News Roundup: Nov. 8-14

By on November 14, 2014

newsroundup11Each week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  •  “Work doesn’t end for apple farmers when fruit is picked,” Hendersonville Times-News: As Henderson County’s apple farmers wrap up a mixed season this month, their work is far from over. Now comes the pruning, raking, preventative spraying and repairs that lay the foundation for next year’s crop. With the exception of Sky Top Orchard outside Flat Rock, most u-pick and pre-picked operations have closed for the season, including Grandad’s Apples and J.H. Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard. Meanwhile, commercial growers are picking the dregs of their late-season varieties, including a few Pink Ladies and Gold Rushes. But even when those are gone, farmers don’t have time to rest on their laurels. “A lot of people will be raking orchards and as these apples are in cold storage, we’ll start hauling apples to shipping facilities,” said farmer Kenny Barnwell. “Then you have to repair all your boxes, and by the time you’re done pruning, it’s time to start spraying again.” …
  • “Organic Strawberry Research Gets $200,000 Boost From Walmart,” Growing Produce: With an additional $200,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, scientists from the University of Florida and North Carolina A&T University are expanding grower engagement in organic strawberry research. While the focus of the 2013-2014 work was broad and exploratory, a key component of this year’s research will be to test the best aspects of the organic strawberry production system under farm conditions and with grower management. Growers at three farms in North Central Florida are assessing two cover crops and three commercial strawberry cultivars that performed well in last year’s Phase I trials. Grower evaluations of the Phase I research resulted in suggestions that researchers assess cover crop combinations as well as a cover crop that could produce a marketable product. In Phase II, scientists will evaluate the on-station and on-farm research for seasonal variability in market yield, nutrient-use efficiency, consumer acceptance and response to postharvest handling and storage. …
  • “Demand pushes Pittsboro’s Farm Boy Farms to double in size,” Triangle Business Journal: Farm Boy Farms of Pittsboro – a local provider of barley, wheat and malt for craft beer – is doubling in size, which means more local ingredients could work their way into local craft beer. In 2012, the state had 85 breweries, it had 123 breweries by 2013 and currently has 146 breweries – most of which are craft breweries. Plenty of craft brewers believe part of creating a quality product means sourcing ingredients locally, driving the need for farm owner Dan Gridley to expand. “We are doubling our American Malting Barley Association-recommended two-row barley acreage from 25 acres to 50 acres,” says Gridley. “We are also adding five acres of rye and networking with other area growers to provide us wheat.” According to Gridley, more than half of next year’s hops crop has been contracted with existing and soon-to-be established Triangle breweries, but he isn’t disclosing which ones. …
  • “Women In The Meat Business,” WUNC: As the demand for local food and farm-to-table restaurants rises, the American agriculture and food production industries are expanding. Burgeoning local food systems have opened up opportunities for more women to own and operate businesses throughout the supply chain, especially in the meat industry. Farms and ranches operated by women have more than doubled in the last 30 years, and more women are also entering the fields of livestock production, meat processing, butchery and culinary arts. But succeeding in this new landscape presents a unique set of challenges. Host Frank Stasio talks to some of the women who recently gathered for the 2nd annual Women Working in the Meat Business Conference. …
  • “Farmers harmed by decline in nation’s public seed supply,” Agriview: A much-anticipated analysis of the state of the country’s plant and animal breeding infrastructure and seed supply was released recently, marking the first such analysis in more than 10 years. The proceedings from the Summit on Seeds and Breeds for 21st Century Agriculture were published by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), a farmer-based non-profit organization located in Pittsboro, N.C., and member of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). In the proceedings, RAFI and other key stakeholders within the agricultural research community express their increased concerns about farmers’ limited access to seed, the narrowing of our country’s agricultural plant and animal genetic diversity, consolidation within the seed industry, the decline in public cultivar development, and how these trends are impacting farmers’ abilities to confront the unprecedented challenges of climate change and global food security. …
  • “WNC Farmers Market to develop 20-year master plan,” Asheville Citizen-Times: The WNC Farmers Market is asking locals to tell it what to do. The results, according to a recent press release, will be used to help develop a 20-year master plan for the market, a task that has been outsourced to Market Ventures in Portland, Maine. The master plan will propose physical upgrades to the market’s buildings, changes to operating hours, new programs and facilities for education and events. The Brevard Road market, open since 1977, is a hot spot for tourists, and ranks among the top 10 places to shop in Asheville on Tripadvisor. Even so, the market is searching for ways to stay competitive in an increasingly crowded farmers market landscape, citing the “changing needs of Western North Carolina.” Indeed, a search of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s website for “tailgate markets” turns up more than 100 results for the Western North Carolina area. …
  • “James Butler: North Carolina’s first Extension agent, hired 107 years ago this month,” Southeast Farm Press: North Carolina’s first county Extension agent was James A. Butler, who, according to the best information available, was hired Nov. 18, 1907 to work with farmers in Iredell County. Butler was paid by funds from the John D. Rockefeller-supported General Education Board to expand pioneering educational efforts, called demonstrations, taking place under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on farms in several other Southern states. Within two days of being hired, Butler had arranged for local farmer J.F. Eagles of Statesville to host the first North Carolina farm demonstration. Eagles agreed to grow 2.5 acres of corn and 2 acres of cotton according to USDA recommendations so that Butler could demonstrate to other farmers how the recommendations increased crop yields – not just in theory or in a laboratory – but under actual real-world conditions. Eagles told others that the recommendations were key to rejuvenating the worn-out soils on his farm. “I don’t think I ever would have succeeded had it not been for the use of limestone and clover,” he said. …
  • “NCDA’s Soil Testing Fee In Effect Soon,” Southern Farm Network: For the second year, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agronomic Division will have a fee for soil testing during the winter and early spring months. David Hardy, Chief of Soil testing for the Agronomic Division for NCDA: “The fee was put in place by the General Assembly to encourage people to send in soil samples at other times of the year, not just fall and winter, and to help defray the cost of overtime and temporary help during the lab’s busy soil testing season.” Hardy says the fee structure seems to have helped with the back log and turnaround time: “Farming is the first thing you think of when you think of soil testing, but soil testing is available for anyone in the state with dirt under their feet.” …

 

 

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