News Roundup: May 13-19

By on May 19, 2017

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.

  • “Can ag’s big data solve Carolina production problems on a bigger scale?” Southeast Farm Press: As North Carolina State University and its partners work to improve agricultural yields and production predictability through the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative , they’ve noted the importance of bringing together the best minds from academia, industry and government. A recent workshop at N.C. State emphasized the role that computer scientists, data analytics experts and IT professionals will play in the initiative’s success. North Carolina farmers have been fast adopters of precision agriculture, or “smart farming,” collecting data from field-based sensors, drones, tractors and harvesters to make better decisions about irrigation, fertilizer, and weed and pest control solutions, down to the square inch. Now, said Steve Lommel, director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service at N.C. State, it’s time to harness data from farms and agricultural scientists across the state to solve production problems on a bigger scale. “We have to better understand what the data are telling us to gain new insights that can be scaled to many crops and growing locales,” Lommel said. “Our ability to extract more knowledge will come as we integrate large, disparate data sets, speed analysis using artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, and build new predictive tools to expedite advances in plant breeding, the introduction of new seed traits and the improvement of agricultural yields and environmental protection.” …
    “Make the most of strawberry season after the berries are gone,” The News & Observer: With their heart shape, ruby hue and intense flavor, it’s no surprise that strawberries inspire passion. They are the symbol of Venus, goddess of love. Accordingly, ancient Romans prescribed them as a treatment for everything from melancholy and fainting to halitosis and gout. It’s high season for strawberries in North Carolina, so it’s the perfect time to prescribe a bowlful of ripe berries as a cure for whatever ails you. Warmed from the sun and stealthily snacked at any of the you-pick farms that dot the Triangle, or pre-picked at farmers markets and some grocery stores, local strawberries will be available for just a few more weeks, perhaps through mid-June. Since North Carolina ranks fourth nationally for production of strawberries, and there are about 140 growers the Piedmont region, it really pays to select fruit from local farms. Strawberries lose nutrients and shine quickly after being picked, so berries that need to be transported from out of state typically taste less robust. “Buying local strawberries results in better flavor, better quality and fresher products,” says Dexter Hill, a marketing specialist at the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Last year, North Carolina growers produced more than 14 million pounds of the juicy red orbs. Hill expects this year’s crop, which suffered minimal impact from a late March cold snap, to be equally bountiful. …
  • “Industrial hemp OK’d for North Carolina farmers — with a few conditions,” Southeast Farm Press: Industrial hemp seed can be obtained from within the United States and planted in North Carolina, allowing the state’s pilot program for producing industrial hemp to get underway. The North Carolina Hemp Commission received an opinion from the North Carolina attorney general’s office to allow them to license growers who want to obtain industrial hemp seeds from another state. This development allows North Carolina farmers to source domestic seed for planting an industrial hemp crop in the Tar Heel State. Sandy Stewart, vice chairman of the commission and director of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Research Stations Division, says with this approval “we should now have a source of seed which would allow farmers to begin planting industrial hemp in North Carolina sometime in May.” …
  • “Michael Hastings: New book offers guide to N.C. craft distilleries,” Winston-Salem Journal: “Still & Barrel: Craft Spirits in the Old North State” ($19.95), by John Francis Trump, has just been published by John F. Blair, based in Winston-Salem. Trump will have a launch party and book signing for the book at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Broad Branch Distillery downtown.
    Trump, 53 and no relation to President Donald Trump, is the managing editor of the Carolina Journal, which covers state government. …
  • “A SNAPSHOT OF CURRENT FARM ECONOMY,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Farm prices are most noticed, yet there are other indicators to consider when it comes to the current economic health of farmers and ranchers. Rod Bain reports with USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson.
  • Saving A Research Station,” CALS Magazine: Dread knotted Andy Meier’s stomach as he sat in his pickup truck on a hill overlooking Cherry Research Farm. Hurricane Matthew had clobbered much of Eastern North Carolina the day before, and he was certain his research station would flood. So he waited. And watched. Little did he know how high the water would rise. Or how massive the wave of support from throughout the state would be. “We had already done the planning, the equipment was up and all the tactical work was done,” said Meier, Cherry Research Farm manager. “One of the lessons we learned from Hurricane Floyd was where to put the animals. … They were essentially on islands.” He also had set up a mobile command center, thanks to John Garner from Castle Hayne Research Station. Garner navigated around countless impassable roads on Sunday afternoon to deliver a fully-loaded bus. The 45-minute drive took several hours. Meier camped at the farm Sunday night. When he woke the next morning, it was almost entirely underwater. Of 2,000 acres, only 45 did not flood. …
  • “Trump reassures farmers immigration crackdown not aimed at their workers,” North State Journal: N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler among 14 who met with president last month: …”He has a much better understanding about this than some of the rhetoric we have seen,” said meeting attendee Steve Troxler, North Carolina’s agriculture commissioner and a farmer himself. …
  • “Agritourism tour offered in Eastern NC,” Kinston Free Press: It’s time to get a live look at life on the farm. The N.C. Agritourism Networking Association will host a bus tour of three agritourism farms on May 23 from 7:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. These types of tours are designed to show farmers in Eastern North Carolina how they can incorporate agritourism into their current business model, Paul Jones, Media Marketing Specialist for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said. “These tours are a chance for anyone to observe three different farms that feature agritourism and how they operate,” Jones said. …
Print Friendly