Thursday, December 6, 2012

Broccoli Varieties for Western NC

We have just completed year two of the East Coast Broccoli Project with testing of 39 entries, breeding lines and a few commercial varieties, taking place at five locations from Maine to South Carolina. A common question I am getting from growers is "based on your tests, which broccoli varieties do you recommend?"  The study we did this year, and will do for the next three years, compares public and private breeding lines with a few commercially available industry standards that we identified last year. So the only recommendations I can make are based on the large trial of commercial varieties that we conducted in Waynesville in 2011.  The research we are conducting will lead to new varieties bred specifically for our region. 

So, based on the commercial varieties that we grew in 2011, and we didn't grow every variety available, these are the ones we recommend for this region.  Again, keep in mind that this is based on a one year trial:
  • Bay Meadows
  • Diplomat
  • Emerald Crown
  • Green Magic
  • Lieutenant
  • Sarasota
  • Steel
  • Tradition

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wild-simulated Ginseng Conference on Dec. 7 and 8, 2012

Are you interested in growing wild-simulated ginseng? Do you think production of more wild-simulated ginseng will help conserve wild populations? Do you know the federal and state laws concerning wild-harvesting and growing ginseng? Are you interested in exporting ginseng? Do you know what ginseng is used for?  If these questions are of interest to you, you should plan on attending the International Ginseng Expo/Conference on December 7 and 8 in Mills River, NC (near Asheville). Two of the leading experts on wild-simulated ginseng growing, Scott Persons and Bob Beyfuss, will be featured speakers. There are well-known herbalists, botanists, ecologists, scientists, buyers, growers, and export experts on the program.  This is a small venue conference, so there will be ample opportunities to visit with the speakers and get to know your fellow attendees. For more information and to register visit the NC Natural Products Association website.

PS, the ginseng roots shown above are from some of our research plots. These were growing in the woods, planted in 2006, and harvested in 2012.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Successful Post-Season Hops Grower Meeting

We had a fun and informative post-season hops grower meeting on November 2 at my building in Mills River. We had 33 people in attendance, either in person or on a conference call. That conference call worked fine for some people; not so good for others. So we will fix that for next year. I wrote up my notes from that meeting and sent them to my email list for folks interested in hops growing in the Southeast.  If you want to be on that list, just drop me an email at I also posted the notes on the Southern Appalachian Hops Guild blog. I don't want to post the same information on two blogs, so I'm just going to provide you with a link here: Notes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 NC Hops Grower Meeting-Nov. 2, 2012

Kelly tying on the coir twine in spring 2012

Over 30 people responded to our Doodle poll for a hops grower meeting and we have selected the date that most people are available.

 The Hops Grower Meeting will be Friday, November 2 at 1:00 PM.  We will meet at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River.  Here are directions: 

If you are unable to attend this meeting in person, you can call in.  I have set up a conference call with  That means the long-distance charges will be yours.  Dial 1-218-936-4141 and enter participant access code: 9627077.  You will be able to enter and exit as you please during the meeting.

If you can’t come in person or call in but would like to participate, please try to send someone else from your operation. If that doesn’t work either and you want to have input, please send me your comments and suggestions.

The purpose of this meeting is to share our 2012 experiences (good and bad), plan how we can work together in the coming year, get input on the varieties to be included in our next two year research project, and outline our needs for future research and outreach.  The goal is to help grow a healthy North Carolina hops industry!  If you are not yet a grower but interested in becoming one, you might also find this interesting.  This will be an informal, facilitated sharing meeting. There will not be any formal presentations like at a conference. I will have a laptop and projector set up, so if you want to show any pictures from your hop yard, please bring them on a flashdrive.  The meeting will run as long as the momentum is there.  I expect that to be around 4:00 or 4:30.

FYI, I did just receive an entire bale of coir twine, 2600 strings, 21 feet, 100# weight.  That’s enough to last me about 13 years at the rate I use it, so we might want to have a discussion about how to make the best use of it.

Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. This meeting is for you!

Also, please help spread the word about this meeting. I don’t have the email addresses for everyone who answered the Doodle poll!

