Friday, April 8, 2016

Summer Research Assistant Position Open at Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC

There is a temporary summer support position open at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC. This position will provide support to the research station staff in conducting a wide variety of agricultural research projects. This is a manual labor position. Duties will include planting, harvesting, weeding, mowing, hoeing, data collection, and other tasks as assigned. This is an extended summer position that will start in May and run through at least August and maybe as long as October.
The person in this position will often assist with the projects of the NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program. This year those will include projects on tomatoes, peppers, and cucurbits in the Certified Organic Research Unit, a small Biodynamic study, and truffles. This is not an "organic position" so the person will also work with crops that are treated with conventional pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.
The work hours are 7:30am to 4:00 pm, Monday-Friday. Applicants must have a high school diploma (or the equivalent).  We are looking for individuals with knowledge of and experience with practical farm operations. One growing season of related farm or agricultural research support experience is preferred.The applicant must be willing and able to work outside for prolonged periods of time in all kinds of weather conditions, be able to carry out tasks with limited supervision, and be able to lift up to 75 pounds on a routine and continual basis.
The anticipated hourly pay rate is $10 per hour. The position will report to the research station superintendent. The only way to apply for this position is online through the NC State University hiring system. PLEASE do not call or email us with questions about this position; just apply! (Sorry, don't want to be mean, but we often get overwhelmed with inquiries on these temporary positions and we just don't have the time to respond during this busy time of year). To apply, go HERE. The position number is 11ASO606.

Monday, April 4, 2016

What We Learned About Growing Organic and Conventional Broccoli in Western North Carolina

This article was written by Margaret Bloomquist, Research Assistant in the NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program. She has been the coordinator of our two broccoli projects for the past three years.

Five years of conventional and organic broccoli research in Western North Carolina have culminated and we’d like to share some results and open discussion of where to go from here.The five year conventional broccoli project is discussed first followed by the four year organic broccoli project.
growing broccoli on white plastic
Eastern Broccoli Project.
Goals: To create a regional supply of broccoli, that would result in lower transportation costs to get the product to market. To develop Eastern grown broccoli as a new high-value specialty crop for Eastern farmers. To develop new breeding stocks and the expertise to help grow the Eastern broccoli industry.

The Project: The multi-state, multi-disciplinary research team of private and public breeders, production specialists, and market developers conducted an amazing five years of field and market research. The project evaluated and created 136 new hybrids specifically for our region with an emphasis on heat resistance and high quality. This project demonstrated that Western North Carolina is at an advantage to fill the Eastern U.S. gap in production during the summer months. The trials were conducted from Maine to South Carolina. We conducted our studies at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC. In the Phase I trials, a large number of varieties were set out on two planting dates and evaluated. Forty-six varieties advanced to the Phase II trials where they were grown on the research station and set out at five planting dates. Four varieties were chosen from those trials to advance to the on-farm trials were conducted in Henderson County. Regional varieties best suited to mountain management were identified, even one with different quality traits that would be suited for organic growers.

Varieties Released or Remarketed to Eastern growers because of this project:
Lieutenant (Seminis)
BC1691 (Seminis, Lieutenant follow-up)
BC1764 (Seminis, Lieutenant follow-up)
Burney (Bejo)

Durapak16 and Durapak 19 (Syngenta)

*More varieties are in the pipeline. Keep an eye out for ‘Greenpak’ from Syngenta and others from Seminis and Bejo.
Spacing and Cultural Practices: Early research in this project conducted at Cornell focused on plant population effects on yield and quality for optimal production in the conventional market. Tighter in-row spacing than usually used was found to generate optimal crown size and yield per acre. After growers observed what we were doing on the research station with this project, some Western North Carolina farmers began using plastic mulch (black in spring/fall and white-on-black in summer plantings) with drip-irrigation, double rows on the bed, with an in-row spacing of 8 inches and 12 inches between the rows. This has been shown to be the most productive and generally yielded 600-800 boxes per acre. 

Resources: The website for the Eastern Broccoli Project can be found here. Broccoli varieties for the Eastern U.S. as recommended from the Eastern Broccoli Project are linked here. And the 2016 Southeastern U.S. Vegetable Crop Handbook with additional variety recommendations for our region is linked here

This project was funded by a $3.2 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture under the Specialty Crops Research Initiative, with an additional $1.7 million in matching contributions from participating commercial partners.

Participatory Organic Broccoli Project
Organic farmers were very interested in the large Eastern Broccoli Project but were curious to know if the varieties identified and developed for conventional growers were the best for organic production, too. We set out to conduct a complementary organic broccoli trial in which the farmers played an active role in designing and evaluating.. Twenty crown cut varieties and ten unusual varieties were chosen by growers and tested in what we referred to as Mother Trials on the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC. They were evaluated for heat tolerance, yield, and insect and disease resistance. At the same time, we worked to create the best organic management practices for Western North Carolina growers. This included the use of farmscaping and white-on-black plastic. Growers were interested in yields, quality, types appropriate for different markets, long season availability, resistance or tolerance to harlequin bugs, and resistance to Alternaria.

