News Roundup: Jan. 2-8

By on January 8, 2016

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

  • “Ban on poultry shows, sales lifted,” Jacksonville Daily News: Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced today that the suspension of live poultry shows and sales has been lifted, a week earlier than when the ban was set to expire. Troxler also released the registration requirements for small flock owners. “I promised at the beginning that we would review the ban in January, and now it looks as if it is safe to go ahead and lift the restrictions,” Troxler said in a press release announcing the move. The suspension and registration requirements were announced in June as a response to the introduction and spread of highly pathogenic avian flu. The N.C. suspension, along with the flock registration requirement, was put in place in August. HPAI has not been found in the U.S. since June, but poultry health experts haven’t ruled out the possibility of a reintroduction by migratory birds. …
  • “Are potash recommendations right for North Carolina’s production practices?” Southeast Farm Press: For the past few years, David Hardy, who runs the soil testing laboratory at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, has received a common question from farmers across the state: “Are the department’s potash fertility recommendations adequate?” For the most part, Hardy believes the recommendations are adequate, but he acknowledges that production practices have certainly changed in the Tar Heel State since the recommendations were made more than 30 years ago. “We’ve seen a lot of varietal and tillage changes over the past 30 years. No-till was still in its infancy back in the early 1980s. Today, we have better insect and weed control and higher plant populations and more irrigation. A lot of production practices have changed,” Hardy said at the annual convention of the North Carolina Agricultural Consultants Association Dec. 3 in Raleigh. “We think that higher yields demand more nutrients. It’s logical to think that. Fertility is more on the radar in the past five to six years. I have been asked how low can I go with P (phosphorus) and K (potash) and still get by because P and k were so highly priced,” Hardy said. …
  • “Prestage eyes expansion,” Sampson Independent: Pork and poultry production leader Prestage Farms is seeking to expand its renewable energy division in Sampson County, but said the location of that $10 million investment was contingent on local incentives — local officials approved offering those this week. Prestage AgEnergy, a division of Prestage Farms dedicated to making animal production sustainable economically and environmentally, has begun construction on a new poultry litter-fueled power plant that will be located at the Moltonville feed mill off Moltonville Road near N.C. 24. The new power plant will bring with it a taxable investment of $18 million, while creating 15 full-time jobs at an average $60,000 salary. The new plant will be in operation in the first quarter of 2017. It will provide the ability to generate electricity to power the feed mill, while the excess electricity produced would be sold to Duke Progress Energy. Prestage will utilize steam produced at this plant within mill production process, as well as package and sell the ash produced as a byproduct. …
  • “Hemp legal, but needs private funds,” Technician: Industrial hemp has taken a big step forward on the long road back from being named a Schedule 1 drug in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. From being considered a narcotic along with the likes of heroin, LSD and ecstasy, the non-psychoactive member of the Cannabis family became legal to grow in North Carolina when Gov. Pat McCrory allowed Senate Bill 313 to go un-vetoed in late October. Senate Bill 313 authorizes an industrial hemp pilot program, a trial-run for a larger scale program, and establishes the structure and powers of a regulatory commission which will be responsible for overseeing the future pilot program participants. This commission will also be responsible for implementing university research programs. The North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association, the lobbying group that was the driving force behind this legislation, and other long-time activists are celebrating this as a victory, but now the real work begins: creating an industry from scratch. …
  • “Column: Honeybees make local crops possible,” Hendersonville Times-News: Honeybees are very important to North Carolina. Each year, honeybees kept by beekeepers in the state produce over $6 million worth of delicious honey and bee products. Some of the most popular honeys produced here are sourwood, black locust and tulip poplar. Even though honey is a popular food product, it is not the real reason for the importance of the honeybee. Beeswax, Royal Jelly, Bee Pollen and Other Hive Products – North Carolina beekeepers produce a wide variety of bee products from the beehive with the aid of their honeybees. These products have a variety of uses such as beeswax for candles and cosmetics, royal jelly for cosmetics, bee pollen as a protein source, and more. These products are very popular as health foods and cosmetics, but they are not the main importance of honeybees in the state. Pollination is defined as the transfer of pollen (the male portion of a flower) to the female portion, which is then followed by fertilization and the production of fruit and/or seeds. Honeybees are undoubtedly the most important pollinators of food crops for humans and probably of food for wildlife in the state and the entire nation. This is the main importance of honeybees. …
  • “Weather is giving farmers headaches,” The News & Observer: Johnston County strawberries think it’s springtime, and who can blame them? This past December has been springlike in practically every measure kept by the N.C. Climate Office’s Clayton station. It’s been warm, wet and humid, and county agricultural leaders are seeing crop cycles out of whack and harvests sold off for losses or left in the field to rot. The average daily temperature of 55 degrees is at least seven degrees warmer than the last four Decembers. Perhaps more telling, in the last four years, the average low temperature for December has been in the 30s; in December 2015, it was 46. Bryant Spivey is director of the Johnston County Cooperative Extension Service. He said corn, cotton and tobacco harvests came in fine, but farmers have largely left their soybeans and peanuts in the field. “If you think back to the fall, we’ve had fairly wet soil conditions and almost no cold weather,” Spivey said. “Soybean harvests normally go best when we have dry days. … We’ve just had such high moisture, many days it’s not appropriate to pick soybeans. You’ve got to have dry days to get it done.” Spivey said some soybean growers waited for dry days that never came and started to see damaged pods, cutting into what the crop will fetch at market. “Some have seen 100 percent damage, leading to severe discounts when brought to the mill,” Spivey said. …
  • “Local farmers hope cold will help summer fruit,” WGHP: Rick Langhorne has been growing blueberries and other fruits in Guilford County since the early 1980s. He can’t recall a warm December like the one we just had. And he can’t recall so many blueberries blooming in winter. Langhorne says the record-breaking warmth of December caused his southern highbush blueberries to bloom and set fruit. He likes to grow the berries because highbush berries satisfy the early demand for blueberries. “These are important because these get ripe right when it’s not so hot. People like to come out on a cool June day. When it get’s hot in July, it’s not as much fun,” Langhorne said. Without the fruit, Langhorne will rely on rabbiteye blueberries. “Should have a really good crop on these this year. They are ahead of schedule. Blooms are swollen but not enough where a 20 degree night is going to hurt them.” …
  • “Poultry bedding represents first success from Repreve Renewables,” Winston-Salem Journal: The Thrivez Poultry Bedding, which increases dryness and reduces odor in chicken houses, is made from grass grown near customers. Expanding the Repreve brand doesn’t just mean Unifi Inc. trying to land new apparel and automotive clients for its recycled high-performance yarns. The Greensboro manufacturer, with its largest U.S. manufacturing presence in Yadkinville with about 950 employees, has been pursuing for more than 6½ years a sustainable agriculture product mix with its Repreve Renewables LLC joint venture. Unifi holds a 60 percent interest in Repreve Renewables, a biomass feedstock company that focuses on the direct sales of Freedom Giant Miscanthus to farmers. According to some analysts, this type of grass is extremely efficient in converting sunlight to biomass energy, and produces more fuel than any other biofuel source. …
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