News Roundup: Aug. 11-17

By on August 17, 2018

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.

  • “Voting ends noon Monday,” Yadkin Ripple: Yadkin Valley was in 10th place before USA Today stopped posting rankings. Tenth place for Top Ten….
  • “Tobacco Markets open late,”  Greenville Daily Reflector: A baler door lifted and a golden cube of pressed tobacco dropped onto the floor on Monday at Bass Farms near Lucama. The 735-pound bale was one of 36 to be carried Tuesday to Philip Morris, a major buyer of tobacco, in Wilson. Tobacco markets opened later than usual this week because this year’s crop is about a month behind schedule. Universal Leaf is scheduled to open Wednesday, accepting its first loads of contract tobacco. According to Rick Smith of Independent Leaf Co., about 92 percent of the tobacco grown in Wilson will be bought through contracts with major buyers.
  • “The biggest-known cantaloupe just set a world record and was grown in NC,” Charlotte Observer: The world-champion cantaloupe grew slowly in Danny Vester’s garden, hidden from the sun, adding a pound of orange flesh a day until it reached a scale-busting 65.9 pounds — a new world record. At first glance, Vester’s super fruit resembled a half-deflated beach ball, perched on the scale at the N.C. Farmer’s Market like a grandfather toad, too lumpy and misshapen for anybody’s breakfast. But for Vester, a retiree and cancer survivor in Spring Hope, the prize cantaloupe represents months of pampering, hiding his baby under leafy branches and feeding it micronutrients. He beamed Tuesday when N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced the record-breaking weight for his cantaloupe, a pound heavier than the old 64.8-pound mark set in Alaska in 2004, according to the Guinness World Records. …
  • “Growing local farmers: New festival to support N.C. State’s Breeze Farm incubator,” Durham Herald Sun: Tracy Lafleur realized during her sophomore year in Massachusetts that the best thing about the small liberal arts college was its student farm. “I realized that’s what I want to be doing, and the people around me, those were the type of people I wanted to be like,” she said. Lafleur transferred to the University of Maine, where she studied sustainable agriculture and managed its community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. She then worked on other farms before starting Sugar Hill Produce at the PLANT @ Breeze Farm Enterprise Incubator in 2016. “I wanted to make sure that I was the fastest, best, most-efficient farm crew member before I started my own operation,” Lafleur said. “It doesn’t make sense to go, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to have a farm. Do you have any money? I don’t know. Well, are you any good at it? I don’t know.’ … I think a lot of people do it that way, but it just scared the bejeezus out of me.”
  • “The Sweetness of Research: Dr. Alyssa Koehler speaks about stevia,” Sampson Independent: In a field, Dr. Alyssa Koehler held a small stevia plant as a crowd gathered around at the Horticulture Crops Research Station. The leaves of the green plant are very sweet and includes several health benefits. But the one in her hand was not perfect and was damaged by brown spots known as septoria — a fungus. As a plant pathologist from the North Carolina State University, it’s something she working to prevent. Koehler was one of many presenters during the 2018 Stevia Field Day held Thursday at the research station in Clinton. During the tour, visitors viewed equipment, breeding plots, and weed control techniques. The event was part of a multi-state consortium working with stevia. “It’s on everyone’s radar,” Koehler said about the leaf spots that starts with small specs which could expand depending on the season and environment. “A lot of our work has been on trying to time fungicides and other control management strategies.” …
  • “China Accepts U.S. Soybean Shipment with 25 Percent Tariff,” Southern Farm Network: On Monday China accepted the 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans, as a vessel waiting to dock for five weeks reached port and began unloading. The move marks the first shipment of U.S. soybeans to be accepted with a 25 percent tariff stemming from the U.S.-China trade war.
    China’s state grain stockpiling company accepted the shipment, even as government officials warned over the weekend China would source products, such as soybeans, elsewhere. The company will pay the tariff on the 70,000 metric ton shipment, with the tax estimated at $6 million, according to Reuters. The Chinese company claims the ship was delayed by port congestion, though the port has not seen any major backlogs for more than a month. U.S. soybean exports to China in 2017 were worth $12.7 billion, but the trade war between the two nations has sparked concerns over how much U.S. soy China will purchase. Two other ships carrying U.S. soybean have been anchored along China’s coast for a few weeks now, and many expect China to start sourcing more soybeans from Brazil.
