News Roundup: Jan. 11-17

by | Jan 17, 2014

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. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  • “Cold may have damaged fruit crops,” Salisbury Post: Cold damage often does not show up until spring, as seen in this split in a grape vine. Submitted photoCold damage often does not show up until spring, as seen in this split in a grape vine. For some, the arctic blast we received this week does not mean much except wearing extra clothing when going outside. However, this kind of weather can wreak havoc on fruit crops. Rowan County strawberry growers are paying close attention to their plants and hoping they can survive through this cold spell. …
  • “It wasn’t a bad season for blueberries in the Carolinas,” Southeast Farm Press: The yield on Scott Barefoot’s blueberries was only average in 2013. But considering the season?a cold spring and an extremely wet summer?he was satisfied. The Four Oaks, N.C., farmer said the cold spring caused the loss of his first crop of blueberries, and then some of his rabbiteye varieties – which ripen at the end of the season – did not attain a desirable size due to lack of pollination. “But the yield came out to 8,000 to 9,000 pounds per acre,” he said. In a good year, he would hope for 11,000 to 12,000 pounds per acre. “But under the circumstances, I would say it was pretty good.” The quality was not what it might have been, in part because part of the crop had to be harvested in the rain. …
  • “Revolutionizing school lunches in rural North Carolina,” Chatham Journal: Given the low per-meal allowance for school lunches and breakfasts, how can schools afford to serve locally grown, sustainably produced food? If we’re concerned about the epidemic of childhood obesity, why do we offer cupcakes and other unhealthy options in school cafeterias? The Abundance Foundation’s upcoming Cafeteria Man Expert Panel Discussion on January 13 at Chatham Community Library aims to answer these questions. The panel features some heavy hitters in the North Carolina’s realm of healthy food access to discuss the documentary Cafeteria Man and how we can revolutionize the way we serve school lunches in our 17 public schools in Chatham County, and beyond. …
  • “Ag sector boasts big growth for N.C. in 2013,” AgProfessional.com: Agriculture and ag-related industries are a $742 billion industry in the United States and accounts for nearly 5 percent of the annual GDP. In North Carolina, agribusiness is the largest contributor to the state’s economy, estimated to be in excess of $70 billion. The military is a distant second, contributing roughly $23 billion to the NC economy. It is not common that reports on agriculture sector business contributions per state are released to the public, but the NCEast Alliance provided information on the huge impact that agriculture is having on the North Carolina economy. This should be of interest to those not familiar North Carolina, other than the agricultural headquarters for some of the nation’s crop protection companies located at Research Triangle Park near Raleigh, N.C. The NCEast Alliance is a regional economic development agency serving more than 1 million residents within several small metropolitan and micropolitan areas from the fringe of the Research Triangle to the Atlantic Coast. …
  • “Pintful: At Farm Boy farms, craft brewing starts with craft farming,” News & Observer: The day after a storm blew through Chatham County, knocking down trees and swamping low-lying areas, Dan Gridley is eager to check his crops at the farm. The dirt road to the fields outside Pittsboro is muddy and rutted from the rain. The truck dances as it rumbles to two plots near the back tree line. Lynn Mann drives. He owns 300-plus acres where Gridley’s Farm Boy Farms contracts to grow two-row barley and rye grain on 27 acres. It’s winter, and most fields lay fallow, awaiting a spring planting to bring them to life. But Gridley’s plots are already green. Stepping down from the truck, he finds the fields are wet but unharmed. And that’s good news for local craft-beer drinkers. …
  • “Food salvage group feeds the poor with farmers’ help,” Hendersonville Times: Working with local farmers, food pantries and churches, an ecumenical nonprofit is feeding the hungry with food from Henderson County that otherwise would go to waste. The Society of St. Andrew is a Virginia-based charitable organization that uses volunteers to “glean” or salvage fresh, nutritious produce from farms primarily in the Southeast and help distribute them to churches and agencies that serve the poor and hungry. The society’s Western North Carolina gleaning coordinator, Bill Walker, says Henderson County farmers are providing his volunteer gleaners with more food than any other county in his coverage area, which stretches from Murphy east to Allegheny County. Although last year’s excessive rainfall hampered collections, Walker said roughly 200,000 pounds of produce were gleaned and salvaged from the region’s farms in 2013 that otherwise would have been plowed under or landfilled. Other food was collected from vendors at the WNC Farmer’s Market and other tailgates. …
  • “Forest Service, Slick Rock community complete home-protection effort,” Carolina Public Press: Seventy homes in the Slick Rock community are better protected from wildfires after a North Carolina Forest Service program helped remove a large amount of forest fuels. The project began in July 2012, when residents met with personnel from the Forest Service about becoming a Firewise Community. The community then formed a six-person Firewise Committee to help facilitate the project. The Forest Service trained committee members to do Firewise home assessments and to complete contracts for the work to be done. Members completed home assessments and worked with property owners to get a consensus to have the work done. …
  • “NC’s wild boars destructive but tasty,” News & Observer: Thousands of wild swine lurk in bottom lands and swamps near rivers and creeks in almost every county in North Carolina. Some carry diseases harmful to humans and other animals, and they cause countless monetary damage to agriculture. Most farmers despise wild pigs and go armed to kill or they pay professional hunters to trap and shoot swine. Some folks, especially hunters, say they are a tasty delight and are more healthful to eat than domestic hogs. The North Carolina Wildlife Commission takes a liberal view on killing wild swine. There is no bag limit, no closed season and they may be hunted at night with lights on private land in all 100 counties. …