News Roundup

News Roundup: July 16-22

By on July 22, 2016

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

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

  • “Blacklands Region Sitting on a Good Corn Crop,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) We’ve heard several times over the past couple of weeks how good the North Carolina corn crop is. The state’s Blacklands region tends to have some of the highest corn yielding acres on the east coast, and Rod Gurganus, Director of Beaufort County Extension says their crop looks good…for the most part: “We have a lot of acres that typically go into corn production every year, so we certainly have a lot of corn in the area. Our crop looks really good in a lot of spots, but the problem is, for us, we also know that there are areas in the fields that had so much rainfall from the two tropical storms earlier in the year that those areas were damaged a lot, and depending on what the growth stage of the corn was at the time leant itself to how well the corn recovered. And so, we’re going to have a little bit of a mixed bag, we’re going to pick some really good corn in spots, and I’m afraid we’re going to have some areas where the guys are going to be disappointed, because of the damage we had earlier with water. So, it’s going to be a bit of a mixed bag for us, but generally speaking, the corn crop really looks pretty darn good right now.” …
  • “Livestock farms get a win; North Carolina drops attempt to require extra permitting for animal operation,” Farm Futures: For more than a decade, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) has been focused on requiring extra permits for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) rather than allow them to qualify for the agricultural stormwater exemption. That looks to be changing as the DEQ has dropped its challenges to the permitting. In a statement, the DEQ stated it was reversing the previous administration’s decision to bring poultry operations under federal regulation.  …
  • “Extension, farmers watchful for heat conditions,” Sampson Independent: Allan Thornton, an associate for Sampson County Cooperative Extension, recently reported that earlier hot days resulted in issues with peppers and tomatoes, such as blossom-end rot, a disease caused by lack of calcium and shown though a dark mark at the distal end of the fruit. “It will begin to decay and rot,” Thornton said while describing the problem. “I think some of that came about from that real early heat that we had when the peppers were maybe a golf ball size or so.” Now, Thornton said there’s enough heat where fruits such as peppers, watermelons and cantaloupes that are exposed closed to maturity can be sunburned. “We had a little of that, but it hasn’t been too bad,” Thornton said. “We had a little foliage to keep that fruit covered pretty well. But where we really get into problems is when we don’t have rainfall, good growing conditions and plant canopy. …
  • “Pup Sprout Farms optimizes space to grow local food,” Fayetteville Observer: Passions for crops and nature are apparent when you talk to Johnathan “Pup” Lenard. He excitedly explains how to plant sweet potatoes and watermelons along the front walkway for curb appeal to yield delicious summer treats that look as nice as they taste. Then he heads over to a segment of his family’s front yard where various crops are growing. Because he uses no pesticides, he reaches down, dusts off the crop, and samples it. On Saturday, 26-year-old Lenard, with help from family and friends, hosted the grand opening of Pup Sprout Farms just off Wilmington Highway. From two segments in the backyard of his sister, Amber Little, to a large segment in his own front yard, Lenard’s goal with Pup Sprout Farms is to provide fresh, local food and to raise awareness. “We want people to know we’re here,” Lenard said. “If you don’t want to farm your yard, don’t worry; we can provide your food.” …
  • “CSX finally finds home for cargo hub in Rocky Mount,” WRAL: After months of discussion and debate, CSX announced Tuesday that it will build its massive Carolina Connector cargo terminal in Edgecombe County. The $270 million hub, which is expected to open in 2020, will be built across U.S. Highway 301 from North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount. Officials anticipate 300 permanent jobs at the site, as well as 250 to 300 construction jobs. “The Carolina Connector will be a game-changer for our state’s economy, supporting North Carolina’s agriculture, ports and position as the Southeast’s No. 1 state for manufacturing jobs,” Gov. Pat McCrory said in announcing the project. Cargo transfer hubs, which move containers from ships to rail to trucks, improve efficiency in distributing goods from manufacturers to retailers and consumers, officials said, and they also reduce truck traffic on state highways. CSX predicts 270,000 fewer trucks will be be traveling across North Carolina once the Rocky Mount terminal opens. Studies by the state Department of Transportation show warehouses and other distribution facilities usually cluster around such cargo hubs, and officials have projected the Carolina Connector could eventually spawn up to 13,000 related jobs statewide.
  • “Why farmland may become a more popular neighborhood amenity than a golf course,” MarketWatch: Amy Fahey tends to a backyard garden at her suburban Chicago home, growing tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, peppers, Brussels sprouts, beans and herbs. But never squash. “Three years in a row I’ve been struggling to grow squash,” she said. The reason it won’t take, she thinks: There aren’t enough bees to pollinate the plants. “We’ve killed off parts of the environment that could naturally make this happen,” said the retired J.P. Morgan executive who lives in Elmhurst, Ill., with her husband and teenage daughter. But the neighborhood in which the Faheys are building a home offers new hope. Set in Hampshire, Ill., about 50 miles from downtown Chicago, Serosun Farms is a new home-conservation development, restoring wetlands, woodlands and prairie, and preserving farmland throughout. Already, the frog population has grown exponentially from the conservation work done onsite, and monarch butterflies are also on the rebound, said Jane Stickland, who is working on the project with her brother, developer John DeWald. Their efforts also are boosting the bee population. “For organic farming, you need that balance of the ecosystem,” Stickland said. It’s very early in its development, but Serosun plans to incorporate about 160 acres of working farmland, making farm-to-table a way of life for residents through regular farmer’s markets. The community also offers eight miles of trails, an equestrian center and fishing ponds: 75% of the development will be reserved for farming and open space. The 114 single-family homes range from $700,000 to $2 million; the median listing price for homes in Hampshire, Ill., is about $238,000, according to ( is owned by News Corp., as is MarketWatch.) The higher price for homes at Serosun reflects the cost of having all that open space, as well as sustainable features such as geothermal heating systems. “There is a reason developers try to put as many dwellings as they can on a site, as preserving land comes at a premium,” DeWald said. …
