News Roundup: Aug. 5-11

By on August 11, 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.

  • “Will dicamba technology remain available in Southeast?” Southeast Farm Press: Despite all the issues of dicamba drift that have plagued the Mid-South this year, Alan York hopes the new technology will continue to be available because farmers need every possible tool to battle Palmer Amaranth and other troublesome weeds. Speaking at the Blacklands Farm Managers tour at Green Valley Farms in Columbia, N.C. Aug. 2, York, weed specialist and William Neals Reynolds professor emeritus of crop science at North Carolina State University, said registrations for the dicamba systems of Engenia and Xtendimax are time limited. Registration with the Environmental Protection Agency expires in November 2018. “At that point, EPA can extend it or they can let it die. Obviously, there’s been a change in politics in Washington, and that’s got to be figured into what’s going happen. On the other hand, we can’t ignore 1,300 complains coming out of the Mid-South area,” York said at the Blacklands field day. York said he believes dicamba will still be available next season. He said he doubts EPA will pull the registration this winter, but the question still remains if EPA will renew the registration. “EPA can either extend it or not. Their words when they gave us those labels were if off-target deposition is at unacceptable frequencies, they’re probably going to pull it,” York said, noting that EPA did not define “unacceptable frequencies.” …
  • “Over 200 million pounds of tobacco expected to come out of Wilson Co. this year,” Spectrum News: More than 200 million pounds of tobacco are expected to come out of Wilson County this year. Tobacco is one of the top five cash crops in North Carolina’s $84 billion-dollar agriculture industry. Spectrum News reporter Amy Elliott has more. …
  • “Food processing center planned for N.C. Research Campus,” Salisbury Post: If predictions hold true, a planned addition to the N.C. Research Campus could help sharply improve the state’s food manufacturing industry. Known as the Food Science Processing and Innovation Center, the addition would use up to 15,000 square feet at the N.C. Research Campus. Inside the food processing center would be a lab that complies with good manufacturing processes. The processing center would allow companies to develop, design and test new food products, said N.C. State University food science and nutrition professor Mario Ferruzzi. “This is actually going to be a really great opportunity, and it’s really going to build the future of food manufacturing,” Ferruzzi said. In June, the food processing center secured a $4.4 million, one-time allocation from the N.C. General Assembly and a $700,000 recurring allocation. Now, state and local officials are hammering out details of the food processing center. Ferruzzi said the processing center is scheduled to open near the end of 2018. The N.C. Department of Agriculture said it sees the center as a “major resource” to support food manufacturers. A 2014 study from N.C. State and the Department of Agriculture described the food processing center as an economic development catalyst. That study and people currently working on the project place a particular focus on how the food processing center might benefit rural communities. The study specifically looked at the possibilities for the food manufacturing industry in the context of the decline of North Carolina’s textile, furniture and tobacco industries. If properly implemented, a food manufacturing initiative would play a part in adding 38,000 jobs and $10.3 billion in revenue to the state’s economy by 2020, the 2014 study stated. “The center will play a role in making that prediction come true,” the N.C. Department of Agriculture said in an emailed statement. “The center can help N.C. Food businesses develop and grow, and help with the recruitment of food businesses from elsewhere.” …
  • “Farming advocate helps preserve heritage by helping growers in Polk County,” WLOS: Our Person of the Week helps give small farmers a fighting a chance while preserving a part of Western North Carolina’s past. Patrick McLendon is executive director of a non-profit called GRO, or Growing Rural Opportunities. He says what you get at the Tryon Farmer’s Market isn’t just a business transaction. It’s an experience. “No one goes to the normal supermarket and is just ecstatic,” he points out. “And because they’re looking at you right in the eye, they’re not gonna sell you something subpar.” “Boy do they look good!” Cass Eager said recently after sampling the peaches from Rollins Farm. How sweet it is when the fruit of someone’s labor tastes that good. “Mmm. This is perfect!” Cass gushed. “Sweet, melt in your mouth. It’s not pithy. It’s not stringy, it’s just fabulous.” “It makes me feel good,” said farmer Gerald Rollins, who says McLendon is a vital part of the success of local agriculture. “I think he’s doing a very good job. Patrick is somebody you can lean on for advice.” GRO runs the farmer’s markets in Tryon and Columbus. The group also supports one in Saluda. …
