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 08:27
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 looking back at the Oct. 1, 1985 issue and a recipe for fried sweet potatoes.

Valentine’s Day is not the only thing that is sweet about February. It’s also the time we celebrate National Sweet Potato month.  Since 1971, North Carolina has ranked No. 1 in sweet potato production. Our top sweet potato-producing counties are Sampson, Nash and Johnston, accounting for half of the state’s supplies.

“Sweet potatoes are among the most easily prepared of all vegetables,” said Barbara “Babs’ Wilkinson, former NCDA&CS home economist. “They may be baked, boiled, browned, fried and candied. They can be used to make biscuits, bread, muffins, pies, custards, cookies, or cakes.”

For dozens of sweet potato recipes, visit the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission’s website. Or, try this quick, kid-friendly way to enjoy sweet potatoes.

Fried Sweet Potatoes:

  • 4 medium-size sweet potatoes, cleaned and peeled
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • Sugar

Slice potatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place in salted water for 30 minutes. Drain. Heat butter in large skillet; add potato slices. Cook until tender and golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar.

Note from the test kitchen: We left the skins on for additional health benefits. And we think brown sugar would be a great substitute for the sugar.

B&H Foods expands recall of pimento spread

Tue, 02/14/2017 - 08:12

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

On Feb. 9, B&H Foods of Charlotte expanded its recall of Ruth’s pimento spread to include additional products, all of which were packed at the company’s plant in Chester, S.C. The products were distributed at supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The company launched the initial recall Feb. 2 after a routine sample collected at retail by the NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection Division tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, which may cause life-threatening illness.

No illnesses have been reported to date. The company elected to expand the recall as a precaution.

All lots and sell-by dates for products labeled as “Packed by B&H Foods, Inc., Chester, SC” are being recalled. Products labeled as packed in Charlotte are not included in this recall.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

For more information about the recalled products, click here. Consumers with questions may contact the company toll free at 1-800-532-0409 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Click on the link below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about this food recall and the NCDA&CS’ food safety testing program.

Today’s Topic for Feb. 14

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

Faces in the Field: George Revels

Mon, 02/13/2017 - 11:47
Author’s note: Sometimes life just gets in the way. Like for us when Hurricane Matthew hit just a few days before the N.C. State Fair last October. This blog post was written and just waiting to be posted when I got a little sidetracked and this story got put on the back burner. However, the story still deserves to be told, so here it is, more than four months later:

The highest honor a state employee can recieve

In the fall, Gov. Pat McCrory honored 16 state employees with the Governor’s Award for Excellence, the highest honor a state employee can receive. One of those was the N.C. Forest Service’s George Revels, who was our 2015 Employee of the Year.

On Sept. 2, 2015, Revels was returning to the office after finishing some field work, when a woman passed him on the road at a high rate of speed and lost control of her car. The car, which ended up off the road, caught fire. Revels stopped to assist the woman and pulled her from the burning vehicle, suffering burns to the left side of his face, ear and cheek.

“Thomas was in the in the right place at the right time, and was selfless enough to put himself at risk to help a stranger,” Commissioner Troxler noted.

The video below, which was shown at the awards ceremony, explains why he received the Governors Award for Excellence in the Safety and Heroism. George, you make us proud!

News Roundup: Feb. 4 – 10

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 13:16
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.

  • “919 Beer: Sweet potato lager,” WRAL: (Video) February is Sweet Potato month and what better way to celebrate North Carolina’s dominance in the sweet potato industry, than drinking sweet potato beer. 919 Beer took a trip to Fullsteam in Durham to talk with Sean Lily Wilson about their sweet potato lager, Carver, and why it’s important to highlight NC agricultural products in his beer.
  • “WASHINGTON LAWMAKERS MADE AWARE OF AG ISSUES IN THE CAROLINAS,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) It seems that we wake up in a new world every day since Donald Trump moved into the White House. Dan Weathington, Executive Director of the North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association recently spent some time on Capitol Hill speaking with the state’s legislators, reminding them on what’s important for the region’s farmers. Weathington recaps his trip …
  • “Agribusiness students succeed close to home,” Washington Daily News: The best place to get an education in agribusiness might not always be the heart of a big city like Raleigh, as a number of students at Beaufort County Community College have found. The students, many of them taking over family operations in Beaufort, Hyde and Tyrrell counties, found that they can get the same training and knowledge through an atmosphere that felt closer to home. “We’re used to going to high schools with smaller class sizes,” said Billy Harding, who attended North Carolina State University, but returned to BCCC. “You have 200 people in a class with you (at N.C. State). I grew up on a farm. I was not used to city life.” …
  • “LITTLE OPTIMISM IN TOBACCO BEYOND 2017,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) At Friday’s annual Tobacco Growers of North Carolina meeting during the Southern Farm Show, tobacco growers were hoping for better, but right now, they’re generally hoping for not worse. NC State Economist Dr. Blake Brown: “That’s true. I mean, it could have been a lot worse this year. Brazil has a very large crop, and a good quality crop, I understand, that has just come off in the past month or so. So, we could have seen contracts down, we have seen some contracts down, primarily in the organic sector, that was very surprising for farmers, pretty dramatically. We have seen some contracts down, some up, so I think we’ll come out pretty flat, we may see production similar to what it was in 2016, it depends a lot on the exchange rate situation. …
  • “Cattle industry ‘very concerned’ about Trump’s pledge to renegotiate NAFTA,” Southeast Farm Press: The largest U.S. cattle trade group said it’s “very concerned” about President Donald Trump’s pledge to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which calls into question whether the industry will continue to enjoy its current level of market access in Mexico and Canada. …
  • “Bold Rock ramps up use of local apples in its cider,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Poor Red Delicious apples. Once the darling of lunchboxes, they’ve become the bane of schoolkids everywhere. Against crisp-fleshed, rosy-cheeked Honeycrisps, they’ve fallen far out of fashion. But Bold Rock Hard Cider’s founder Brian Shanks, a steely-blue-eyed entrepreneur with 30-year roots in the apple growing and cider-making industry, does not discriminate. At his Mills River facility, opened in 2015, a new apple press crushes a broad variety of local apples to a pulp within spitting distance of a taproom. Tumbling from wooden crates into a Voran Continuous Belt Press are apples with less-recognizable names, like Arkansas Blacks and Gold Rush, and Red Delicious, too. Positioned near the press is a truck waiting to shepherd that pulp to a local dairy. The cows love it, especially when it begins to ferment, Shanks said with a wink. …
  • “One game and 1.3 billion chicken wings later: Super Bowl keeps restaurants busy for days,” Winston-Salem Journal: Mary Gentry, manager, prepares a display of bottled sauces at the cash registers for the Super Bowl on Sunday morning at Waldo’s Wings in Winston-Salem. The New England Patriots may have won the Super Bowl, but the real winner was the country’s multitude of chicken wings restaurants. Americans devoured about 1.3 billion wings Sunday, enough wings to circle the Earth three times, according to the National Chicken Council. That’s enough for every single person in the U.S. — babies and vegetarians included — to eat four wings each. …