  • “Peach Month: The Sweetness of Summer,” Time Warner Cable News: (Video) The sweetness of summer is being celebrated by the rosy glow of peaches. July is “Peach Month” in North Carolina, and Friday was peach day at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market. North Carolina peaches aren’t an export crop. The State Agriculture Commissioner says, farmers sell most of them directly through Farmers Markets and roadside stands within a few days of harvesting. “The month of July is our peak season and into August. We do start in May and go to the first of October, but it’s such a short window of opportunity to get fresh peaches,” says Christine Parsons, of Parsons Farm. North Carolina farmers dedicate more than a thousand acres to peaches, growing nearly 70 different varieties. The Agriculture Department says they’re a $6 million crop for the state.
  • “NC poultry industry says it will give homeowners more space from chicken farms” Winston-Salem Journal: Something had to give, homeowners just wanted to live without the nauseating stench of poultry manure — that unmistakable mixture of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Although the problem persists in many rural counties, it has met its sharpest resistance from a group of homeowners in Surry County. For more than a year, they have opposed the proliferation of industrial-size poultry farms, some with more than 25,000 chickens per house at times, and some with more than 10 houses per farm. Now the tide is turning. The N.C. Poultry Federation is trying to play nice with neighbors. The federation’s board of directors, which includes representatives from the big poultry companies, including Tyson Foods Inc. and Perdue Farms Inc., has agreed to give homeowners statewide more space. …
  • “Sentinel partnership protects land around military bases,” Fayetteville Observer: A large swath of eastern North Carolina has been designated as part of a federal program that helps the military and other government entities battle encroachment. The Sentinel Landscape Partnership is a joint conservation effort between the departments of Defense, Agriculture and Interior. Formed in 2013, the partnership is aimed at protecting military training areas, endangered species and wildlife habitats while also restoring working agricultural and natural lands. …
  • “Doug Clark: Equestrian industy leads rural county’s transformation,” Greensboro News & Record: Thirty years ago, High Point Enterprise publisher Randall B. Terry Jr. was running with an idea to bring thoroughbred horse racing to North Carolina. He and his supporters tried to sell its economics. “This is an agribusiness program designed to promote and develop breeding, farmland enhancement and tourism,” then-state Sen. Kenneth Royall said in 1987. There was just one obstacle. To make Kentucky Derby-style racing work, gambling-averse North Carolina would have to allow pari-mutuel betting. Royall, a Durham Democrat who was majority leader and appropriations chairman, wasn’t powerful enough to make that happen. The plan collapsed. But Terry was right about one thing: Horses are big business. That is evident today in Polk County, a scenic land of 20,000 people wedged between Rutherford and Henderson counties on the South Carolina state line. Polk County is home to the new Tryon International Equestrian Center, which simply must be seen to be believed. …
  • “Experts say changing trade pacts could hurt North Carolina,” News & Observer: WASHINGTON Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both want to make changes to trade agreements to bring jobs back to the United States, but experts say those changes could put additional pressure on North Carolina industries that have already suffered from recent international commerce pacts. Republican presidential candidate Trump says he would shred the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allows Canada, Mexico and the United States to conduct business with one another without racking up steep export tariffs. Democratic presumptive nominee Clinton has said that she would like to renegotiate that agreement and review the Trans-Pacific Partnership plan to strengthen economic ties between a dozen different countries. The push to address the job losses that the trade agreements are blamed for causing in states such as North Carolina has become a central issue in this year’s presidential campaign. North Carolina has shed more than 348,000 manufacturing jobs since the implementation of NAFTA in 1990s. …
  • “Companies explore safer pesticides,” Fayetteville Observer: ST. LOUIS – If not treated, the invasive varroa mite will almost certainly show up in a honeybee hive, latching on to the pollinators, feeding off their internal fluids and threatening to weaken the colony to the point of collapse. Western bees never evolved defenses to the Asian parasite, brought to North America about 30 years ago. Many of the existing treatments are mite-targeting pesticides that can damage the bees or their honey. It’s a problem Monsanto scientists think they can help solve by tailoring a treatment with far more specificity than synthetic chemicals, one that uses the language of DNA to target genes unique to only the varroa mite. And the agriculture giant thinks it can do it by simply feeding the bees a sugar solution full of RNA, the molecule that transcribes DNA’s instructions. Monsanto has already signed up 2,500 colonies around the country for trials of its bee health product, which started this year. “In all my years in the industry, I’ve never heard of this big of a trial in beekeeping,” said Jerry Hayes, who heads Monsanto’s bee health operations. The tests could prove significant, not only for honeybees crucial for pollinating the food supply, but for a technology platform that has potential applications far beyond beekeeping. Monsanto believes it will be the first of its products to market that utilize the new genetic technology, probably around 2020. …

