News Roundup: May 7 – 13

By on May 13, 2016

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.

  • “Meet Asheville’s cauliflower power broker,” Asheville Citizen-Times: According to Kendall Huntley, thinking on your feet is a mountain thing. It’s in his blood like banjo music, like farming. The men who came before him in his family knew all three well. “My family’s been here for centuries, so the things that come with the mountains come with my family,” Huntley said. “We’re just local mountain folk.” But Huntley is part of a new brand of farmer. One who thinks about organics, spent grains and uses terms like “closed-loop local system.” Bearded and stocky, the 39-year-old farmer has his hands in more than organic dirt. He’s also a local vegetable broker and the owner of the new Whispersholler Farms Market, an open-air farm stand and market at the Asheville Food Park on Amboy Road. He plays banjo in a bluegrass band called the Bald Mountain Boys, raises animals for his wholesale meat business and manages 20 acres of land scattered through Arden, Candler and Burnsville. …
  • “Hail Damages Newly Set Tobacco,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) With the wild spring weather that we’ve had the last couple of weeks, it was a foregone conclusion that hail would be involved at some point, and unfortunately some fell on newly set tobacco says Bryant Spivey, Director of Johnston County Extension: “To be honest, we’ve had hail in several locations, some around Smithfield on Tuesday night, and also there was some up around Flowers, and other locations. Some of that was fairly light in nature…I mean it was bad enough, but in most cases, it won’t require replanting crops in those areas. But, we had a severe hail storm on Thursday morning, and that hail storm came around about 11:00 in the morning, kind of a rare occurrence to think of a hail storm in the morning, and temperatures were also fairly cool at the time. But that storm was around Benson, from Dunn, then south of Benson, in the Meadow community, in that area, and got a fair amount of damage in that area. It was fairly small-sized hail, marble-sized, but there was just a great deal of it. So, we do have some fields that were heavily damaged in that location.” …
  • “Looking for a true malting barley in North Carolina,” Southeast Farm Press: Demand for malting barley is strong and growing in North Carolina because of the burgeoning craft beer industry in the state. Microbrewers in Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville and other cities are seeking locally grown barley to meet their needs. Winter barley has been grown in North Carolina for animal feed since the 1950s. Researchers at North Carolina State University are working to develop barley varieties with malting qualities brewers prefer rather than feed barley traits. “All that malt in barley is germinated barley seed. The quality of that malt varies quite a bit. If you have a barley that has malt qualities, the brewers and distillers will like it much more than trying to malt a feed-type barley,” explained Dave Marshall, a USDA Agricultural Research Service plant pathologist at N.C. State, speaking at the 2016 Central Piedmont Small Grains Field Day April 21. “We want to have completely born and bred malting barley in North Carolina. We have a few that look extremely good this year with good winter hardiness and a good disease package as well. We hope to have these barley varieties to seedsmen by the fall of 2017,” Marshall said. …
  • “North Carolina sweet potato exports on pace for record year,” The Produce News: From 2009 to 2014, per capita sweet potato consumption grew 60 percent in the United States to 7.5 pounds, led by North Carolina, where about half of all domestic sweet potatoes are grown, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. North Carolina has also been investing to develop export markets, particularly in Europe, where sweet potatoes are not a traditional part of the diet. Sweet potato popularity has taken off with a 400 percent increase in sales since 2009 and a 30 percent increase in 2015 alone. Already this year the dollar value of shipments is tracking 30 percent ahead of 2015’s record year, which exceeded $100 million for the first time. The United Kingdom receives over half of all exports from North Carolina, followed by the Netherlands and Canada. Belgium and Germany have seen big bumps in recent years and new markets like Norway are taking off. Sweet potatoes are an unfamiliar food for many Europeans, but their sweet flavor, healthy profile and versatility are quickly winning over new consumers. The North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission has partnered with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ International Trade Office to run education and promotion campaigns to introduce sweet potatoes to Europeans and show how to prepare and enjoy them. Current NCSPC Executive Director Kelly McIver came from NDACS’ marketing division and managed those programs. “Introducing sweet potatoes to Europe gave us an opportunity to build our story for this ‘exotic’ vegetable,” McIver said in a press release. “We executed an integrated campaign that reached the trade, media and consumers to make N.C. sweet potatoes part of their diet.” …
  • “WNC Farmers Market – A Top Rated Historic Destination,” WNC Mountains Magazine: It seems kind of crazy when you get excited over Herbs, Flowers, Lotions, Potions and Food, but when you go to the Western North Carolina FARMERS MARKET in Asheville, you won’t be the only one. That place is crawling with people running to and fro gathering just about anything they can carry. It is really one exciting adventure in living the farmer’s dream without having to plow the fields. …
  • “22nd Century explores growing cannabis in tobacco plants,” Winston-Salem Journal: Developing tobacco plants into a source of cannabis for medical purposes is the goal of a biotechnology company with operations in Mocksville. 22nd Century Group Inc. said Thursday it has opened molecular biology laboratories on the Buffalo Niagara Medical campus that are focused in research involving industrial hemp/cannabis and tobacco. Based in Clarence, N.Y., 22nd Century opened cigarette manufacturing operations in Mocksville in 2014 through acquiring the production equipment of defunct Renegade Tobacco Inc. It has 39 employees overall. The company’s main focus is producing very-low-nicotine traditional cigarettes. It has applied to the Food and Drug Administration for approval to sell and market the cigarettes as a reduced-risk tobacco option. …
  • “A berry good lunch: Local strawberries a treat for students,” Salisbury Post: Sophia, a third grader at Millbridge Elementary, loves strawberries. “I almost ate a whole Patterson’s bucket last night,” she said. When she walked through the lunch line on Thursday, she, and other Millbridge students, got a surprise – fresh, N.C. strawberries for lunch. Rowan-Salisbury School Nutrition Supervisor Kimberly Hurley said the fruit is part of a farm-to-table initiative the school system takes part in. Every two weeks, a shipment of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms is delivered. “There’s always something new,” Hurley said. The system gets everything from lettuce to sweet potatoes and peaches from N.C. farms, and Hurley said they try to buy produce as locally as possible. And when it comes to strawberries, that means Patterson Farms. …
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