Tar Heel Kitchen: Brown Sugar Pound Cake

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 09:12
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 looking back at the December 1992 issue and a recipe for brown sugar pound cake.

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away and nothing says love like homemade. Barbara “Babs” Wilkinson calls this pound cake one of her “all-time favorites.”  We think it is the perfect amount of sweetness with a hint of vanilla. Serve it warm with a dollop of whipped cream.

To add to the romance, serve it with some North Carolina greenhouse-grown strawberries, available at farmers markets and grocery stores, and a local bouquet of flowers. Search for nurseries with locally grown cut flowers at

Brown Sugar Pound Cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1-pound box brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Cream the butter and shortening and gradually add in sugars, 1 cup at a time. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour and baking powder together and add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk. Add the vanilla and mix well until light and fluffy. Pour into a well-greased 10-inch tube pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 2 hours, or until cake tester inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.




It’s Pruning Time!

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 07:57

Trees may be leaf-less, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re management-free at this time of the year. In fact, for most trees, now is the time to get them into tip-top shape… literally. Shaping, thinning and removing damaged portions from shade trees is best done during these cool winter months before bud break.

But before you don your coat and go searching for your pruning saw, first assess whether you should be pruning at all. From the perspective of the health of your tree, there are a couple of questions to consider.

First, is any part of the tree dead, diseased or damaged? If so, these branches should be removed to improve overall appearance and health of your tree. Doing so will help prevent insect & decay organisms from entering the healthy portions of tree.

Second, is your tree prone to leaf diseases? Thinning the canopy increases air circulation and light penetration. Fungal diseases such as anthracnose affect many different tree species and often fungi thrive in dark, moisture-ridden environments. Reducing this ideal environment reduces their prevalence.

While the immediate weather forecast doesn’t threaten this, pruning trees before the next big ice storm can also reduce potential ice damage coming their way. Often, pruning targets weak wood or over-sized branches which can be damaged from the weight of a thick layer of ice.

If you don’t need to prune your trees, don’t! But act now if your trees are due for some maintenance. To prune your trees, contact a local certified arborist or reference N.C. State Cooperative Extension for guidance on do-it-yourself pruning. The University of Florida’s pruning guidelines are also very informative. Whatever you do, take advantage of warmer-than-usual days whenever you can!

Today’s Topic: State of Agriculture Address

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 08:09

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

N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler gave his State of Agriculture address last week at the annual Ag Development Forum during the Southern Farm Show. Listen in as he and Rhonda Garrison discuss the highlights of the speech and look to the future, including industrial hemp, food manufacturing and his goal of growing North Carolina agribusiness to a $100 billion industry by 2020.

Today’s Topic for Feb. 7

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

Protected: Wake County farm is older than the Declaration of Independence

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 15:31

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News Roundup: Jan. 28-Feb. 3

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 13:12

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.