Tar Heel Kitchen: Cheesy Squash Bake

By on July 21, 2016

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

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Thirty-three NC counties designated as Sentinel Landscape

By on July 19, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” The federal government has designated 33 counties in Eastern North Carolina as a Sentinel Landscape. This designation will include the development of voluntary

News Roundup

News Roundup: July 9-15

By on July 15, 2016

Each week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. “New program to conserve environment near military installations in the East,” WNCT: (Video) A federal


Tar Heel Kitchen: Minted Melon Balls

By on July 14, 2016

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


Bradford pear under fire from bacterial disease

By on July 13, 2016

If you have a Bradford pear in your yard, you may have noticed it is adorned with dead leaves and brown and curled branch tips this year. The problem goes far beyond your own front yard though; across the state,

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Plantings of corn, sweet potatoes are forecast to be higher than last year

By on July 12, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” The USDA has released its updated acreage forecast for North Carolina, and the report says there will be more corn and sweet potatoes this

News Roundup

News Roundup: July 2-8

By on July 8, 2016

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. “Senate backs bill to backs bill to label genetically modified food,” Charlotte Observer: Food packages nationwide


Got to be NC Recipes: Bone Suckin’ Sauce and Peaches

By on July 7, 2016

Peaches are popping up at farmers markets across North Carolina, which makes this a great time of year to enjoy peach ice cream, cobbler or even just plain peaches. There’s no wrong way to enjoy a peach – no matter

Ben Kniceley

This NC Forest Service ranger is also a champion lumberjack

By on July 6, 2016

When Ben Kniceley joined the N.C. Forest Service as the Duplin County assistant ranger in March, he brought with him the title of 2015 Stihl Timbersports U.S. Collegiate Champion. Last year, Kniceley placed first in the collegiate qualifier in Pennsylvania, which earned him a