(Once again I apologize for any multiple notices because I will send this out via several lists and platforms)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chinese Medicinal Herb Hands-On Workshop

What: Growing, Harvesting, and Marketing Chinese Medicinal Herbs in WNC. A Hands-On Demonstration Day
Who: Appalachian Botanical Alliance, Golden Needle Acupuncture Supply, and NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program (Dept. of Horticultural Science, NC State University)
When: Friday October 19th, 2012. 10 AM to 3 PM
Where: Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station, 74 Research Drive, Mills River, 28759
With support from the WNC AgOptions Grant Program and The GoldenLEAF Foundation, the Appalachian Botanical Alliance (ABA), a newly formed medicinal herb growers’ cooperative, will be co-hosting a workshop on Chinese Medicinal Herbs at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station, in conjunction with Golden Needle Acupuncture, Herbal, & Medical Supply and Dr. Jeanine Davis’ Alternative Crops and Organics Program on Friday October 19, 2012 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. This is a chance to learn about growing and harvesting Chinese Medicinal Herbs in Western North Carolina and to gain first-hand experience in harvesting the roots of selective plants. This is also an opportunity to learn more about the support network available to current and potential medicinal herb farmers in WNC, markets for Chinese Medicinal Herbs, and more about the Appalachian Botanical Alliance in general. All are welcome to attend. Please wear clothes suitable for digging roots. Please bring a brown bag lunch. Drinks will be provided.

To RSVP and for additional information, please contact Alison Dressler at 828-684-3562 x 150 or .  The workshop will take place if there is light and intermittent rain. If it is raining hard, it will be rescheduled. If we need to reschedule, we will post that announcement on the blog: .


Let's Have a Hops Grower Meeting!

Within the next month we would like to have a hops grower meeting so we can all share our 2012 experiences (good and bad), plan how we can work together in the coming year, get input on the varieties to be included in our next two year research project, and outline our needs for future research and outreach.  The goal is to help grow a healthy North Carolina hops industry!  If you are not yet a grower but interested in becoming one, you might also find this interesting.

I have provided a link to a Doodle poll so we can select the date that most of us can make a meeting in Mills River (my building, right next to the Asheville airport and the Sierra Nevada brewery under construction!).  We can probably link some folks in by conference call, too.  So if you can’t make it in person, write in the comments section (on the Doodle poll) that you would like to call in (I’ll see what I can arrange-you will incur the long-distance phone charges).  If neither of those work for you, you can send me your comments in an email ( about the past season and what you would like to see done in the future. We will share those during the meeting and then send a transcript of the meeting to everyone on this list who wants it.

Also, I will be giving a presentation on organic hops production at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Greenville, SC on Sunday, October 28. I would love to have some of you in the audience!  Here is info about registration:

Here is the link to the Doodle poll to indicate what dates you are available, or not, for the hops grower meeting:

Seeking Some Feedback About Our NC Hops Program, Please!

We are nearing the end of one of our hops research grants and we would like to get some feedback about whether we are making a meaningful contribution to the knowledge base about growing hops in the Southeast.  We have a hops website ( ), post about hops on our blog  ( ), post some of our Powerpoints (, and give presentations at numerous conferences and workshops in the Southeast. If you are growing hops or interested in growing hops, we’d like to know if the information we are providing is helpful to you.  We will also be producing a hops production leaflet this winter.

We know you are busy, so if you could just answer these three questions with “yes” or “no”, we would very much appreciate it.  If you have just discovered us, please review the information we've provided before answering. 

Please respond in the comment section below, or if you would like your name added to our hops email list, please send your responses in an email to

1.      Do you know more about growing hops now then you did two years ago?

2.      Are you more knowledgeable about hop varieties now then you were two years ago?

3.      Is there more information available to you about growing hops then there was two years ago?

Thank you, Jeanine Davis and Kelly Gaskill

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Organic Broccoli Workshop!

 We are hosting a workshop on organic broccoli production on Wednesday September 19, 2012 from 11 am – 3 pm in Waynesville, NC. Come learn about organic broccoli production: insect management, post-harvest techniques, and marketing. Richard Boylan, Watauga County Extension Agent, Emily Bernstein, Research Specialist and Jeanine Davis, Associate Professor will all be presenting.  View 28 broccoli varieties and help rate which one is best, see which ones are most insect resistant, heat tolerant, and most delicious. If you RSVP to Emily (see below) we can ensure that there will be a lunch for you. If you don’t you are still welcome to attend, we just can’t guarantee a lunch.

Location: Mountain Research Station, 265 Test Farm Road, Waynesville, NC 28786-4016

For directions go to:

This workshop is free and open to the public.  For more information and to reserve a lunch contact Emily Bernstein by Sept. 13 at 828-684-3562 or and indicate any dietary needs or preferences.

This project is led by Jeanine Davis in the Department of Horticultural Science of North Carolina State University and funded by a grant from the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Are you an organic hops grower? Have I got a deal for you!