  • “Daily Ag Summary: Carolina Cotton Growers Coop Named Exporter of the Year,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Garner-based Carolina Cotton Growers Cooperative has been named the 2017 N.C. Exporter of the Year by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The award recognizes individuals or companies that have made a positive impact on N.C. agricultural exports. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler presented the award to Michael Quinn, the cooperative’s president and CEO, and Keith Lucas, vice president of marketing, during the Ag Development Forum on Feb. 2 at the State Fairgrounds. Formed in 1922, the cooperative is the second-oldest in the nation and serves cotton growers in North Carolina and surrounding states. It is heavily involved in the international cotton industry. …
  • “Calm down. You’ll still be able to get your bacon,” The News & Observer: The alarming headlines came quickly Wednesday morning: “Now It’s Getting Serious: 2017 Could See a Bacon Shortage.” “Nation’s bacon reserves hit 50-year low as prices rise.” “Everyone Freak Out! America Is Running Low on Bacon.” And panic people did. The source of the anxiety was a recent report from the USDA, boosted by the Ohio Pork Council, which reported that the country’s frozen pork belly inventory was at its lowest point in half a century. Pork belly is the source of the greasy meat slices people love to put on everything. At the end of 2016, the reserves held just 17.8 million pounds, down more than 35 million pounds from the year prior. “Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever,” Rich Deaton, the president of the council, said in a statement. “Yet our reserves are still depleting.” …
  • “The importance of the tobacco market,” Washington Daily News: Thanks for the many nice compliments about our series on the history of Washington. Reading and now writing has become a hobby, and to study our local history was a pleasure. In this article, let us look at what used to be one of the most important days in our town’s economy: opening day of the tobacco market! We only wish more could have experienced this day because the process of getting tobacco to market was an arduous, laborious and sometimes educational process. Many lessons of life were learned, and it even had its own language. On a hot, sultry day, words like “puttin’ in,” “takin’ out,” “handin’,” “hanging,” “priming,” “tie horse,” “truckin’,” “tier poles,” “lugs,” “poking,” “suckering” and “toppin’” were common words. Even the name tobacco was pronounced “bacca.” In the field or under the shelter, work started early and finished just in time for a bath and supper. This process usually started in June and could run until September in a good year. The work from the field, to the shelter, to the barn, and then the pack house was indeed much more than a chore! And yet, there was still work to be done and fretted over. Tobacco still had to be taken to market. …
  • “Rosemary Pete closes his farm stand,” Charlotte Observer: Pete Vinci, who became a fixture on Charlotte’s local-food scene selling rosemary he clipped from his parents’ yard and went on to sell produce at farmers’ markets and to restaurants, announced Tuesday on Facebook that he will close his stand at the Charlotte Regional Farmers’ Market on Feb. 25. He plans to continue to operate his lemonade stand at the market and may sometimes sell mountain produce there, but Vinci said he’s changing to a business model in which he sells produce only to stores, not to restaurants or consumers.
    “It essentially can run itself,” he told The Observer. “Growing stuff all day and being at the farmers’ market, there’s not much time to do a lot of things.” …
  • “Food processing center plans move forward,” Greenville Daily Reflector: Work to plan for the proposed regional food processing center in Ayden are moving forward with the selection of a contractor to draw up documents needed for the town to apply for grant funding. The Ayden Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Jan. 9 a memorandum of understanding with Origin Farms Consulting of Kansas City, Mo., to create a business concept, feasibility assessment and business plan for the project.
    The total cost for Origin Farms’ work will be $39,000, which will be paid for from a $100,000 allocation given to the town by the N.C. General Assembly to support the project. …
  • “8 North Carolina chocolates to try right now,” Wilmington Star News: From barbecue to beer, North Carolina is known for a lot of fantastic foodstuffs. And thanks to a wave of like-minded entrepreneurs who’ve emerged in the past few years, we can add one more (most welcome) addition to the rapidly growing list: chocolate. The secret is clearly out. Chocolatiers in the Old North State have earned accolades from the Good Food Awards, Martha Stewart American Made Awards and countless other websites specializing in “best of” lists for their efforts, with many of the most highly-regarded offerings now widely distributed from mountain to shore. So whether you’re stocking up for Valentine’s Day, priming your palate for the upcoming Wilmington Wine and Chocolate Festival or just sneaking a quick indulgence between shifts, consider reaching for any of the following the next time your sweet tooth acts up. …
  • “Growing the ‘best damn oyster’: Inside the effort to get local oyster farming up to speed,” Port City Daily: Oyster farming is sustainable, environmentally beneficial and potentially lucrative. So why doesn’t North Carolina have more oyster farms? “There’s no reason not to do this,” said Tim Holbrook, owner of the Masonboro Reserve Oyster Co., “They’re good for the environment, they’re delicious. And it’s not a bad office. “And yet,” he added, “most of the oysters people eat in North Carolina are from somewhere else.” Port City Daily spoke with Holbrook about the state of local oyster farming while traveling to Holbrook’s oyster farm, four acres located in the estuarial waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. Situated between spoil islands and Masonboro Island, the location is ideal, according to Holbrook. “This is the cleanest water in the southeast,” he said. “It might be the most perfect water for oysters in the United States. It was one of the first national estuaries. That was done to recognize how pristine this area is.” Holbrook’s location is good, but not unique. North Carolina has ample aquatic acreage with potential for oyster farming. Despite this, other states are vastly out-producing North Carolina. According to Chuck Weirich, who works on aquaculture research and education for NC Sea Grant, Virginia and North Carolina had the same oyster production in 2005, about $250,000 a year. By 2016, Weirich said Virginia’s state subsidizing and reduced regulations had helped producers bring in $16 million, while North Carolina had barely reached $500,000. Now North Carolina is trying to catch up, and Holbrook is at the cutting edge of research to find out how. …
  • “This organic farmer weathers two historic flooding events on his Sampson County property,” Wilmington Star News: Draining a swamp is easier said than done — a fact Black River Organic Farm owner Stefan Hartmann knows better than most. About four months have passed since his acreage was submerged by the farm’s winding namesake body of water in Sampson County, but evidence of the deluge is still easy to find — most notably in the chest-high line of earthy sediment clinging to the walls of his three plastic-domed greenhouses. The high-water mark brought on by Hurricane Matthew in October eclipsed what Hartmann then thought of as worst-case-scenario flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 by more than two feet in places. “Compared to Floyd, this was a complete loss. Crops, gas tanks in the swamp, heaters, electrical panels — so much can go wrong,” Hartmann said of the devastation that continues to reverberate. “This time it came extremely fast. It rose higher and the water was moving faster. The whole thing was really turbulent. We’re really hoping this was the big one.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared Hurricane Matthew a 1-in-1,000 year flooding event. Floyd earned 500-year flood event status from NOAA. The designations are a predictor of probability — a 100-year flood has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year; 0.1 percent for a 1,000-year flood — and not a guarantee of dry land for any length of time. And that uncertainty has already forced Hartmann to shift gears. …
  • “Allergy-free peanuts? NC A&T scientists may have cracked the code,” The News & Observer: Creating an allergy-free peanut is deceptively simple: Roast, shell and peel it, then soak it in an enzymatic solution that removes about 98 percent of the allergens within the peanut. But the patented process, developed by researchers at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, could be life-changing for people with peanut allergies, though some scientists and organizations warn that there’s still a long way to go. The key to the peanut-cleansing treatment is alcalase, an enzyme that breaks down proteins in peanuts. Alcalase is used in some laundry detergents to remove protein-based stains like grass and blood, according to the National Centre for Biotechnology Education in the U.K. After the peanuts are roasted, shelled and peeled, they’re soaked in a solution containing alcalase, which reduces two major allergens, Ara h 1 and Ara h 2, in the peanuts. …

Got to be NC: Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 10:56
Krispy Kreme has been getting a lot of attention recently. Last week it was announced that North Carolinians prefer Krispy Kreme to Dunkin Doughnuts according to a recent public policy poll. Which means more of us agree on our favorite doughnut than we do our favorite type of barbecue.