Varieties: Our on-farm trials were referred to as Baby Trials. Working with the growers, we chose six of the best varieties from the Mother Trials and grew them out on organic farms at various elevations in the region.These are presented in order of best overall quality and yield:
Packman (unfortunately, this is difficult to find seed for now)
Bay Meadows
Green Magic
Umpqua (Open Pollinated)
This project was funded by three grants from the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

We thank our on-farm cooperators from 2011-2015 on both of these projects:
North River Farms, Mills River, NC
Fletcher Creek Farm, Fletcher, NC
Edmundson Produce, Henderson County, NC
Jason Edny, Ednyville, NC
McConnell Farms, Hendersonville, NC
Miller Farms, Marble, NC
Moyer Family Farm, Castlewood, VA
Hoopers Creek Botanicals, Fletcher, NC
Green River Preserve Farm, Zirconia, NC

A big thank you to Dr. Thomas Bjorkman for his leadership on the Eastern Broccoli Project and to all of our collaborators, stakeholders, and especially all of the WNC growers and industry representatives who make our work possible and meaningful.

Please contact your county extension agent or Research Assistant for more information on growing broccoli in the mountains.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

WNC Herb Club Welcomes Spring with Some New Events!

WNC Herb Club Welcomes Spring
These brave "lil bloodroots" popped out this week to welcome the spring.
The ramps, ferns, trillium, and spring greens are also up and about, dancing with the cool mornings and spring sunshine. 
As we weed and seed and plant and dream - thankful for all that we have - We wish you a beautiful season ahead and would love to here what you are up to. 
Please mark your calendars for upcoming dates with our WNC Herb Growers Club.

You also may consider joining our new Woodland Stewards Crew to dive deeper into forest farming and get to know these plants and their care through the seasons at the woodland botanicals Demo Forest in Mills River. 

WNC Herb Grower's Club 2016 Calendar of Events:

April 14th 12pm: Early spring botanicals walk at UNC-Asheville Botanical Garden.
May 3rd 10am: Late spring walk (and planting) at the Woodland Botanicals Demo Forest at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center. Plus sign-up for 2016 Woodland Demo Stewards crew.
June 7th or 8th: Managing field medicinal herbs, on farm event with focus on weeding and other management considerations.

THESE EVENTS ARE FREE!  but you must RSVP for these events (that's when you will get the details, such as where to meet!). Please email:
For More Info

Thank you and keep on growing,
Margaret Bloonquist

Monday, February 22, 2016

Only One Week Left to Pre-register for the South Atlantic Hops Conference!

The South Atlantic Hops Conference will be March 4 and 5th in Richmond, VA. The Friday event is sold out but there are still some tickets available for the Saturday program. To get the pre-event discount, you must register online by 11:59 pm on February 29th.

And here is the program: 

Friday, March 4 (Sold out)
10:00-12:00  Industry Roundtable Discussion-Invited speakers will be at the table for a moderated discussion, but all registered attendees are invited to listen in. Devon Kistler, Huguenot Hops, moderator
12:00-1:00    Registration
 1:00-5:00     Hop yard tour: Piedmont Hops, Huguenot Hops, and Shadow Lawn Farm
5:00-10:00    Richmond brewery tour. Attendees can purchase food for dinner at the breweries:
                     Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Ardent Craft Ales, and Strangeways Brewing.

Saturday, March 5
 7:00-8:00     Exhibitor set-up
 8:00-9:00     Registration
9:00-10:00    Growing Hops in Non-traditional Areas-James Altwies, Gorst Valley Hops
10:00-10:30   Break
10:30-11:10   Concurrent Sessions (Tracks A and B):
                  A: The Status of the Industry-Ann George, Executive Director, Washington Hop
                       Commission, Hop Growers of America, US Hop Industry Plant Protection
                       Committee, and Hop Growers of Washington
                  B: Small-scale Hop Yard Construction-David Goode, Piedmont Hops
11:20-12:00  Concurrent Sessions:
                  A: Harvesting Hops and Quality Issues-James Altweis, Gorst Valley Hops
                  B: Growing and Marketing Hops on a Diversified Farm, Dan Gridley, Farm Boy Farms
12:00-1:00   Lunch and Sponsor presentations
1:00-1:40     Concurrent Sessions
                  A: Hops and Beer Chemistry in the South Atlantic, Ken Hurley, Virginia Tech
                  B: Buying Clean Starter Plants-panel of speakers
                       Holly Scoggins, Virginia Tech, moderator
                       James Altwies, Gorst Valley Hops
                       VA Dept. of Agric. & Consumer Services Plant Inspection Division rep
                       Laura Siegel, Virginia Cooperative Extension
                       Kelly Gaskill, North Carolina State University
1:50-2:30    Concurrent Sessions
                 A: Managing Downy Mildew on Hops in the South, Lina Quesada-Ocampo, NCSU
                 B: What Brewers Want and Experiences with Local Hops-panel of brewers
                       Brian Nelson, Head Brewer Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.
                       Dave Warwick, Brewmaster Three Notch'd Brewing Co.
2:30-3:00   Break and Informal Brewer and Grower Meet and Greet
3:00-3:40   Concurrent Sessions:
                A: Processing Hops-James Altwies, Gorst Valley Hops
                B: New Opportunities, Best Practices Self-Certification Program,
                      and IPM Field Guides, Ann George, Hop Growers of America
3:50-4:30  Updates from University Research, Extension and OId Dominion Hops Cooperative
4:40-5:30  Questions and Answer Period with All Presenters, Raffle, and Closing