2012 Harvest at the Research Hop Yard in Mills River

I will be giving a presentation on organic hops production at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Greenville, SC on Sunday, October 28th. Last year, Scott King and I covered the basics of organic hops production. This year I will focus on what is working for growers and what the big challenges are. I am hoping a number of organic hop growers are planning to be at the conference already and will attend and share their experiences during this session. You are welcome to send me photos ahead of time that I can incorporate into a Powerpoint presentation.

I ALSO HAVE AN OFFER TO MAKE; IF THERE IS AN EXPERIENCED ORGANIC HOPS GROWER THAT WOULD LIKE TO BE A CO-PRESENTER WITH ME, I CAN OFFER A FREE CONFERENCE REGISTRATION IN RETURN FOR HELPING ME DEVELOP AND GIVE THIS PRESENTATION. You would have to cover your own lodging (not particularly cheap in Greenville) and travel. Check out conference details on the website. I can only offer this to one person, so tell me about your interest in doing this and about your organic hops growing experience!

Here is the link to the Conference Information (PS, this is one of my most favorite conferences to attend every year!). Please email me at if you are interested.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Position Available: Natural Products Brand Administrator-in Asheville, NC

Natural Products Brand Administrator Job Description

The NC Natural Products Association seeks to fill a one year temporary position of Brand Administrator to report to and assist the Board in a wide range of administrative, communications, and brand development project areas centered on successfully introducing and growing the new Blue Ridge Naturally brand in the natural products industry. The Brand Administrator will need to be very self-motivated, organized, and resourceful in executing various routine and special assignments, and in establishing solutions-oriented and sustainable reporting, decision making, and communications systems that can adapt to rapid organizational growth, as this is a start-up organization.
Compensation: $40,000 to $48,0000 per year as a contract position, commensurate with job responsibilities and relevant qualifications.
This is a one year position with potential to continue based on funding and the success achieved in meeting goals during the first year.
More details:
This position will report to and assist the NCNPA Board in a wide range of administrative, communications, and brand development project areas centered on successfully introducing and growing the new Blue Ridge Naturally (BRN) brand in the natural products industry. The chief purpose of the position is to successfully build and maintain the institutional capacity of NCNPA to administer the BRN brand as a self-sustaining stand-alone enterprise serving natural products businesses in the 23 counties of Western North Carolina. As NCNPA is still a start-up organization, the Brand Administrator will need to be very self-motivated, organized, and resourceful in executing various routine and special assignments, and in establishing solutions-oriented and sustainable reporting, decision-making, and communications systems that can adapt to rapid organizational growth.
 Responsibilities and project assignments will include:
  • Serving as the primary contact and client interface for the BRN brand: responding timely to client inquiries; maintaining phone, e-mail, and social media client communications and outreach; educating regional stakeholders on the brand’s significance; and speaking at events to potential BRN clients.
  • Conducting client site audits and facilitating mentoring and training events with NCNPA-approved affiliates, specifically NCSU Herbs of Commerce and/or Cooperative Extension, the BioNetwork’s Natural Products Laboratory, SBTDC, Blue Ridge Food Ventures/Advantage West, Bent Creek Institute, and other WNC regional affiliates.
  • Maintaining the BRN brand’s on-line client interface elements through the BRN web site, the BRN client web sales portal, and related client database management tools.
  • Managing NCNPA’s BRN-related accounting and financial record-keeping on weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual bases using QuickBooks Pro (or similar accounting software) and following generally accepted accounting practices, while preparing monthly, quarterly, and annual internal financial reports for the NCNPA Board.
  • Managing and establishing an accounts payable and accounts receivable system for NCNPA’s BRN-related activities, anticipating the start-up of expense and revenue activities in October 2012.
  • Authoring and revising BRN eligibility, admissions, and audit related client forms, procedure documents, and reports.
  • Participating actively all NCNPA Board and NPIAC Executive Steering Committee meetings and conference calls, and recording, preparing, and circulating key BRN-related notes and assignments from each meeting.
  • Managing, updating, and improving the content, accuracy, and timely functionality of the BRN web site and social media interfaces.
  • Preparing legal business agreements, including NDAs, MOUs, and General Terms and Conditions Agreements for BRN clients according to approved template documents.
  • Traveling to and attending scientific meetings, symposia, client on-site training events, and trade shows, as needed, to build BRN brand awareness and client uptake.
  • Facilitating and participating in year-end financial audits, as needed.
  • Other assignments, as required and authorized by the NCNPA Board of Directors.
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:
A working knowledge of 501(c)(3) non-profit organizational management , particularly in public-private partnerships is highly desirable. Positive, outgoing, articulate, and team-oriented collaborative communication and interpersonal skills are needed in order to interface successfully with a wide range of scientific, agricultural, and executive counterparts and to provide effective client relationships. A prior working understanding of natural products as a sector and branding of products is highly desirable. Ability to prepare, audit, and interpret organizational scientific, manufacturing, and financial reports is necessary and the ability to make audit reporting recommendations based on those reports is highly desirable. A proven working knowledge of fundamental accounting principles and bookkeeping techniques is essential, along with grant-writing and on-line website management. Minimum 5 years’ working experience in the natural products economy.
1. Required Minimum Training: A Bachelor’s degree in related fields; or an equivalent combination of certified education or experience. Demonstrated proficiency in QuickBooks Pro (or higher accounting), Microsoft Office Suite applications, web design languages, and database management is essential.
2. Additional Training/Experience: Prefer certificate in sustainable agriculture, organic or kosher manufacturing, and/or quality management. Demonstrated success in life sciences-related local, state, or federal grant-writing preferred. Specific experience with funds or grant management accounting is highly preferred. Supervisory and administrative operations experience is also preferred.
3.Life Experience: Prefer a demonstrated personal and professional involvement in natural wellness and healthy lifestyles. Prefer knowledge and literacy in botanical and/or integrative wellness therapies.
If interested, please send cover letter, resume, references, and two support letters by e-mail attachment to the attention of Annice Brown:
Please do not call for more information.
Position posting will close on August 31, 2012.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chinese Medicinal Herbs Update and Survey