We are proud that Krispy Kreme got its start in our state. The shop first opened its doors on July 13, 1937 in the historic Old Salem area of Winston-Salem. Since then, the Original Glazed Doughnut has stayed the same recipe and thousands of customers look forward to the iconic Hot Doughnuts Now sign flashing. In 2015, Kristpy Kreme opened its 1,000th location in Kansas City, Kan.

Need more proof? Check out this blog post from the N.C. State Fair showing just how deep Krispy Kreme love goes in the Tar Heel state.

The doughnut has even inspired a one-of-a-kind challenge in Raleigh. Started as a N.C. State University student-led fundraiser in 2004, runners have been accepting the Krispy Kreme Challenge ever since to benefit the UNC Children’s Hospital. The event has been listed in Sports Illustrated in 102 More things to Do before you graduate and as the No. 1 thing to do before you graduate by N.C. State University Student Government.

Thousands of runners will take off Saturday morning run the five-mile race that will lead them from the NCSU Belltower to Krispy Kreme – and here’s the challenge part – eat a dozen dozens before making the run back.

If you’re more inclined to be in your pajamas come Saturday morning, we suggest making this delicious bread pudding using doughnut holes at home, maybe giving a donation to the UNC Children’s Hospital in honor of North Carolina’s favorite doughnut and maybe, just maybe, consider accepting the challenge next year.

photo from Cooking Channel TV

Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding

1 (7.6 ounce) box doughnut holes
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

To make the bread pudding, layer doughnut holes in a greased medium baking dish (approximately 8×8 to 8×11). Whisk together the heavy cream, milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Pour over the doughnut holes, mashing down a little bit so that all the holes get saturated. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and allow to chill for one hour (any longer and the doughnuts will get too mushy), tossing occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the bread pudding, covered, for 40 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and continue to cook for another 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze. Melt the chocolate on the stove over medium-low to medium heat. Stir in heavy cream until completely combined. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. (Reheat if necessary before serving.)

Allow the bread pudding to cool for a few minutes before cutting. Drizzle each portion with the chocolate glaze before serving.

What’s Happening on the Farm: Recovering from Hurricane Matthew at Cherry Research Farm

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 15:44

Members of the Cherry Research Farm staff had to use boats to reach the flooded property following Hurricane Matthew.

Farms are places of year-round activity. There is almost always something going on, regardless of the season. Periodically, 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 look at the lasting effects of Hurricane Matthew on livestock, crops, infrastructure and research at Cherry Research Farm in Goldsboro.

On Oct. 8, 2016, a Category 1 hurricane dumped more than 15 inches of rain in Goldsboro before moving on. The flooding matched and, in some cases, surpassed that caused by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which at the time was considered a 500-year flooding event.

Andy Meier, station superintendent for Cherry Research Farm, gives an overview below:

Can you tell us how Hurricane Matthew impacted the station?

Cherry Research Farm experienced significant flooding. Only three of the 45 buildings on the more-than-2,000-acre property were out of water. Before the storm hit, we moved livestock to higher ground and after the storm, the livestock could only be reached by boat. It was the beginning of the dairy calving season and about halfway through farrowing season. During the event we had about 40 animals born at the station.

Crops were not spared. About 60 percent of the soybean crop was a total loss. Half the cotton crop was destroyed and a vast majority of the baled hay was also a total loss. The corn was in the bin, and the floor that holds corn sits off the ground about 24-25 inches. Water came close but didn’t reach the corn.

I know you were grateful for the outpouring of support the station received. Can you tell us a little about that?

The other Research Stations contributed meals, supplies, staff and boats during and after the flood. We couldn’t have done it without them. We also had assistance from other NCDA&CS divisions. Purchasing really helped us out when it came to the big item purchases critical to operations, like boats. The N.C. Forest service spent more than three days airlifting feed and hay to stranded animals. N.C. State provided a meal and (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) Dean Richard Linton and several of his team either visited or called asking how they could help. N.C. A&T University provided meals and helped us empty the buildings that were flooded. The Center for Environmental Farming Systems helped with labor, meals and started a fund to help with recovery efforts. Our Research Stations Division director, Sandy Stewart, stayed right with us for more than half of the eight days when we could not reach our livestock by trucks. The commitment of the Cherry Farm staff, NCDA&CS, NCSU, NCA&T and many other individuals and agencies was evident, and the teamwork across all of these partners led to a successful response to this emergency.

Anyone who lived in Eastern North Carolina in 1999 knew the devastation caused when Hurricane Floyd came through. In terms of flooding and damage at the research station, how did Hurricane Mathew compare to Hurricane Floyd?

Flooding for Matthew was worse than ’99 (Floyd). The water was 2 feet higher at the station and slower to leave. Both hurricanes were horrible events. During and immediately after the flood, livestock took priority. It was calving season, so feed and making sure the animals were secure was the number one concern.

Now, three months later, we are just finally getting to the general type of things you have to do after a flood. Sand needs to be cleared out of ditches, levee repair and clean-up of debris along the borders of the fields that was left when the waters receded. We have seven weeks to work before planting season and it will be a busy time.

However, Floyd prepared us for Mathew. We knew where to stage equipment, what critical equipment would be needed. And the best way to assemble critical staff. We knew our roles in the disaster and it helped with recovery.

As for planning for next time, I hope that I’ll be long retired by then. Two floods of this magnitude is enough. I do know we need to move some critical infrastructure out of the flood plain, and find a good way to reach the livestock units besides a boat.

How did the flooding impact ongoing research at the station?

We have a lot of different types of research at the station. Some of the trials were not impacted. Others, like ongoing research on soil, it’s too early to know the impact. Data couldn’t be collected for 50 acres of different cotton trials.