  • “Smithfield Foods removing hogs from farms involved in court losses,” WRAL: Pork giant Smithfield Foods is cycling its hogs off of the farms targeted in recent successful nuisance lawsuits against the company, further heightening concerns for farmers worried that the suits will run them out of the hog business. In at least one case, the company agreed to discuss continued payments after the hogs are removed, but whether an accommodation was reached is not publicly known. The federal judge overseeing these cases issued a gag order in them, limiting what people involved in the lawsuits are willing to say. For state lawmakers, farmers and others who’ve been sounding an alarm about the impact nuisance lawsuits could have, the company’s move is clear evidence of the mounting economic impact from jury verdicts that have already topped half a billion dollars from just three of 26 scheduled trials. For environmentalists and advocates for people living near the farms, it’s evidence of intransigence from a company that could afford technological upgrades to control the stench of pig waste but would rather spend money on attorneys and public relations. …
  • “What’s the Buzz: Agriculture in NC just keeps growing,” Fayetteville Observer: As agriculture commodity prices slide and trade battles continue between the U.S. and foreign countries, North Carolina agriculture continues doing what it does best: Grow. Agriculture, which is the state’s No. 1 industry, includes farming, processing, wholesaling and retailing of food, natural fiber and forestry products. Agriculture accounted for $84 billion of our state’s economy in 2017, which is an $8 billion increase from the previous year, according to N.C. State economist Michael Walden. It is important to note that the agriculture industry provides an estimated 633,000 jobs and accounts for 17 percent of all the jobs in North Carolina. The world population continues to rise, with an estimated 9.5 billion people by 2050, and producers of agricultural commodities will have to meet those demands. North Carolina is a major contributor as one of the top exporters in the U.S. in several commodities: sweet potatoes, tobacco, pork and many fresh fruits and vegetables, to name a few. Our farmers grow crops on a wide range of challenging soil types in unpredictable weather patterns every year. They brave droughts, heavy winds and rains, and shoulder tremendous financial risk. …
  • “Force of nature: This summer’s ever-changing weather has local farmers scrambling,” Greensboro News & Record: Local farmers like to joke that conditions are always seven to 10 days from a drought. So when the rain started three weeks ago, it saved corn, beans and other produce across the county. Then it wouldn’t stop. Because of that, strawberry crops experienced stunted growth.
    “Sometimes it can be too much of a blessing,” said Don York, who mainly grows corn and soybeans. July is traditionally an unpredictable weather month anyway. Some years, there is a trace of precipitation. In other years, farmers wear rain boots to milk cows. And conditions can differ from farm to farm. That’s because in the summer, especially, slow-moving showers tend to dump a lot of rain in one location. More than 32 inches of rain has fallen since January. While not record setting, it’s about six inches above normal, according to the National Weather Service. …
  • “Lisenberry Mountain Farm focuses on honey,” Shelby Star: The Shelby’s Foothills Farmers’ Market began in 2008 after the closing of the Shelby Farmers’ Market. Here, local vendors can sell their fresh products to the community. Among these vendors is Lisenberry Mountain Farm. Bill and Nancy McCullough have a farm in Rutherford County where they grow vegetables. According to Bill, the best thing to have for vegetables are bees. “We think the bees are important for the environment,” he said. The McCulloughs have been living here for a long time. In the past, they sold in stores but thought it would be fun to participate in the Farmers’ Market. Their farm has used no pesticides for 44 years. They enjoy managing the bees through the seasons, and they have to pay attention to what is going on and when to add beeswax and extract bee combs. The equipment they use has frames that they can put beeswax foundations in. From there, the bees build combs, find nectar and make honey from it. When the beekeepers see that the cells are filled and have beeswax caps over the top, they know it’s time to extract the honey. They sell the honey and keep some for themselves for baking and cooking.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email