  • “Apple season nears,” Hendersonville Times-News: Apples are just beginning to ripen across Henderson County’s orchards, but roadside stands like Grandad’s Apples n’ Such on Chimney Rock Road are heading into the season full-throttle, capitalizing on the county’s growing agritourism industry. Grandad’s pressed its first batch of cider Wednesday, which will join apple cider donuts and other fan favorites being offered since officially opening to the public July 28. It was the largest opening day in Grandad’s in 23 years, according to owner Leslie Lancaster. Daniel Snyder, who was feeding apples into a machine and squeezing juice from pulp for that first batch, pointed to the new equipment Grandad’s is using this year. He said the average production is about 250 to 300 gallons a day, up to as much as 400 on a busy day. Two varieties of apples are already being harvested, Ginger Gold and Zestar. Grandad’s opened this year on time, not hindered by freeze problems that kept them from opening until the second week of August last year. Visitors have been flocking to Grandad’s, which is already having a tremendous year, Lancaster said. The orchard currently also offers two varieties of peaches, Asian pears, green beans and cabbage. It hasn’t necessarily been a quicker start to the season, but it’s definitely been a busier start, she added. Grandad’s was able to catch some of the county’s summer visitors, including parents coming to pick kids up from summer camps. “Locally grown and roadside markets are booming right now,” Lancaster said, a great thing for all farmers in the county. …
  • “In Focus: North Carolina agriculture,” Spectrum News: (Video): Commissioner Steve Troxler joins In Focus to discuss the Agriculture economy and its impact on the state.
  • “For the Love of Heirlooms: Tobaccoville is Crazy about Tomatoes,” Winston-Salem Journal: The apex of the summer harvest is upon us, as droves of vegetables are ripening in our gardens. My bumper crops have been okra and eggplant, but I’m finally starting to get a few nice tomatoes, as well. Tomatoes tend to be the star of the summer garden, and they are always my most challenging, but rewarding crop. I only have nine tomato plants this year, as I downsized my garden. But I recently ventured to a nearby farm to absorb myself in the bounty of their tomato harvest. Farmhaven — one of many farms contributing to the Journal’s Slice of Summer Tomato Tasting tonight — is a small farm in Tobaccoville that focuses on sustainable gardening. Owners Al and Linda Hutchison decided a few years ago to plunge into farming, and they found a wonderful 25-acre farm on the outskirts of Winston-Salem. …
  • “Stephen Briggs to spearhead N.C. State Plant Sciences Initiative,” Southeast Farm Press: The North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative isn’t all roots and stems. It’s genetics. It’s robotics. It’s big data. And with this week’s announcement of a newly hired launch director, it’s about to get rolling — in a big way. Entomologist, agricultural biotechnology business professional and commodity leader Stephen Briggs is now signed on to make this one-of-a-kind plant sciences research enterprise, housed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University, a reality. “I believe in our stakeholders’ vision that this can be the Silicon Valley of agriculture for the world,” Briggs said. “We can make a mark on agriculture for generations to come.” Briggs steps in at a critical time for the interdisciplinary, multi-partner initiative. In less than three years, the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative (NC PSI) has transitioned from a “big idea” to a highly anticipated center for plant sciences innovation. With the broad support of North Carolina’s agricultural community, the initiative will break ground on its state-of-the-art facility in 2019, with doors opening in fall 2021. “Today we take a giant step forward with leadership in the NC PSI,” said Richard Linton, dean of N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “I have great confidence that Steve’s experience will help guide us as we strategically move forward, both programmatically and in building our new world-class facility.” …
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