When something like this happens, researchers just have to mark ‘no data collected’ for the year. It is not ideal, especially for research that is receiving outside funding. The worst possible long-term impact would be to lose funding for these trials.

However, there is good news, most of these are replicated trials. Which means the same research is ongoing at another research station at the same time. Even if your trial at Goldsboro was flooded, you can still collect information at Clayton, or at another station. The strength of our research system is that a critical event doesn’t stop a program.

What are the next steps for recovery?

Our main offices have been approved for demolition. It flooded during Hurricane Floyd, too. The Legislature also approved $250,000 for levee repair. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Division of Soil and Water Conservation are looking for a solution. There are four breaches in the levee, and no easy fixes. The challenge this growing season will be not having the levees fixed. Hard summer rains won’t be able to drain as effectively.

We are optimistic about this planting season. But then again, all farmers are optimistic about growing season.


Twelfth annual Ag Development Forum is Feb. 2 in Raleigh

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 08:44

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

The 2017 Southern Farm Show takes place Feb. 1-3 at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, and one of the events that coincides with it is the annual Ag Development Forum on Feb. 2.

The 12th annual Ag Forum will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Holshouser Building at the fairgrounds. Admission is free, and lunch will be provided.

At the forum, agricultural economists Michael Walden and Blake Brown of N.C. State University will present their economic outlook for N.C. agriculture. The agenda also includes an update on federal policy and legislative issues from Ray Starling, chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.

There also will be a panel discussion about agriculture’s important role in emergency response, and Commissioner Troxler will deliver his annual State of Agriculture address.

For more information or to register for the forum, click here.

Following the forum and lunch, there will be an information session about state, federal and private programs that provide energy market opportunities for agricultural producers.

Visitors to the farm show also can stop by the NCDA&CS exhibit in the Graham Building. Many divisions will have information about the programs and services they offer to farmers, agribusinesses and consumers.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about the 12th annual Ag Development Forum.

Today’s Topic for Jan. 31

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

NCDA&CS takes center stage at the Southern Farm Show

Mon, 01/30/2017 - 15:31

The NCDA&CS Marketing Division will be selling Got to Be NC merchandise in the Expo Building during the Southern Farm Show.

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up! The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is pleased to present its 2017 lineup for the 2017 Southern Farm Show Feb. 1-3. This show is the Southeast’s largest agricultural exposition with more than 400 vendors. It’s held every February at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Come early and plan to stay all day. Admission and parking are both free. Be sure to include the following in your farm show visit:

Ag Development Forum
In the center ring, the star of the Southern Farm Show is the 2017 Ag Development Forum on Feb. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Holshouser Building. Setting the stage for agriculture this year is Commissioner Steve Troxler’s annual State of Agriculture address. Joining Troxler are Drs. Michael Walden and Blake Brown, both of North Carolina State University, and Ray Starling, chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis. Walden and Brown will provide an agriculture economic outlook, while Starling will share a federal legislative and policy update. A panel discussion will highlight agriculture’s important role in emergency response. A free lunch will be provided for all who register by Jan. 31 at An information session on new market opportunities in energy will follow lunch.

Got to Be NC Big Cart, Jeep and merchandise
In the Expo Building atrium is the Got to Be NC store featuring crowd favorites the Got To Be NC Big Cart and Jeep. This is also your one-stop shop for official Got To Be NC merchandise, including apparel and license plates. Be sure to stop by and snag your favorite Got to Be NC gear!

Answers and support
And last, but not least, in one convenient location in the Graham Building’s Hall of Fame room, get your questions answered regarding the cavalcade of programs and services offered to N.C. consumers, farmers and agribusiness through the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Find helpful answers, reliable information and more details about each division’s programs and services and pick up useful giveaway items. Plus enjoy free chilled fresh-cut apple slices courtesy of C.L. Henderson Produce. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the highlights:!

Emergency planning, preparation and response
The last few months have certainly underscored the importance of disaster planning and preparation. Be sure to pick up helpful templates and resources for farm emergency plans, pet care emergencies and equine planning from Emergency Programs staff. They’ve created a visual summary of Hurricane Matthew’s preparedness and department responses, along with other disasters such as tornadoes, ice storms, drought and wildfires.

In this same area, check out the Realistic Yield Estimating digital tool, which ties soil types with crop production estimates.

The farming industry’s health
Be sure to visit with the Agricultural Statistics staff for an introduction to the upcoming 2017 Census of Agriculture, scheduled to be mailed out in December 2017. This will be a comprehensive look at the overall health of the farming industry in the U.S. Here you’ll also find current and historic statistical data about various North Carolina commodities, including acres, yield, production and prices.

Keeping family farms in production and out of development
Learn how you can keep your family farms and forests in production and out of commercial or residential development from the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. What does the trust fund do? It assists in the preservation of N.C.’s agricultural economy by providing grants to county governments and nonprofit organizations for conservation easements, agricultural plans and agricultural development projects. More than 15,800 acres of farm and forest lands have been preserved. To date, trust fund grant recipients have secured nearly $47 million in matching funds, with more than $9 million in additional matching funds anticipated by the end of 2018.

Protecting bees, crops and workers
Growers, beekeepers, and pesticide applicators and users will find information about DriftWatch, BeeCheck and FieldWatch online mapping services to protect pollinators and reduce the effects of accidental drift on sensitive crops. Details on how to sign up for free, other pollinator protection resources and information about recent updates to the Worker Protection Standards will be provided by Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division staff.

Livestock and poultry health and welfare protection
Visit with Veterinary Division staff to learn more about North Carolina’s animal and poultry health and welfare regulatory programs and diagnostic labs. Producers will find helpful information on equipment and products and will receive free rattle paddles for humane movement of animals.

N.C. Forest Service staff will be at the farm show to talk about the agency’s programs and services.

Ask a forest ranger
The N.C. Forest Service will be on hand to talk about its many programs and services, ranging from forest protection to forest management. Come visit them and learn about what they do and how they can help you. The N.C. Forest Service Nursery and Tree Improvement Program will also have an exhibit tent showcasing their program and the more than 50 different types of tree seedlings grown in at Goldsboro nursery.