Chinese peony in April

There is so much going on with Chinese medicinal herbs right now, I don't know where to start!  So here are some updates in no particular order:
  • Our little Chinese medicinal demonstration gardens at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station are teaching us so much about what likes to grow here in the southern mountains of western NC and what is "not so happy".  I will post a whole string of photographs soon.
  • Our farmer and herbalist cooperators continue to grow the same herbs as we are growing at the research station.  Last year some of them sold Chrysanthemum, Ju hua, to Golden Needle.  I then received a phone call from one of the practitioners who purchased some of the locally grown Ju hua and he was thrilled with the freshness and high quality of the product.
 Chrysanthemum, Ju hua that we grew last summer
Amy processing Ju hua in 2010.
  • I will giving a workshop on growing Chinese Medicinal Herbs at the NC Herb Association's annual summer conference known as Wild Herb Weekend. There we will view a Powerpoint presentation on how to grow the herbs, discuss how to prevent any possible invasiveness problems with plants we are not very familiar with, study vouchers from our gardens prepared by Joe-Ann McCoy at the Bent Creek Germplasm Repository, and study some live plant material. 
  • Jonathan Poston visited our gardens today and did a wonderful blog post on it. Thanks, Jonathan!  About a year ago he taught a class at Galen University that did a survey on demand for Chinese medicinal herbs.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Free Webcast on Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Management in Tomato

Photo from USDA

Phil Bogdan of the Plant Management Network sent me this notice that I am passing on to you.  The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug can cause a great deal of damage to your tomatoes and we definitely have them in western North Carolina!

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Management Addressed in New Tomato Webcast

Few crop pests have received as much attention as the brown marmorated stink bug…and for good reason.  Aside from heavily damaging various crops in the mid-Atlantic U.S., this economically important pest has been also been spreading westward across the U.S.

The latest Focus on Tomato presentation, authored by Dr. Tom Kuhar, Associate Professor of Entomology at Virginia Tech, helps consultants, growers, applied researchers, and other practitioners better understand and manage the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), particularly in tomato crops.

The presentation includes…
- A short biological and ecological background of the BMSB

- Illustrations of the BMSB and the damage they cause

- Population data for tomato crops

- Insecticide efficacy data for managing the BMSB

- Best BMSB management practices

This presentation is open access through October 31, 2012 and can be viewed at

Users can view other recent webcasts in the Focus on Potato resource at

Focus on Tomato is a publication of the Plant Management Network (PMN), a nonprofit online publisher whose mission is to enhance the health, management, and production of agricultural and horticultural crops. It achieves this mission through applied, science-based resources. PMN is jointly managed by the American Society of Agronomy, American Phytopathological Society, and Crop Science Society of America.

To take advantage of PMN's full line of resources, please sign up for its free online newsletter at:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Late Blight Confirmed in Western North Carolina

I just received a phone call from our plant pathologist, Dr. Kelly Ivors. Late blight has been confirmed in a commercial tomato field in western North Carolina. Now is the time to start protecting your tomatoes. If you are a conventional grower, you can access the tomato spray guides that Kelly has prepared for recommendations.

