News Roundup: Aug. 6-12

By on August 12, 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.

  • “North Carolina corn farmers have never seen a crop like this,” Southeast Farm Press: As the new year began, North Carolina State University Extension Corn Specialist Ron Heiniger boldly proclaimed 2016 as “the year of the corn” because this would be the year North Carolina would make a record corn crop. “Overall, statewide, this is going to be our best crop ever,” Heiniger says. “There are spots in the Coastal Plain where farmers have never seen anything like this: corn that is 16 feet tall with big ears.” In winter meetings this year, Heiniger predicted North Carolina corn farmers would make an average statewide record yield of 150 bushels per acre. “It’s still too early to tell, but I think we will still make that record yield of 150 bushels per acre,” the corn specialist said. North Carolina’s previous record corn crop was set in 2013 with an average statewide yield of 142 bushels per acre. …
  • “NC farmers market has reached nearly 4 million customers in the past few years,” WNCN: Many people across the country, including North Carolinians, are celebrating National Farmers Market Week, which kicked off Sunday. Monica Wood with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture said the state farmers market saw a peak of 3.8 million customers in the last few years. “It was just a buzz word,” Wood said. “Everybody’s looking for Farmer’s Market.” Wood says many of those same customers are still shopping at these markets. Durham resident, Zach Marston told CBS North Carolina, “I come here every Saturday and I love it!” The North Carolina Department of Agriculture says depending on each market, organizers can make their own rules. …
  • “People, Pigs and the Planet,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) With the launch of the revised Pork Quality Assurance Plus program this summer, food companies are seeing value in this certification program. Pork Checkoff vice president of channel marketing Jarrod Sutton says the entire food supply chain appreciates high industry standards for animal care: “Well, I think it’s an important backstop. As you know there’s a lot of questions from food companies regarding today’s modern farm production practices, and I think it covers a wide range of food, but specifically as it relates to the pig industry and pork production, this is the program to address concerns as it relates to animal welfare and food safety, and that is obviously very important areas of emphasis for food companies as they continue to explore corporate social responsibility strategies, practices, expectations, in their supply chain.” PQA Plus has been in existence for a long time, which is significant: “Our job now, at the National Pork Board in particular, is to ensure that our food chain partners, particularly food service and retail partners appreciate the longevity of the program, the voluntary process of pork producers coming together with academia, with industry experts, veterinarians, etc., and building this program to essentially address and hopefully exceed concerns expectations of food service partners. …
  • “ZMapp gains more federal funding to expand Ebola treatment options,” Winston-Salem Journal: The maker of an Ebola treatment drug has received additional federal funding that allows for expanded treatment options in four countries, including the United States. ZMapp, the drug treating the Ebola virus, is being developed with tobacco leaves by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. of San Diego. Kentucky BioProcessing LLC, of which Reynolds American Inc. bought certain assets and liabilities in 2014, is a contract manufacturer for the drug. …
  • “Youth-led farming, bee-keeping ministry inspires CBF field personnel,” Baptist News Global: Sometimes, being missional requires creativity in the development of new ministries. At other times, it means recognizing the innovation of others and simply offering a helping hand. A North Carolina couple is modeling the latter approach by getting behind a rural community’s creative effort to overcome the poverty and hunger its people face. Conetoe (pronounced ka-NEE-tuh) is a town of about 300 residents in eastern North Carolina and is so rural and isolated that it’s considered a severe food desert. The nearest grocery stores are 10 miles away, LaCount Anderson said. Anderson and his wife, Anna, are Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel who long served in another impoverished town 30 miles away. But the work and ministry they heard was happening in Conetoe has drawn them there to expand those efforts. “They’ve [the residents] already identified the problem and they are providing the solution,” he said. That solution is astonishing in its creativity, scope and success, the Andersons said. It began as a farming project led by Richard Joyner, pastor at Conetoe Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. A two-acre plot created more than a decade ago has blossomed into a major farming effort with five large sites led by the area’s youth. …