Bioenergy technology opportunities
The Bioenergy Research Initiative booth will be the place to discuss potential technology opportunities in the bioenergy field, learn a little about the grant program, and get acquainted with unfamiliar plant species.

Animal feed is a key ingredient to food safety
Bring your samples to our booth at the show, along with your payment, and we will get them over to the lab for you.

Come ask the animal feed staff with the Food and Drug Protection Division questions about the federal government’s Veterinary Feed Directive and take home helpful materials. Receive assistance in completing VFD distribution notification forms and reviewing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Blue Bird Medicated Feed Label site as well as learn how to write a valid VFD.

Those in the animal-feed manufacturing business can also stop by for Q&A with our staff on the Food Safety Modernization Act as well as receive information, get assistance in completing facility registrations and take the opportunity to schedule pre-inspections for your facility.

Accessing agricultural credit when financing isn’t available
The N.C. Agricultural Finance Authority operates essentially as an “agricultural bank” to provide credit to agriculture in local areas where financing is not available at reasonable rates and terms. Its mission applies to all aspects of agriculture: farming, processing, manufacturing and exporting. Staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about on loan programs.

All this and more!
Even more of the services and resources available through the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will be featured in additional booths and displays from these divisions:

  • Marketing: Providing growers marketing support of North Carolina commodities through Got to Be NC member benefits and services. Find information on marketing grants and registration for upcoming buyer-farmer meetings and more.
  • Food Distribution: Administering numerous food programs for USDA.
  • Agronomic Services: Providing reliable science-based land management information, such as soil testing.
  • Plant Industry: Encompassing everything related to seed, fertilizer and soil additives, protecting against introduced plant pests and protecting endangered and threatened plants.
  • Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program: This voluntary program utilizes federal and state resources to protect cropland and marginal pastureland through conservation easements.

If you’re not able to visit all of displays and booths in person during the Southern Farm Show, you can learn more online at Plus, follow @NCAgriculture on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates from the Southern Farm Show. See you there!

News Roundup: Jan. 21-27

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 12:33

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.

  • Family cattle farm returns to natural approach,” The Robesonian: Eddie Moore calls to his herd of Angus cows. “Who loves you?” he hollers. In unison, they bellow in reply. Eddie Moore knows each of his cows. The cows and their calves each have a tag in one ear with a number that ends up on packages of Moore Brothers beef. Raised naturally on a farm that has been in the family since 1891, Moore Brothers beef is known for tenderness and flavor. The Moore Brothers, Eddie and Luther, ship beef to restaurants and retailers in eastern North and South Carolina from their farm in the Prospect community of Robeson County. Their story began like many other farms in this county — with tobacco. Tobacco was a good living for a long time, Eddie Moore said, until it ran out. “When the tobacco-side played out in 1999, the beef-side came in,” Eddie Moore said. “We had been raising cows as a hobby. Friends seemed to like it. “It’s a challenge. Our goal is simple: to raise beef that tastes as good as possible. I think we’ve got the best quality beef right now that we’ve ever had.” From a modest start, Moore Brothers currently distributes its product in Raleigh, Wilmington, Pinehurst-Southern Pines and Myrtle Beach, S.C. …
  • “NC Tobacco Growers Wait for Effects of Reynolds Merger,” Time Warner Cable News: (Video) The tobacco industry was shaken up this week after British American Tobacco announced their intentions to take over Winston-Salem-based Reynolds American for $49 billion. With news of the merger come many questions, including what this could mean for tobacco farmers across North Carolina.
  • “EPA sends ‘letter of concern’ to regulators over hog farms,” Washington Daily News: The civil rights office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sent a “letter of concern” to North Carolina regulators in light of a two-year investigation targeting health problems affecting minority communities near large-scale hog operations. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the 25-page letter to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has not done enough to reduce stench, flies and other problems caused by the facilities. EPA also said it has “grave concerns” about reports from minority neighbors of threats and intimidation against those who have complained. The federal agency also faults North Carolina for not having an anti-discrimination policy in place, as required by federal law. …
  • “Trump’s order to withdraw from TPP concerns US agriculture,” Southeast Farm Press: Following an executive order Jan. 23 from President Donald Trump to withdraw the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, segments of U.S. agriculture expressed significant concern. “While President Trump signed an executive order today withdrawing our nation from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we viewed TPP as a positive agreement for agriculture – one that would have added $4.4 billion annually to our struggling agriculture economy,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy in a written statement following the Trump announcement. “With this decision, it is critical that the new administration begin work immediately to do all it can to develop new markets for U.S. agricultural goods and to protect and advance U.S. agricultural interests in the critical Asia-Pacific region.” American Soybean Association President Ron Moore pointed out the high stakes for soybean farmers and urged the Trump Administration to immediately announce how it intends to engage and expand market access in the Asia-Pacific region. “Trade is something soybean farmers take very seriously. We export more than half the soy we grow here in the United States, and still more in the form of meat and other products that are produced with our meal and oil,” said Moore, who farms in Roseville, Ill., in a written statement. “The TPP held great promise for us, and has been a key priority for several years now. We’re very disappointed to see the withdrawal today.” The TPP represents 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), and according to the Peterson Institute, would have increased overall U.S. exports by $357 billion by 2030. …
  • “North Carolina companies take home 2017 Good Food Awards,” News & Observer: Several North Carolina companies took home Good Food Awards, which were announced late Friday evening in San Francisco. The Good Food Awards, now in its sixth year, are awarded to food and drink products that are “tasty, authentic and responsibly produced.” Business owners can enter their products in the contest’s 14 categories. Almost 200 winners were chosen from 2,095 entrants in this year’s contest.
  • “Study: Dan River farms and crops are untainted by coal ash,” Winston-Salem Journal: Researchers recently gave a clean bill of health to farmland and crops along the Dan River in a two-year study that found no lingering adverse effects from Duke Energy’s 2014 coal ash spill near Eden. A study team from N.C. State’s crop and soil sciences department sampled agricultural land along a 57-mile stretch of the river, both upstream and downstream from the spill at the utility’s now-demolished Dan River Steam Station in February 2014. “Our results showed no impacts of the Eden coal ash release on trace-element contents of soils or crops during the course of our two-year study period,” the four-person team said in its 113-page final report. The spill occurred on Super Bowl Sunday 2014 when a decades-old metal pipe ruptured beneath one of the retired power plant’s unlined coal ash ponds where the powdery remains of spent coal were submerged. …
  • “1 million funds reforestation in 93 N.C. counties,” Wilkes Journal-Patriot: The N.C. Forest Service announced that $1 million has been made available to assist landowners with the cost of reforestation in Wilkes and all but seven other counties in the state starting today (Jan. 23). The assistance from the Timber Restoration Fund (TRF) will be administered by the forest service using requirements and paperwork similar to those for the agency’s Forest Development Program (FDP). The funds are available through the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016 in counties covered by state of emergency declarations last year. The declarations were made for eastern counties due to hurricane-related damage and to western counties because of a severe fall wildfire season. …
  • “Angell awarded small grains association honor,” Davie County Enterprise Record: Mocksville farmer Madison Angell received the Lifetime Service Award from the N.C. Small Grain Growers Association. Angell was on the original steering committee that formed the association. The thought of the group was to form an organization that would encourage better management practices, improved varieties, and research increasing yields. In 1985 a group of farmers, Ron Jarrett, and NC State met at the Research Station in Salisbury to develop a thought process for forming the organization. During the meeting, there were suggestions that funds would need to be raised for expenses in forming the association. There were commitments for pledging $1,250 for seed money to make their plans a reality. After much research and information gathering there was a meeting held at the NC State Faculty Club, Raleigh, on July 24, 1986 with 31 people in attendance to form the association. Angell said he supported the formation of the association to promote a neighborhood type of relationship in bringing together farmers, businessmen and extension agents to deal with common issues to move the group forward. He was elected chair of the interim board of directors along with Phil McLain, Statesville, presently advisor to the board. …

