News Roundup: Feb. 7-13

By on February 13, 2015

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. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  •  “Plant-grafting business breaks ground in Mills River,” Hendersonville Times-News: Despite temperatures in the 20s and wind chills in the teens, local elected officials gave a warm welcome to a budding plant-grafting company that plans to invest millions of dollars here during a Thursday groundbreaking ceremony. A collaboration between Israeli, Italian and U.S. companies, Tri-Hishtil hopes to have the first grafted watermelon plants produced by December 2015, said General Manager Bert Lemkes, who previously held that title at the neighboring Van Wingerden greenhouses. …
  • “NC Dept. of Agriculture Helping Local Farmers Expand Business, Sell to Large Retailers,” TWC News: The North Carolina Department of Agriculture is working with farmers to help them grow their businesses and sell to larger retailers. More than 50 farmers from across the state met with representatives of Harris Teeter in Concord on Thursday to learn how to get their products on the grocer’s shelves. Elizabeth Dover, who runs the Farm at Dover Vineyards in Concord, came to the meeting to see what it would take to sell to large retailers. Dover oversees a six acre vegetable farm and a four acre vineyard.  …
  • “Local Chocolate to Love,” Winston-Salem Journal: If you love local food and your Valentine loves chocolate, support the local economy and make your loved one happy with a gift of local chocolate. In Winston-Salem, two small businesses are making chocolate from scratch, starting with cacao beans that they roast themselves. And they are winning national and international awards. …
  • “$250K grant to help hurting hemlocks,” Hendersonville Times-News: More help is on the way for North Carolina’s bug-ravaged hemlocks, N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced Tuesday. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will use $250,000 the state won in a legal settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to continue a three-year Hemlock Restoration Initiative that began in 2014. The money will be used to treat bug-infested hemlocks on state and private lands; hire a full-time state coordinator focused on saving the trees; and attract matching funds from the U.S. Forest Service, private foundations and individuals. Eastern and Carolina hemlocks across Western North Carolina are being decimated by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an exotic insect that sucks the sap from young twigs, eventually killing the trees.  …
  • “Local growers fighting blueberry eating bugs,” WGHP: Good weather is not the only thing a farmer needs to grow a good crop. Rockingham County blueberry grower David Moore says a successful farmer needs to spend time in the classroom. “When you are growing a crop to sell to the public, you need to know everything. A lot of science and research, more than just the growing process,” he said. So on Tuesday afternoon, Rockingham County blueberry growers grabbed their pen and pad and took notes on how to defeat the spotted winged drosophila. …
  • “Opening new markets for small farms,” Richmond County Daily Journal: Imagine that you are a small farmer, which means you probably also work a full time job somewhere else and spend your weekends and nights cultivating, spraying, harvesting — the work is endless. And on top of all of the tasks that must be done, you have to find somewhere to sell your crops. Every sales scenario comes with a set of rules and regulations for your compliance. Selling to distributors or restaurants often requires GAP — or Good Agricultural Practices — certification. Schools and institutions want the produce washed and diced, and that requires having a certified facility.  …
  • “Profitable sorghum gets North Carolina farmers’ attention,” Southeast Farm Press: For years, the poultry and livestock industry has been North Carolina’s largest source of agricultural income and jobs, but the industry’s future is in peril because of a 200-million-bushel-a-year feed grain deficit. As part of the North Carolina Feed Grain Initiative, North Carolina farmers are planting some 500,000 acres more in feed grains than they did in 2010, cutting the amount of feed imported to the state from the Midwest grain belt and overseas by 19 percent. Being able to buy grains locally has made a big difference – millions of dollars’ worth of a difference – for livestock and poultry producers, because it cuts the cost of transporting grains to feed North Carolina-grown animals.  …
  • “Mom-and-pop farming on the rise in our area,” Gaston Gazette: Duane Digh learned to kill and clean a chicken on YouTube. You do what you can when life throws you a curve ball.
    Digh was a store manager, and his wife, Cindy, did office work before they unexpectedly lost their jobs. Already farming a small plot of land off Gastonia Highway, the Dighs decided to dig deep and become full-time Gaston County farmers. Starting such a physical career isn’t easy, especially in your 50s, but a little determination goes a long way, Cindy said. “It was definitely some adjustment, especially on your back,” she said. “I guess when you like what you do, you can overcome and adapt.”  …
  • “Partnerships will Drive the Future of Agriculture,” Southern Farm Network: NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler delivered his annual State of Agriculture Address yesterday at the 10th Annual Ag Forum. This year’s talk focused on research and relationships: “The truth of the matter is, we got where we are today through agricultural research.” Not only has agricultural research gotten us to where we are today, Troxler says it’s going to get us where we need to go: “Think about all of the technological improvement, and seed variety, and new ideas in production. We have been innovative and its gotten us to this point. Agricultural research has gotten us here today, but its even more important for the future. As we try to meet worldwide food demand, we will need 50-100% more food by 2050.” The one constant that farmers have never been able to control…the weather, has been tamed to a certain degree by research: “We produce crops in conditions that we never could before. That must continue in the future to meet the food demand.” …

 

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