If you are an organic grower, the product that is most effective is copper. If you are certified organic, please check with your certifier to make sure that you can use copper and how frequently. Kelly recommends that if possible, your first spray should be copper.  You can then rotate with other products such as Regalia, Serenade, Sporatec, and Oxidate.  eOrganic has an excellent article on Organic Management of Late Blight.  There is also a webinar for Late Blight Management on Organic Farms and one for Late Blight Control in Your Organic Garden.

More information from Dr. Kelly Ivors.  She is sending this out to growers and it will be posted as a Pest News Alert:

Late blight confirmed on tomatoes in WNC

Kelly Ivors, Extension Plant Pathologist

During this 2012 season, late blight on tomatoes isn’t late. It was already confirmed in commercial potato and tomato fields on the NC coast weeks ago, however, we weren’t sure when we would see it in western North Carolina, where a substantial amount of tomatoes are grown commercially in the mountains. Today (July 5th, 2012) we confirmed late blight from foliar samples collected on July 3rd in a conventional field of tomatoes in Mills River, NC (Henderson County).

Without proper preventative measures and the right weather conditions, some diseases like late blight can completely defoliate and destroy a crop within two to three weeks. Due to moderate temperatures, frequent rainfall, and heavy morning dew during the growing season, late blight on tomatoes, caused by Phytophthora infestans, can be severe in the mountains of North Carolina, as well as in late plantings in the piedmont. Despite intensive efforts for over 150 years to control P. infestans, it remains one of the world’s most costly plant pathogens, concerning either direct loss and/or in the need for intensive use of costly fungicides. The recent spread of aggressive, Ridomil-resistant strains of this pathogen on tomatoes in NC has further aggravated the problem, making the pathogen much harder to control. 

The pathogen attacks all aboveground parts of the tomato plant. The first symptoms of late blight on tomato leaves are irregularly shaped, water-soaked lesions (Figure 1); these lesions are typically found on the younger, more succulent leaves in the top portion of the plant canopy. During humid conditions, white cottony growth may be visible on the underside of affected leaves (Figure 2). As the disease progresses, lesions enlarge causing leaves to brown, shrivel and die (Figure 3). Late blight can also attack tomato fruit in all stages of development. Rotted fruit are typically firm with greasy spots that eventually become leathery and chocolate brown in color (Figure 4); these spots can enlarge to the point of encompassing the entire fruit.

Causal Organism
Late blight of tomato is caused by the fungus-like organism Phytophthora infestans. The pathogen is best known for causing the devastating Irish potato famine of the 1840's, which killed over a million people, and caused another million to leave the country. Besides tomatoes, P. infestans can only infect a few other closely related plants including potato, petunia and related solanaceous weeds such as hairy nightshade. The pathogen is favored by cool, wet weather; clouds protect the spores from exposure to UV radiation by the sun, and wet conditions allow the spores to infect when they land on leaves. Nights in the 50's and days in the 80's accompanied by rain, fog or heavy dew are ideal for late blight infection. Under these conditions, lesions may appear on leaves within 3-5 days of infection, followed by white cottony growth soon thereafter (Figure 2). This white cottony growth is a sign of rampant spore (sporangia) production. Although spores may also be produced on tomato fruit, they are more commonly produced on leaves. Sporangia can be spread readily by irrigation, equipment, wind and rain and can be blown into neighboring fields within 5-10 miles or more, thus beginning another cycle of disease.

Disease Management

Host resistance
Plant resistance is not currently an integral component in late blight management for commercial production of fresh market tomatoes. However, new breeding lines resistant to some strains of P. infestans have recently been developed at the Mountain Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Fletcher, NC by tomato breeder Dr. Randy Gardner. A new campari-type (small fruited) variety called ‘Mountain Magic’ that has resistance to some strains of P. infestans, in addition to early blight, which should be available to growers in the following years.

There are several diseases that attack tomato leaves and fruit in this region. Therefore it is necessary to use a combination of different products in a spray program to optimize management of these diverse pathogens, including strobilurins, mancozeb, and chlorothalonil. One consideration is that different products have different preharvest intervals (PHI). A product with a PHI greater than 1 day such as mancozeb (PHI = 5 days) cannot be used when harvests are done 2 or more times per week. Another important consideration is fungicide resistance management. For example, pathogens may develop insensitivity (resistance) to the strobilurins (i.e. Amistar, Cabrio, Quadris or Tanos) if these products are used too frequently.

The application of fungicides plays a significant role in the control of late blight of fresh market tomatoes; however mefenoxam resistant strains of the pathogen have been identified throughout the southeast. Fungicides containing mefenoxam are recommended only when weather favors disease development and resistant populations have not been identified in the area that season- usually this means mefenoxam can ONLY be applied for the first application when it is first found in a county. Resistance development to this active ingredient can be very rapid; use of this product after pathogen establishment in the area is not warranted or recommended.