Recipe Roundup: Soups for cold weather

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 11:11
WRAL reporter Brian Shrader and our own Lisa Prince feature seasonal recipes in their weekly Local Dish Cooking segment. This month, Brian and Lisa feature favorite soup recipes.

Windy and cold days can be common in January and February in North Carolina, making it a great time a break out the Dutch oven and try a few hot and delicious soup recipes. Check out a few soup suggestions from Brian and Lisa below.

“If you are watching your calories, you can always leave off the heavy cream in the recipe below and it’s still delicious,” said Lisa. She also recommends trying your favorite refrigerated pasta like three cheese spinach tortellini.

Grilled Turkey and Pasta Soup

  • 2 turkey breast tenderloins
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1⁄2 cup celery, sliced thin
  • 1⁄2 cup carrot, sliced thin
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 9-ounces refrigerated three-cheese tortellini
  • 5 ounces fresh baby kale
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Combine ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary. Rub turkey with 1 teaspoon olive oil then coat with seasoning mixture. Preheat grill. Sear 5 to 8 minutes on each side. Grill for another 20 minutes, turning several times. Check internal temperature with thermometer in thickest part of the tenderloin. Cook to internal temperature of 165 degrees. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Then cut into ½ inch pieces, saving any juice.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and turkey drippings in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add celery and carrots, remaining salt and pepper; cook stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, or 4 to 5 minutes. Add stock and grilled turkey, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add tortellini, and simmer until tortellini is cooked, about 6 minutes. Stir in kale, salt, pepper and heavy cream and cook until heated through. Top each with crumbled bacon.

Lisa suggests seasoning this soup with salt and pepper throughout the cooking process. If you want this soup to be a little hot and spicy, you can always add more Texas Pete to your individual bowl.

Vegetable Beef Soup

  • 2 pounds lean hamburger
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1⁄2 cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 7 cups water
  • 15 ounces diced tomato
  • 2 ears corn, cut kernels from the cob
  • 15 ounces butter beans
  • 15 ounces black-eyed peas
  • 2 cups cabbage, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup ketchup
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 3 cups fresh green beans, cooked
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Hot sauce (optional)

In a large Dutch oven, brown hamburger and drain any grease; set aside. Add olive oil to the pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring often until vegetables begin to soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Add broth, water, hamburger, tomatoes, fresh corn that has been cut off the cob, butter beans, black-eyed peas, cabbage, ketchup and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low, simmer for 10-15 minutes until the cabbage and corn are cooked. Add green beans, hot sauce, salt and pepper and simmer another 5 minutes.

Remember to salt your potatoes while they are boiling and when you blend them in this recipe. If you want your stew a little thinner, add more chicken stock. Lisa cooks her whole chicken with salt, pepper and ½ stick of butter. She suggests saving the broth instead of buying it since it saves money and tastes better.

Chicken Pot Pie Stew

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1⁄2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 ears of corn, cut off cob
  • 1 cup peas, frozen
  • 1 whole chicken, cooked and meat shredded
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1 package crescent rolls

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion and carrot; cook stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, or 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook stirring often for about 1 minute. Add broth and potatoes to the pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Using a submersible blender, pulse until part of the potatoes are blended, creating a creamy base. Then add the corn cut off the cob, peas and chicken. Season with salt and pepper; cook for 10 minutes. Turn heat to low and add the heavy cream and half and half. Continue cooking until soup is warm throughout.
Roll out crescent rolls and cut with a circle cookie cutter. Bake according to package directions. Serve soup in a bowl topped with a baked crescent roll.

You can experiment with the recipe below. Try out different hot, mild or sweet sausages to you find your favorite combination.

