News Roundup: Aug. 29 – Sept. 4

By on September 4, 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.

  • “NC wages battle against ginseng poachers ,” Charlotte Observer: North Carolina officials are continuing their fight against repeat poachers as the ginseng harvest season begins. The demand for wild ginseng is high. The state estimates that the ginseng industry brings more than $3 million per year. It is sold as an energy enhancer, aphrodisiac and health tonic. China is the largest consumer of ginseng, where people have used the plants for thousands of years. Over-harvesting has caused Asian ginseng to become nearly extinct, making the American version even more valuable. The ginseng harvest season started this week and continues through mid-September, and is only legal in national parks with a permit. The U.S. Forest Service issues 136 annual permits for the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests through a lottery system that is run by the district offices. …
  • “Study finds hog farm waste in NC waters, but significance is disputed,” The News & Observer: Industrialized animal farms put inexpensive meat on Americans’ dinner tables, but these farms also have been linked to serious environmental and human health problems. This summer, a long-awaited study on the effect of such farms on North Carolina water quality was released, but how its results will be interpreted by regulators remains unclear. The study, conducted by Stephen Harden of the U.S. Geological Survey, found higher levels of ammonia and nitrates in streams near concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Other water quality indicators, including phosphorous and total organic nitrogen, were not higher near CAFOs. Ammonia and nitrates are forms of nitrogen, a component of animal waste and fertilizer. In streams, nitrogen acts as a fertilizer, causing algal blooms that can kill fish. In drinking water, high levels of nitrates can cause a potentially fatal blood disorder called “blue baby syndrome” in infants. …
  •  “Enjoying N.C.-grown apples is perfect way to welcome fall,” Fayetteville Observer: Don’t get Jack Ruff started on the relative quality of North Carolina vs. Washington state apples. “Our apples will be fresher and they really do taste better because we don’t have to ship them as far,” Ruff said. “Not that I’m biased or anything.” It’s true that Ruff is hardly impartial in the matter – he’s a marketing specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture. But it’s also true that North Carolina bows to no state when it comes to the quality of the fall fruit. …
  • “Farm aims to supply schools, community with fresh produce,” Wilmington StarNews: Two roosters chase each other around Matt Collogan’s backyard, a scuffle in the ongoing battle for dominance of the flock. Other chickens take dust baths in a ditch, and a shy hen named Little Bit — aloof after being picked on by the other birds — pecks on her own near the greenhouse. “We call it chicken TV,” Collogan says. He raised the flock of Ancona chickens — a Mediterranean breed that lays large white eggs — from chicks at his home off Castle Hayne Road. Over the months he’s learned everything about them, from Little Bit’s habit of sleeping on a kayak in the barn to how he can grow the flock to produce eggs for nearby Wrightsboro Elementary School and Wilmington restaurants. “One idea that we’re promoting is empowering everybody where you’re at, so place-based economy. And food is a big part of it,” Collogan said. “Like these guys, these are egg-laying chickens. … In just a couple generations the idea is you can breed back really great working heritage breed birds.” …
  • “Poultry Farmers Watch the Sky,” CoastalReview.org: The seasons are getting ready to change, and with the shortening days will come the sight of flocks of ducks and geese flying south for the winter. But some in North Carolina are dreading the arrival of our feathered winter residents. For the most part, those are poultry farmers who’ve watched a highly pathogenic form of avian influenza, or bird flu, devastate farms in the Midwestern U.S. The disease has required the culling of millions of chickens, turkeys and ducks, driving farms into financial peril, affecting the nation’s egg supply and increasing the prices of chicken and eggs. …
  • “Pender, Duplin farmers gather to learn how to better manage crops,” Topsail Advertiser: Hank Bond’s family farm was the site for more than 50 Pender and Duplin county farmers to gather July 27 for a Twilight Corn Row Farm tour. Hosted by Bond and the Pender County Ag Extension office, the event served as a learning occasion for farmers to enhance growth in their soybean and corn crop production. Bond’s farm serves as a test site for multiple seed companies to display and grow their products while educating farmers about how they can maximize the fullest yield from the crop. Beginning with an introductory dinner at the Bond farm shop, the farmers would soon be directed to a test field of soybeans where Dr. Jim Dunphy, a soybean production specialist with N.C. State University, discussed the balance of pesticides on soybeans. “We teach our farmers right from wrong,” said Dunphy, in regards to the variety of chemicals a farmer can or may need to use to make the crop grow or protect it from pests. …
  • “Business is thinking small and green,” Winston-Salem Journal: Microgreen King in Boonville grows microgreens hydroponically for local markets. Shawn and Karen King grow their microgreens to a height of about 2 inches before harvesting. When Shawn and Karen King came up with a plan for their business, they were thinking small — very small. The Kings are the owners of Microgreen King in Boonville. In a specially made building behind their home, they grow thousands of tiny vegetable plants in water. These are microgreens, and they became a hot trend for restaurants a few years ago because they make an attractive garnish on plates. But now they’ve become even more attractive because research has shown that they are very nutritious. And they have a lot of flavor, too. …
  • “North Carolina celebrates Wine and Grape Month in September,” Elizabethtown Bladen Journal: September is N.C. Wine and Grape Month, and wineries and vineyards across the state are planning wine tastings, grape stomps and other special events to celebrate the industry. “There’s a lot to celebrate,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The wine and grape industry contributes more than $1.7 billion to the state’s economy and creates jobs for nearly 8,000 people.” North Carolina is home to 159 wineries, from recent newcomers such as Jones vonDrehle Vineyards and Winery in Thurmond to established brands such as Biltmore Winery in Asheville. The majority of the wineries are considered small, producing less than 5,000 nine-liter cases annually. About 20 percent of all N.C. wine is sold directly to consumers. …
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