Commercial growers in western NC should apply protectant products since controlling late blight preventatively is better than after infection. Before late blight infection occurs, (Jeanine's comment: these product recommendations are for conventional growers) mancozeb products such as Dithane, Manzate and Penncozeb work well early in the season before harvest (5-day PHI); chlorothalonil products (Bravo, Equus) work best during fruit growth (0-day PHI). In addition, several other chemistries such as cyazofamid (Ranman), fluopicolide tank mixed with a protectant (Presidio + chlorothalonil), and mandipropamid (Revus TOP) work well against this pathogen as foliar sprays.

Table 3-55 of the SE Vegetable Crop Handbook provides efficacy ratings against this disease. If you do not have a hard copy of the handbook, you can access it online
In addition, the NCSU tomato spray program web site can provide advice on spray schedules and rates. The late blight products come into the spray program at week 9.
Figure 1.The first symptoms of late blight on tomato leaves are irregularly shaped, water-soaked lesions.

Figure 2. During humid conditions, white cottony growth of P. infestans may be visible on the underside of affected leaves.

Figure 3. P. infestans can cause leaves to turn brown, shrivel and die.

Figure 4. Infected fruit are typically firm with spots that eventually become leathery and chocolate brown in color.
Figure 5.  Lemon-shaped sporangia of P. infestans attached to sporangiophores.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hop Field Day in Raleigh-change in directions & meeting place

I already made these changes on the original post, but I want to make sure that those of you who subscribe to this blog or get the changes on Facebook are aware of this.  This relates only to the Hop Field Day in Raleigh on July 14th:

 Directions. We just got word from the farm crew that they'll be working on the main road to the station on the day of the field day. So, you won't be able to go down Chi Road that day. Please go down Inwood Road (a slightly more roundabout route) and we will meet at the 'J Edward Booth' building (parking adjacent) instead of at the pole barn. This is a larger nicer building anyway.

Here's the farm map with all those roads listed on them:

There will be signs posted directing people around.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Two Opportunities to Visit the NC State Research Hop Yards-with UPDATES!!!

This year you will have the opportunity to visit both the Raleigh and Mills River based research hop yards.  (if your browser cuts off part of the flyers, just click on them to view them fully).

The first will be an "Open House" at the Mills River hop yard close to the Asheville Airport. This is not a full-fledged field day but an opportunity to view the ten varieties in their second year of growth before we start harvesting them.  The differences between varieties is pretty dramatic this year. We have experienced Downy Mildew, spider mites, and now Japanese beetles and how the varieties have reacted have been quite different.  Jeanine Davis and Kelly Gaskill will be present to answer your questions.

This open house will take place on Thursday, July 5 from 5 PM to 7 PM at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station at 74 Research Drive in Mills River, NC 28759.  (Directions:
From Interstate 26, take Exit #40 (the Asheville Regional Airport exit). At the top of the exit ramp turn toward the airport onto NC Hwy 280. Just past the end of the airport runway, the highway curves to the right. Turn right at the first road after the runway onto Old Fanning Bridge Road. After ~1 mile you will cross the French Broad river. The research station is on the right but directly across the street there will be signs directing you left onto Butler Farm Road. Follow signs out to the hop yard.

This project is funded by the a USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant administered through the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The second event will be a full-fledged field day at the Raleigh hop yard near the NC State University campus.  It will include indoor lectures followed by a tour of the hop yard.  Topics to be covered will include variety selection, planting tips, trellis designs, nutrient management, pest/disease issues, harvesting and drying cones, basic economic analysis, and more. 

This field day will take place Saturday, July 14 from 9 AM to 12 PM at the Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory.  Directions.  Meet at the pole barn.  We just got word from the farm crew that they'll be working on the main road to the station on the day of the field day.  So, you won't be able to go down Chi Road that day.  Please go down Inwood Road (a slightly more roundabout route) and we will meet at the 'J Edward Booth' building (parking adjacent) instead of at the pole barn.  This is a larger nicer building anyway.

Here's the farm map with all those roads listed on them:

There will be signs posted directing people around.

This project is funded by the GoldenLeaf Foundation and the USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant administered through the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Want to understand soil fertility in organic systems?

If you have never heard a lecture by Dr. Mark Schonbeck and you want to learn more about soil fertility, compost, soil tests, and cover crops in organic production systems, this is a not to be missed opportunity!  And it is happening this Saturday, so sign-up now.