  • “Cooperative Extension’s Shared Use Kitchen Gives Farmers, Entrepreneurs New Opportunity,” Time Warner Cable News: (Video) A new opportunity for farmers and cooking entrepreneurs in Guilford County is now open. The NC Cooperative Extension’s Shared Use Kitchen is giving growers a different way to sell their products and produce. Nancy Seay’s jams and jellies have been a hit with her family and friends for years! “My daughter loves my strawberry jam!” Seay, who owns Nancy’s Carolina Fresh, said. “Our other favorite fruit is peaches, which is beautifully fresh and delicious right now.” She’s using the Guilford Cooperative Extension’s new shared used kitchen to make her peach and butterscotch peach jams. “I do hope that I might be able to add this to some other products I’ve had in local stores and get it out there in front of people,” Seay said. The kitchen, located off Burlington Road, provides farmers and community members a way to repurpose produce, along with make things like jams, breads, cakes and pies that they prepare for retail sale. …
  • “Extreme Heat Took Toll on NC Crops,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) In the latest crop progress report for North Carolina for the week ended August 7th, there were 5.8 days suitable for fieldwork, compared to 6.6 the previous week. Topsoil moisture is rated at 4% very short, 23% short, 64% adequate and 9% surplus. Gary Cross with Person County Extension reports that crop conditions are less stressed due to cooler temperatures and less humidity. Target spot has caused significant damage to tobacco, as well as an increase in black shank and other diseases. But, the heat of July took it’s toll on corn. Mac Malloy with Robeson County Extension Scattered showers improved soil moisture in parts of the county. Worm activity picked up in soybeans with some treatments being made this week. …
  • “Tailgate markets report: Is blemished fruit better?” Asheville Citizen-Times: The weather this year has not been kind to fruit. Late frosts in spring, hailstorms and weeks of temporary drought followed by daily thunderstorms have left fruit altered in some cases and in limited availability in others. Earlier this growing season, strawberries took a hit during the spring hailstorms. Whole fields of fledgling strawberries were pummeled by the storms. Though there were still many strawberries at market, there were fewer than there would have been otherwise. There have been few to none red raspberries and wineberries available at market this year, as well. Typically there aren’t many farmers that bring these berries to market, as they’re more challenging and time-consuming to harvest than blackberries, but in most years, there are pints to be found here and there. This year, few farmers brought any, and those who did brought a limited amount. According to Creasman Farms, the last frosts led to frozen blooms that have resulted in the current absence of white peaches and nectarines. It also caused some altered exteriors for the yellow peaches that they do have for sale. Because of the hail and frost, their apples, expected in late summer and early fall, will have more superficial markings, but, as a result of the dry weeks we had, they may be sweeter than in milder years. To learn more, visit Creasman Farms at River Arts District Farmers Market, Asheville City Market or the Transylvania Farmers Market. …
  • “Three tomatoes voted as favorites,” Winston-Salem Journal: Last Friday night, Michael Hastings, the Winston-Salem Journal’s food editor, and I hosted the annual Slice of Summer Tomato Tasting. There was a great turnout, with a long line stretching down Trade Street. Fortunately, the heavy rain and lightning held off until the very end — after most of the participants had devoured the local tomato bounty. There were about 450 people in attendance, all of whom sampled most of the 53 varieties of locally grown tomatoes. Participants cast their vote at the end of the tasting, choosing their favorite. Because the flavor burst of each tomato variety can vary, this year we had two categories: crowd-favorite cherry tomato and crowd-favorite beefsteak. The Sunsugar was voted the favorite cherry tomato, and The Rick and Black Pineapple tied for the favorite beefsteak variety. These winning tomatoes were contributed by Ron Simmons (Sunsugar), Ann and Bill Smith of Oldtown Farm (The Rick), Linda Hutchison of Farmhaven and Roger Hester (both contributing Black Pineapple). …
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