News Roundup: June 4 – 10

By on June 10, 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.

  • “Goat industry growing in Johnston,” News & Observer: Steve Nordan has been raising Boer goats in Johnston County for better than a decade. His children showed the animals in 4-H competitions, and now his six grandchildren will continue the tradition. For the Nordans, of Camp Branch Farms near McGee’s Crossroads, raising goats is a family affair, though not necessarily a family business. “We’re thankful if we get enough to pay for our feed,” Nordan said, laughing. The family affair began with a few goats the Nordans bought to clear some of their land. But groundskeeping soon turned to showmanship. “We’ve traveled all over the country for shows,” Nordan said, reeling off a list of states: Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and New York, among others. …
  • “NC Farmers Plant Seeds of Water and Stream Conservation,” Public News Service: Streams meander through North Carolina’s western mountains and the farms that dot the map, regardless of property lines. And now those farm owners are connecting with water conservation groups to do what the farmers can to maintain and protect the waterways. Eddie Harris owns farmland in Elkin and participated in the program, which is managed by Resource Institute, a nonprofit group that helps find and utilize funds to maximize their benefit. “I think it’s a great opportunity for farmers and landowners to take advantage of some of the conservation programs available to them,” Harris says. “It was a great benefit to the stream and the water quality in that stream, and it remains intact and has healed over and quite natural looking.” Since 2013, the Western North Carolina Stream Restoration Initiative has completed more than 80 projects. …
  • “Rare event: Ozone-caused Weather Fleck found on NC tobacco,” Southeast Farm Press: As the 2016 tobacco season rolls into June the crop as a whole still looks very solid in most of North Carolina. We continue to creep closer and closer to wrapping up transplanting since the majority of the Eastern Belt has finished; however, there’s still a respectable number of acres to set in the Old Belt. With the number of acres still left to set, Tropical Storm Bonnie was not a friend to North Carolina. To add to this system, most areas were already very wet and, at times, unseasonably cool going back two to three weeks. A small window of reprieve was felt last week when we finally had temperatures approach 90 degrees with not a cloud in sight. Overall, this crop continues to surprise me at how fast it is progressing and how good it looks — given the cool, damp weather we seem to be unable to shake. Despite having such an exceptional crop at this point we have not been without a few issues that go beyond timely transplanting and cultivating. The recent weather has brought along something we typically do not see much of in the Coastal Plain: Weather Fleck. We received a few calls and emails late the week of May 16 about odd looking spots appearing on plants almost overnight. Those communications continued into the following week and it appears this is one of the most severe Weather Fleck events documented in quite some time. …
  • “Celebrate pollination nation in Asheville,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Up to one in every three bites you take in your lifetime comes to your plate thanks to a pollinator. Though it’s likely that food was pollinated by a kind of bee, of which there are about 20,000 species, worldwide, some rather unlikely heroes make the party possible. Take midges, for example. chocolate midges, no bigger than the head of a pin, pollinate the cacao flower. Even wasps, which seem to serve little purpose but to angrily attack, help to pollinate fruits and vegetables. And bats, perhaps the most maligned (albeit unfairly) pollinators of all, have a very special task before them — making tequila possible. All pollinators great and small are the focus of the upcoming Pollination Celebration, a week of activities celebrating Asheville’s status as Bee City USA, an official designation that means the city makes an effort to create a friendly environment for bees, birds and butterflies. …
  • “Henderson County hosts Moldovan growers,” Hendersonville Times-News: North River Farms on North Mills River Road is usually open to the public for tours, but on Wednesday, owner Jason Davis led a bit of a different tour, to a group eagerly taking notes and photos and soaking up all they could about Davis’ growing techniques. The group, riding on a trailer past rows of celery, tomatoes and peppers, saw how Davis uses plastic for his vegetables, a drip irrigation system and even a shed where he mixes chemicals, with runoff contained to make sure that no herbicides or pesticides make it into the nearby Mills River. …
  • “Gaia Herbs begins multi-million dollar expansion,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Gone are the days when natural foods were relegated to small co-ops and grocery stores. Today, three out of four grocery stores contain organic food, and that sector consistently shows double-digit growth, according to the USDA.