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter Vegetable Conference in Asheville, NC on Feb. 10 and 11


48th Annual Meeting of the N.C. Tomato Growers Association and
“Winter Vegetable Conference & Trade Show" – February 10th-11th, 2016

You are invited to attend the 48th Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Tomato Growers Association and "Winter Vegetable Conference" to be held Wednesday and Thursday, February 10th & 11th, 2016.  The conference will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Asheville-Biltmore, Asheville, NC.  Each year the conference program reflects growers’ needs covering many aspects of production, business management and marketing.  We hope that you take advantage of this opportunity to learn about current issues associated with vegetables and take time to visit with the representatives from agricultural companies and other businesses that support our industry. 

We are excited to announce that this year’s conference will be held back-to-back with the Southeastern Apple Growers meeting.  The meeting venue and convenient parking are located around the back of the hotel.  Please note:  There will be separate registrations for each association’s conference, so please be sure you register as outlined in this information packet if you plan to attend the “Winter Vegetable Conference”. 

The program committee has put together another excellent educational program, with associated pesticide credits, that covers the vegetables grown in this area.  Registration and trade show will open at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, February 10th with the program beginning at 12:30 p.m.  A social is planned Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday's activities begin with registration and trade show and educational programs opening at 8:30 a.m., and end with the 12:00 Noon lunch and awards program.  For the 21st year, our conference will include a silent auction with the proceeds going to the N.C. Tomato Growers Association’s scholarship fund.  Association members donate all the items.

Conference pre-registration is $30.00/per person prior to January 30, 2016, (registration form enclosed).  Registration will be $35.00/per person at the door. More info on the NC Tomato website.

We encourage everyone to stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Asheville-Biltmore, Asheville where the N.C. Tomato Growers Association has reserved a block of rooms.  The room rate is $75.00 per night plus applicable taxes and this room rates is valid through February 8, 2016.  Please make your reservations directly with the Double-Tree by Hilton, Asheville-Biltmore, Asheville, NC at 1-800-222-8733, or (828) 274-1800.  If you have any questions, please call Ellen Moss at (828) 685-3989.


Burghley A/B (SESSION)-
Meeting with Apple Growers

1:00-1:45 PM
Future of NC Agriculture Panel: Steve Troxler, NC Commissioner of Agriculture; Richard Linton, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Science, NCSU; Larry Wooten, President of the NC Farm Bureau - Moderated by Sylvia Blankenship

1:45-2:00 PM
Introduction and Remarks by Rich Bonanno, Director of Cooperative Extension, NCSU

2:00-2:45 PM
Critical and Emerging Labor Issues - TBA (Apple Grower), Joe Deal (Tomato Grower), and Richard Blaylock, Division Director, NC Dept of Labor - Moderator TBA

2:45-3:15 PM

3:15-4:00 PM
Food Safety Modernization Legislation on the Farm, Panel Discussion Lisa Nix (Apple Grower), Randall Patterson (Tomato Grower), Roland McReynolds, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and NCSU Fresh Produce Safety Task Force Members- Moderated by Debbie Hamrick

4:00-4:30 PM
What you need to know about GMO's - Keith Edmisten, NCSU Crop Science

4:30-5:00 PM
Business Meeting - Tomato Growers Association

5:00 PM
Social Hour

5:00-6:00 PM
Fumigation Recertification Workshop, Gwen Minton, NCDA&CS

Tomato Growers Concurrent Thursday Sessions
Burghley A (Session 1)
Burghley B (Session 2)

Controlled Environment light technologies and sustainability for tomato production- Ricardo Hernandez, NCSU Horticultural Science
How to Grow the Best Broccoli-Varieties, Cultural Practices, and Post-harvest Handling - Jeanine Davis, NCSU Horticultural Science

On-farm economic impacts of using grafted plants in tomato production -Xin Zhao
Associate Professor
Organic and Sustainable Vegetable Production
Horticultural Sciences Department
1235 Fifield Hall
University of Florida
Hazard Assessment on the farm (With emphasis on Listeria) - Anita MacMullen and Chris Harris, NCDA Food and Drug

High Tunnels for Production and Profit, What have we learned - Lynn Sprague and grower panel
Potential New Tomato Hybrids with Disease Resistance and Fruit Quality - Dilip Panthee, NCSU Horticultural Science*


Cover crops and management - Andrew Price, USDA ARS Cover Crops in AR
Integrated Pest Management of Tomato Diseases - Frank Louws, NCSU Plant Pathology*

Fumigants and their use - Chuck Johnson, Va Tech
Managing Foliar Tomato Diseases - Inga Meadows, NCSU Plant Pathology*

Nematode management - Dr. Ye, NCDA Nematologist*
Insect Management - Jim Walgenbach, NCSU Entomology*