P.S. It is worth it just to see the Mills River Educational Farm!

(if your browser is cutting off part of the text in the announcement below, double click on it to see it separately)

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Organic Training Farm Tour

Our advanced organic training, with educators from NC, AL, and AR, started out this morning at New Sprout Farm in Black Mountain. Michael Porterfield explained how they produce certified organic produce on a large scale and get their products in local supermarkets such as Ingles.

After several hours at New Sprout Farm we headed over to Black Bird Cafe in Black Mountain for a delightful lunch on their patio. I had a delicious open-faced turkey sandwich with melted brie. Yum.

Our next farm visit was at Red Wing Farm where the farmers, Beth and Christopher, impressed our group with all they grow and accomplish on their small farm. They produce lots of bedding plants, vegetables and herbs in the spring, and all kinds of vegetables during the growing season. With the help of several interns, they manage to grow beautiful produce, dairy goats, chickens, and ducks.

Our final visit was to Cane Creek Asparagus Co. & CSA. Glenda amazed us all as she explained how only her and her husband farm enough vegetables to serve a 80 family CSA. That's all they do and they take great pride in doing it properly.

We completed our day with a most delightful and delicious dinner at Laurey's in Asheville. Juicy fried chicken breasts, a very tasty sweetpotato dish, cole slaw, biscuits, fruit salad and their signature brownies. It was wonderful.

Now to rest up for another full day tomorrow.

The Three State Organic Training Has Begun

With funding from Southern SARE obtained by Tuskegee University, we have embarked on the advanced organic training for agricultural educators from North Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas.  The beginning level training last year was organized by Leonard Githnji at Tuskegee and held in Alabama. I organized this advanced level training for the Asheville, NC area.  Many of the participants arrived late this afternoon, so we started our training with an introductory session and wonderful dinner at Posana Cafe in Asheville.

I have been planning this training for months and had all my farm visits and restaurants lined up way in advance, when last Saturday the restaurant that was supposed to serve us tonight backed out with the stupid excuse of "I didn't realize it was Father's Day." I put a desperate plea out on Facebook and one of the farms we are going to visit suggested I try Posana. I sent them an email Saturday night, and Chef Peter got right back with me. Even though our budget was quite limited, he was enthusiastic about working with us.  Thank you, Peter!

Thirty-two of us arrived tonight at 6 pm and you can see what a beautiful room they had us in. The service was wonderful, the setting attractive and comfortable, and the entire experience was perfectly delightful. The chef put together a special menu just for our group with about 85% of the food coming from local farmers!
The presentation of the food was beautiful and all the dishes were delicious.  I had the Sunny Creek Farms Bibb Salad with tender lettuce and the thinnest slices of crunchy big radishes. My entree was the Sunburst Farms Trout with the best cheddar grits I've ever had, sweet roasted cauliflower, and a delightful tomato butter. But the dish that made the whole group go "ahhhhh!" was the pecan chiffon cake with peach mousse. Oh my. It was light as a cloud, subtly flavored, and lightly sweetened. It was the best cake I can ever remember having.

Chef Peter gave a short presentation to our group, explaining how he sources from local farmers, the challenges and opportunities of buying local, and the relationships he's built. The group had lots of questions which he most graciously answered. 

All in all, it was a wonderful way to start our training and I am excited about the upcoming two days. And, I will be making plans for my husband and I to return soon to Posana's for dinner!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

How the NC Component of the East Coast Broccoli Project is Looking

Just wanted to share a few pictures from the North Carolina trials of the East Coast Broccoli Project.  We have been busy planting our expanded Phase I trials which include many new breeding lines that we are evaluating for western North Carolina conditions. We also have a smaller selection of varieties and breeding lines that we are planting out over many dates to see how they respond under ideal and not so ideal broccoli growing conditions, i.e., heat and cold.

First Step Farm is growing all our transplants for this project and the plants are always beautiful. Thanks, guys!  After we bring the plants to the field, we sort out the plants for each plot into paper bags marked with the plot number.

Then we organize the bags in the order they need to go into the field.

Then we set the bags alongside the plots where the plants need to be transplanted (not a bad place to work, huh?  This is the Mountain Research Station in Waynseville, NC).

One person walks alongside and hands the plants in the bag to the two people riding on the waterwheel transplanter. We are setting double rows into raised beds with white-on-black plastic mulch and drip-irrigation.

Here are plants that were set a few weeks ago.

And some older plants. Everything looks great because of my dedicated staff (thanks, ladies!) and the staff of the Mountain Research Station.