Sausage and Cabbage Soup

  • 1⁄2 pound spicy hot Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
  • 1⁄2 pound sweet Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • 5 2⁄3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups cabbage, chopped
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Sage leaves (optional)

In a large Dutch oven, brown sausage, remove from pan and drain any grease. On medium-high heat add water, broth, sweet potatoes, onion, cabbage and fresh thyme. Simmer until potatoes are tender and cabbage is cooked. Add sausage to the pot and simmer 10 minutes. Season soup with dried thyme, salt and pepper and serve with crispy sage leaves.

Crispy Sage Leaves: Pinch off sage leaves from steam. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Fry 6–8 sage leaves at a time until crisp, 2–3 seconds on each side. Transfer with a fork to paper towels and sprinkle generously with coarse salt.


New scale insect threatens the South’s beloved crape myrtle

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 08:27

The crape myrtle is a fan favorite in the southern landscape. Across the region, its pink, lavender, red and white flowers can be spotted along streets, in cities, parks and yards. They are loved for their gorgeous flowers and smooth bark, but also prized for their drought-hardiness and ability to withstand pests. That is, until now.

With the arrival of a new insect, crape myrtles may no longer be considered an easy and low-maintenance tree. Crape myrtles that are infested with the newly-introduced crape myrtle bark scale will likely require active pest management to remain healthy and beautiful landscape trees.

A heavy crape myrtle bark scale infestation. Image: Gary Brooks, Bayer CropScience,

The crape myrtle bark scale is native to Asia and was first found in the U.S. in 2004 near Dallas, Texas. The best guess is that the scale arrived unintentionally and undetected on infested plant imports. Since its arrival, the bark scale has spread across the Southeast. In August 2016, it was first detected in North Carolina in Iredell County.

Identifying it. Often, the first thing that is noticed when a crape myrtle is infested with this scale is the presence of sooty mold. Sooty mold is a black fungus that grows on honeydew, the excrement of plant-sucking insects such as scales and aphids. It is much more prominent than the teeny, tiny insects that cause it. Upon closer inspection, the scale insect is visible. Nymphs are pinkish in color and adult females are covered in white or gray felt-like ovisacs. If crushed between two fingers, a pink liquid can be seen.

The crape myrtle bark scale is one of the only scale insects that infests crape myrtle. Often, sooty mold can be caused by the more common crape myrtle aphid, so it’s important to look closer if sooty mold is observed. When infestations first begin, scales prefer the rough areas on the bark. As the infestation grows, however, the scales may be found more uniformly on the bark of the tree.

This crape myrtle is covered in sooty mold. With a closer look, one can spot the white spots that are the crape myrtle bark scale. Image: Jim Robbins, Univ. of Arkansas CES,

Damage caused. This scale can cause considerable damage to trees. Not only will heavy infestations stunt growth, but branch dieback is possible, leaving entire branches of the multi-stemmed crape myrtle dead. Some reports indicate the plant may have less blooms as well. Besides the aesthetic damage of sooty mold turning tree trunks black in color, sooty mold can also limit photosynthesis capabilities. To keep crape myrtles the vibrant and healthy trees they’re loved as in the landscape, trees infested with the crape myrtle bark scale will likely need regular pest management.

Management. Management of crape myrtle bark scale may not be as straight-forward as the identification of the pest. First and foremost, if planting a crape myrtle in the landscape, inspect it for signs of the scale before it is planted. The last thing you want is to start with a problem that needs addressing.

Another option is to physically remove the scales from the tree using a mild detergent solution and stiff-bristled brush. The scales and sooty mold can also be removed using a high-pressure wash. Brushing the scales off will remove them from the plant but will not prevent re-infestation, so regular monitoring is a must. Several types of ladybugs are predators of the scale as well, so releasing these beneficial insects can reduce an infestation.

There are also pesticides that are available to combat this pest. Neonicotinoid pesticides applied as a soil drench have shown to be most effective so far. However, one of the more commonly used neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, is known to be harmful to pollinators. Therefore, homeowners should instead consider using dinotefuran to treat the flowering bee-favorite crape myrtle. In addition, insect growth regulators (e.g., pyriproxyfen, buprofezin) and horticultural oils used at the heavier dormant rate may also be effective. As always, it is critical to read the label before applying pesticides. Timing and appropriate application won’t just garner better control results, but the label is the law!

Report it! If you suspect you have an infestation of crape myrtle bark scale, there are several ways it can be reported to track its spread in our state. Take a photo and send to, contact your local plant pest specialist or report it via 800-206-9333.

2016 a very good year for corn in North Carolina

Tue, 01/24/2017 - 08:26

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

USDA recently released its annual crop summary, which showed that 2016 was a very good year for N.C. corn production.

Even though the average yield of 129 bushels per acre fell short of the state record (142 bushels/acre in 2013), last year was a bright spot for corn. Total corn production in the state was 121 million bushels, which was 47 percent higher than 2015’s total.

Soybean production was up 5 percent last year, with production of 58 million bushels on 1.66 million acres. The yield averaged 35 bushels per acre.

Peanut yields were down slightly in 2016, to 3,450 pounds per acre. But production was still up 13 percent, to almost 303 million pounds, because farmers harvested 99,000 acres of peanuts.

Another crop that saw a big increase in acreage was sweet potatoes. Farmers harvested 95,000 acres, putting production at 17 million hundredweight. That’s 5 percent more than in 2015.

Commissioner Troxler says the numbers indicate that the impacts from Hurricane Matthew on corn, soybeans, peanuts and sweet potatoes may not have been as severe as initially feared.

But the report did confirm that cotton suffered from the hurricane. The cotton yield averaged 665 pounds per acre, which is 48 pounds less than in 2015. And production was down 32 percent, to 360,000 bales.

Tobacco production in North Carolina also was lower last year. Production of flue-cured and burley tobacco combined was 331.8 million pounds, a drop of 13 percent from 2015. The average yield for flue-cured in 2016 was 2,000 pounds per acre, while the burley yield averaged 1,800 pounds per acre.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about the 2016 crop summary.

Today’s Topic for Jan. 24

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