    Gaia Herbs, a Brevard- and Mills River-based supplement manufacturer, is growing, too. Wednesday the company announced an expansion that will bring about $5 million in capital investment and dozens of new jobs. It’s already hiring for 25 of those positions…
  • “Vertical tillage works well with no-till but can it build yields?” Southeast Farm Press: North Carolina State University has begun a 10-year study at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury to see how vertical tillage might be used to increase yields and improve soil health. Alan Franzluebbers, a USDA Agricultural Research Service soil scientist at North Carolina State University, said the study was implemented by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture due to a strong interest in vertical tillage from farmers in the Piedmont. In vertical tillage, surface crop residues are cut up and only lightly incorporated with soil. Vertical tillage could allow for a more uniform wheat stand following crops with heavy residues, and therefore higher yields. Franzluebbers said vertical tillage works well with no-tillage, allowing farmers to otherwise maintain no-tillage in their operations. “The soil is not inverted, just lightly cut at the surface. The implements are just running through the soil, not turning it over,” Franzluebbers explained at the 2016 Central Piedmont Small Grains Field Day at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury. In the study, N.C. State will compare light turbo tillage or vertical tillage and heavy turbo tillage to no tillage, which has been utilized at the station for a number of years now. The study is a collaboration among N.C. State, N.C. Department of Agriculture, N.C. Cooperative Extension, and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. …
  • “Recent Bad Weather Now Affecting Carteret County Crops,” Time Warner Cable News: (Video) BEAUFORT — Recent wet weather is making life difficult for farmers in Carteret County this season. Open Grounds Farm in Beaufort said past storms like Bonnie and Colin have left up to 10 inches of rain in certain areas of their land. The farm produces soy beans and corn and they say so far the root system of the plant can’t breathe due to too much standing water. Although conditions aren’t that great, the farmers are remaining hopeful they’ll have better weather during the summer. Open Grounds Farm said bad weather could affect their harvest this year which occurs in August.
  • “Naylor uses platform to promote ag,” Sampson Independent: Jocelyn Naylor holds farming in high esteem and has made it her goal to engage young children about the importance of agriculture, not only in this community but across the globe. As the new Miss Spivey’s Corner, Naylor’s primary initiative is P.L.A.N.T. (Promoting Livestock and Agricultural Needs of Today). That initiative includes Crop in a Cup, in which she travels to elementary school across Sampson and beyond, explaining the importance of North Carolina agriculture while planting seeds with the children. “A lot of elementary school students know about farms and eat three meals a day, but they don’t associate the two things as being connected,” Naylor remarked. “It’s amazing to go into a classroom and make that connection for them — that the farms they see traveling down the road with their parents are the ones that provide the food on their dinner table or their lunch tray.” …
  • “Newly legal industrial hemp could face extra regulations in NC,” News & Observer: Industrial hemp became a legal crop in North Carolina last year, but its quick legalization is prompting lawmakers to add more regulations before the first seeds are planted. Advocates for the crop hope to start growing it early next year. Hemp hadn’t been legal in part because the plant is a relative of marijuana and looks similar. But it lacks the active ingredient that makes marijuana a recreational drug. Hemp is used in fabrics, paper and car parts. The legislature approved a legalization measure last year. The bill passed just days after it was introduced, attracting little notice in the busy final days of the session. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Jimmy Dixon, a Duplin County Republican, said he was “upset and perturbed” that the bill wasn’t reviewed by his committee first. On Thursday, Dixon’s committee approved a bill that adds further regulations for aspiring hemp growers. The bill would add four more people to the five-member Industrial Hemp Commission charged with developing a permitting process for hemp farms. Three of the additional members would be agriculture professionals appointed by the state’s agriculture commissioner, currently Steve Troxler. The fourth would be a university professor appointed by the governor. …
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