This project is led by Cornell University and is funded by a USDA-SCRI grant.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wort & Yeast blogs on NC Malt Making and Hop Growing

The blog "Wort & Yeast" did a "Bringing it Home" piece this week on Riverbend Malt House and an interview with yours truly on the NC Hops Research Project. Heres the link.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Downy Mildew on Hops

We have some diseases or disorders showing up on some of the hops in our variety trial in Mills River, so we have been sending samples to the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic at NC State University. They have not been able to identify one fast growing fungi present on many of the samples. I will let you know what that is as soon as the pathologists have a positive identification.

I did want you to know right away that we did get a positive identification for Downy Mildew on the variety, Galena. You should be scouting your hop yards several times a week and reviewing what Downy Mildew looks like.

Sue Colucci, extension agent and pathologist in our area, did a good blog piece (with great pictures and control recommendations) on Downy Mildew on hops that you can access here: Downy Mildew on Hops in Western NC.

If you suspect that you have Downy Mildew, sent a sample (use an overnight service and do not send on Friday) to the NCSU Plant Disease and Insect Clinic. I encourage you to report your findings on the Southern Appalachian Hops Guild blog. I'm of the opinion that the more we share information on our hops growing experiences, the faster we will find solutions to our challenges and grow this industry.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stevia Production Coming to NC and GA

Farmers have been asking me about stevia production for years, so I was excited to see this announcement that there will be some large scale field production of stevia in North Carolina and Georgia this year.  We experimented with this crop on a very tiny scale in the past.  Germination was always our problem.  Once we had transplants, however, the plants did great in both western and eastern North Carolina.  The plants are tender perennials and will not survive our winters, so we grew them as annuals.  I’m sure this company has better germplasm to work with then we did, so here's hoping for some successful stevia production in NC!

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Research Program Assistant Position Open-Medicinal Herbs and Organics

Harvesting Ju Hua, a Chinese Medicinal Herb

JOB TITLE:   Research Program Assistant

POSITION: Research Program Assistant (Position # 62418)

POSITION LOCATION:  Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, 455 Research Drive, Mills River, North Carolina 28759

SALARY: $30,000 with full benefits, including health insurance (*this is an EPA position)

JOB OPEN DATE: April 30, 2012 or until suitable candidate is found

DEADLINE FOR RECEIVING APPLICATIONS: until a suitable candidate is identified.


POSITION DESCRIPTION/RESPONSIBILITIES: This is a time-limited, full-time position for 30 to 36 months contingent upon available funding and satisfactory performance. It will be the responsibility of this employee to help develop and implement a new research initiative on medicinal herbs.  This will entail supervision of a graduate student and temporary seasonal workers.  This employee will also be responsible for providing major support for the outreach component of this faculty member’s program.  This will include redesigning and maintaining websites and blogs, posting on various social media platforms, writing media releases, and maintaining listservs.  The employee will help write, edit, and publish scientific publications on a wide range of research projects.  This position will also provide assistance with other projects in the program, e.g., field work, assistance with trainings, and organizing workshops and conferences.  Current projects are focused on Chinese medicinal herbs, woodland botanicals, Echinacea, hops, truffles, organic vegetable production, broccoli, heirloom tomatoes, non-timber forest products, and high tunnels. The position will be housed at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, NC.

QUALIFICATIONS: The applicant must have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, although a master’s degree is preferred.  Applicant should have published at least one refereed scientific paper, be a prolific writer of popular press type articles either online and/or in print, and be experienced with website design.  Some horticultural research experience is necessary.  Experience with medicinal herbs and organic agriculture is highly desirable. Excellent organizational, interpersonal, computer, and writing skills are required. Applicant should enjoy and be comfortable with communicating with a diverse group of people on the phone, one on one, and in front of groups. The applicant should be capable of producing and giving professional reports and presentations. The applicant must be willing to travel across North Carolina. Travel will sometimes include evenings and on weekends. The applicant must be capable of doing all the described activities with a minimum of supervision.

APPLICATIONS: Applicants should apply through the NC State University Job site at . Search for the position under “Horticultural Science” or Position #62418  Applicants should include a cover letter that details one’s interest, experience, and qualifications relating to this position; a curriculum vita; unofficial copies of transcripts (if last degree was obtained within the past ten years); and names and contact information for three references.  When that process is completed, please send an email to stating that you have submitted an application.

To learn more about the program of Dr. Jeanine Davis, visit  You can access her other websites, blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts from there.

*Exempt from State Personnel Act

NC State University is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer. NC State welcomes all persons without regard to sexual orientation. Individuals with disabilities desiring accommodations in the application process should contact the above listed individual.