News Roundup: Sept. 5-12

by | Sep 12, 2014

News Roundup logoEach 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.

  • “From Equipment Manufacturing to Wine Making on the Same Farm,” Southern Farm Network: September is wine and grape month in North Carolina, and you can’t talk about either without talking to Ron Taylor, with LuMil Vineyards, and DiVine Foods in Elizabethtown, North Carolina. Taylor talks about how they got their start in the grape and wine business: “Well, what we were doing at Taylor Manufacturing making tobacco, cotton and peanut equipment, that kind of thing, and with the buyout of the federal tobacco program, and we were looking for other implements to make. So, we put in a few acres of grapes just to do research & development to make equipment. We made an automatic grape harvesters, sprayers, and pruners, we have sold this equipment throughout the muscadine belt, primarily and in other grape producing areas particularly, and that put us in the grape growing business.” …
  • “The great pumpkin: NC man’s 1,296-pound fruit sets a state record,” The News & Observer: By Aug. 22, Danny Vester’s prize pumpkin had grown to the size of a small boulder, so he loaded it onto a forklift and gently dropped it in the bed of his 4×4 pickup, where it fit with only a half-inch to spare. Vester then drove south to a pumpkin weigh-off in Alabama, his treasure secured in a nest of hay. Passing drivers snapped pictures, waved arms and honked horns, so distracted by the moon-sized fruit that they wouldn’t let him change lanes, forcing Vester to tote his giant gourd through the middle of Atlanta. “Something about a big pumpkin on the back of a pickup truck will make people happy,” said Vester, 60.  …
  • “Farm Fresh offering early cured sweet potatoes,” The Produce News: With most North Carolina farms growing diverse crops, it’s hard to pinpoint a solid start date for the harvest of North Carolina sweet potatoes, according to Steven Ceccarelli, the owner of Farm Fresh Produce Inc., based in Faison, NC. Ceccarelli said Sept. 5 that about 10-20 percent of the sweet potato harvest was complete. But many growers also harvest tobacco, and from a farm management and labor point of view, tobacco harvest would precede sweet potatoes. Farmers of peanuts or other crops would have still other harvest schedules. But for Ceccarelli, an early start is important, and he planned to be the season’s first exporter of cured sweet potatoes. “We will have cured potatoes this weekend,” which would be Sept. 6, he said. The curing process can take between two and six weeks, depending on variables such as ambient temperature and humidity. The two-week process is a “quick cure” he said. “It takes a month for a full cure, but six weeks if you have unfavorable conditions.” …
  • “Area breweries investing millions, adding staff,”Asheville Citizen-Times: Asheville’s craft brewery boom continues to see explosive growth, with local beer producers dropping millions on expansions and staff. The $175 million New Belgium brewery going up in West Asheville along the French Broad River stands out as the area’s biggest project, and it reflects the nation’s growing preference for craft beer, such as IPAs, pale ales, bitters and others styles. Year-to-date sales for craft beer are up 20 percent in 2014 from 2013 numbers, according to the Brewers Association trade group. Overall, craft beer was 7.8 percent of beer sold in 2013, the association said. …
  • “Chickens come home to roost for Tim Cathey,” Lincolnton Times-News: Tim Cathey is a disruptive innovator. He finds unexpected solutions to problems and creates new technology in the process. Some of that technology may soon impact farming practices in Lincoln County and beyond. Through his company, Novovita, Cathey has developed a line of bio-based agricultural products that can organically suppress weeds, reduce erosion and create fertilizer from industrial chicken waste. Two of the products are currently being tested in the county. Cathey’s business card says he is an environmental designer. Recalling the environmental movement of the late 1960s, Cathy speaks with an air of ownership regarding issues of the time. His design process is mindful of the natural world. “I try to design things in a way that is acceptable environmentally by choosing materials based on recyclability and performance,” he said. …
  • “Crank Arm Brewery Nabs Best of Show in State Fair Competition,” TWC News: The winners of the NC State Fair’s 2014 N.C. Brewers’ Cup competition have been announced, and Best of Show went to Rickshaw Rye IPA by Crank Arm Brewing in Raleigh. The competition was organized by the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild and presented by All About Beer Magazine. The third-year competition drew 228 professional entries and 182 home-brew entries. Entries were evaluated by 30 professional beer judges Sept. 6 and 7 at Mystery Brewing Co. in Hillsborough. The top winners will be displayed in the Education Building at the N.C. State Fair Oct. 16-26. …
  • “FDA’s Taylor says food-safety inspections to change in post-FSMA,” The Produce News: The Food & Drug Administration is retooling inspectors to be more specialized in food and teaching them to assess a company’s food-safety culture for the first time when deciding whether to return for another inspection, Mike Taylor, the FDA ‘s food-safety chief, said Sept. 10 at the United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Conference, here. This was just one of several messages he brought to the breakfast meeting of the conference as he mapped out the FDA’s plan for assuring compliance with the massive Food Safety Modernization Act. …
  •  “Efficiency key to success for Steve and Archie Griffin,” Southeast Farm Press: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Steve Griffin’s return to the family farm in Beaufort County North Carolina. Much has changed in farming since 1974, but one constant is the importance of efficiency. It’s a lesson Griffin has taught to son Archie, who returned to the farm three years ago after completing a degree in soil science and crop production at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. “Ever since I came back, Dad has stressed the more efficient you are with your farm, the more you get out of it. You can always better your farm by being more efficient,” Archie says. The Griffins farm six miles north of Washington in Beaufort County, where sandy soils have always been a challenge. A key to efficiency is incorporating new technology. The Griffins say it’s a must for controlling costs. …
  •  “NC Fish Fry: Farmer’s Market Hosts Seafood Day,” WUNC: North Carolina is known for its diverse agriculture offerings. And you can always count on the State Farmer’s Market to feature the best the state has to offer, from collard greens to sweet potatoes. But on Thursday, for the first time, the State Farmer’s Market hosted Seafood Day. Enthusiasts said it’s been a long time coming. It was the perfect day for a fish fry. It was hot outside and the fish was hot, right out of the skillet. Chef Tom Armstrong of Vinnie’s Steakhouse in Raleigh could hardly get a break. “We steamed about 600 clams and they’re all gone,” said Armstrong. “I’m actually surprised. Pleasantly, surprised.” …