News Roundup: Sept. 12-18

By on September 18, 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.

  • “Watauga County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Ginseng Poacher, Charged With Felony,” High Country Press: This past weekend, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office arrested Eric Moretz, 27, of 1351 Brownwood Road in Deep Gap, for poaching ginseng in a wooded area near Blowing Rock and charged him with a felony for poaching ginseng. This comes several months to a year after the agricultural community applauded the first-ever felony conviction for poaching ginseng on private property in North Carolina. According to an incident report, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call of a “suspicious person” walking out of the woods near Niley Cook Road with a machete on Sept. 12 at about 1:45 p.m. Deputies walked along the trails and found Moretz, who eventually admitted to poaching ginseng. He possessed four ginseng roots at the time of the arrest. Prior to poaching the ginseng, the property caretaker had personally warned Moretz to stay off the property, according to the call log. The arrests comes days after Watauga County Extension Director Jim Hamilton and N.C. Department of Agriculture Plant Conservation Program Administrator David Welch met with about dozen individuals with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office to present info about the economic impact of ginseng in the county, to let them know about potential charges and to answer any questions officers might have about ginseng. …
  • “North Carolina Distilleries Allowed to Sell to Tourists Starting October,”  TWC News: (Video) The craft distillery business is booming across the state of North Carolina. “It’s really a fundamental art that goes back since colonial days,” said Donald Walton, president of Walton’s Distillery. From Jacksonville to Asheville, there are 25 distilleries so far, and that number is growing. “People in North Carolina…entrepreneurs are coming in. They’re using family recipes a lot of times or creating their own recipes. It’s really the unique culture that is taking over North Carolina,” said Paul Jones, public information officer for NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. …
  •  “Mountain State Fair off to strong start,” Hendersonville Times News: Brisk temperatures and steady winds were heralding the beginning of fall Sunday morning, but they didn’t slow down the crowds streaming into the WNC Ag Center for the third day of the 21st annual North Carolina Mountain State Fair. In the shadows of behemoth rides spinning and swaying overhead, crowds meandered through lanes of booths selling lemonade and funnel cakes and giant turkey legs and booths tempting them to try their luck at skee ball and baseball and ring toss. Along the back edge of the fair just before 11 a.m., Sunday, Dennis Cook was getting ready for the crowd that was about to appear outside his small sawdust-laden racetrack to fill his bleachers and the crowd around the low red fence.  …
  • “Clinton project would convert turkey droppings into a gas for energy,” The News & Observer: A proposal to convert turkey droppings into electricity in Clinton would be first in North Carolina to turn the bird waste into an energy-rich gas rather than burning the dung as a fuel. Prestage AgEnergy proposed a facility last week to generate steam for its own use and electricity for Duke Energy Progress, using turkey droppings supplied by more than 50 farms in eastern North Carolina. The N.C. Utilities Commission is likely to approve the 1.6-megawatt project this year, and it could be generating electricity as early as January if the power company agrees to buy the electricity output. …
  • “Get lost in this Beaufort County corn maze this fall,” WNCT: Fall is just around the corner. And with our first real round of cooler weather here in the East, it won’t be long before corn mazes like this one get pretty busy. This 8 acre maze at the Raised in a Barn Farm in Beaufort County is actually a sorghum maze if you want to get technical. But putting that aside, the owner and manager here wanted the maze to be something special for Chocowinity. ”The design of the maze was a little more intricate,” said Mandie Boahn, manager of the Raised in a Barn farm. “We try to do things that really support our community, and so with that being said, we used our town name. So we want to put Chocowinity on the map.” And that they did. It took a corn maze expert 5 to 6 hours to cut 3 separate mazes totaling a little over 4 miles. He did it all in one day using some high tech equipment: a GPS guided tractor. This is the first year the farm has had a maze…and the owners wanted to make sure they stayed true to their commitment to the community. …
  • “N.C. Officials Stop Sale of Potentially Contaminated Alfalfa,” The Horse: North Carolina state officials issued a stop-sale order Monday (Sept. 14) on alfalfa hay received from Kansas and being sold at Murphy Farm Hay and Feed in Louisburg and Jones Farm Hay and Feed in Middlesex for blister beetle contamination, which can be deadly for horses. Store owners voluntarily recalled the alfalfa hay when they learned about the possible contamination and are cooperating with feed inspectors from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to notify any animal owners who might have purchased the alfalfa hay. The hay was delivered from Kansas and sold at the stores during recent weeks. “Department feed inspectors are conducting tracebacks to determine whether any other feed stores received alfalfa hay from the same source in Kansas,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “While the investigation into this case is ongoing, we wanted to alert animal owners, especially those in the equine community, to this situation.” …
  • “Pumpkin growin’ ain’t easy in the East,” WNCT: Farmers grow a lot of things in the East, but only a few grow this fall favorite: pumpkins. Orange pumpkin, white pumpkin, big pumpkin, small pumpkin. Porter Farm in Lenoir County grows them all. But the climate here in the East makes it a challenge. ”We have a high humidity and just diseases thrive in this environment,” said Stephen Porter, owner of Porter Farms in Lenoir County. “That’s why a lot of people in this…it’s a very intense managed crop.” And that proved true this year too. Mother nature dealt pumpkin farmers a tough card here in the East. …
  • “Virginia, North Carolina cotton farmers face growing plant bug problem,” Southeast Farm Press: Plant bugs are becoming a bigger and bigger challenge for farmers in Virginia and North Carolina. At the Virginia-Northeast North Carolina Cotton Field Day held Aug. 11 at Virginia Tech’s Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Virginia Tech Entomologist Ames Herbert and Dominic Reisig, North Carolina State University Extension entomologist, outlined some of their plans and strategies for plant bug control in region. “In the Mid-south they have developed a lot of research on plant bugs because they have had a lot of plant bug pressure. It’s newer for us in the East. We’re seeing it now and we’re seeing it more and we’ve had some heavy hits in Virginia and some heavy hits in North Carolina,” Herbert said the field day. …
  • “Grape growers find industry blooming in North Carolina,” Winston-Salem Journal: People who grow grapes in Davidson County are a pretty close bunch, and they recognize they are part of a rising industry in North Carolina. In an area where agricultural roots go deep, growing and manufacturing of grapes and their subsidiary industries is beginning to bloom into a sustainable and profitable endeavor. According to a recent study by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the wine and grape industry had a $1.7 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2013, which is an increase of more than 33 percent since 2009. …
  • “It’s a honey of a time at Asheville, Buncombe markets,” Asheville Citizen-Times: It has been a light year for honey, according to apiaries at area farmers tailgate markets. Honey has always been a special, prized treat in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, but on a year such as this — drought-like conditions scattered throughout the growing season — it is even more dear. Dan deBettencourt of Swarm Apiary (find him at Asheville City Market) says that the dry weather made the late-summer production of honey from basswood and sourwood trees minimal, and so the bees began to eat their stores of honey from the spring. …
  • “State agency sets meeting on ‘severe’ gypsy moth infestation in Buxton Woods,” Island Free Press: (Photos) The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Plant Industry Division has scheduled a public meeting for Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Fessenden Center on Highway 12 in Buxton. At the meeting, division officials will present a plan to eradicate a severe, isolated infestation of the invasive gypsy moth in the Buxton Woods State Reserve area of Buxton and Frisco — an infestation that threatens the maritime forest’s live oak trees with defoliation and eventually death. …
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