Monday, February 27, 2017

Want to Grow Industrial Hemp in NC? Applications being taken now.

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension website for Industrial Hemp is now live!!!  Check it out at:

And you can put in your application to grow industrial hemp now, too. Here is the press release:


Sandy Stewart, director
NCDA&CS Research Stations Division

Applications being accepted for the Industrial
Hemp Research Pilot Program

RALEIGH – Applications are now being accepted for a pilot program to grow industrial hemp for research in North Carolina. There is no deadline to apply for the program, which is open to farmers who can show evidence of income from a farming operation.
“The N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission has worked diligently and quickly to establish temporary rules before the 2017 planting season,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “There has been considerable interest in this program, and we expect a good number of farmers to apply for licenses.”
Under the rules, farmers will need to apply for a license, which will allow the holder to plant, harvest and market the crop. Licenses can be for one or three years. Applications will be reviewed and approved or denied by the Industrial Hemp Commission.
Applicants will have to pay an annual fee, must provide evidence of having income from a farming operation, must provide a written statement of the research objective, and must provide access to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Plant Industry Division and law enforcement for sampling in the field or in storage.
Applicants can find more eligibility requirements online at
To obtain an application, go to and click on the application link, or contact Meghan Roche, seed and fertilizer field supervisor, at 919-707-3735 or by email at

Friday, February 24, 2017

Only One Month till the Hops Conference in North Carolina!

The South Atlantic Regional Hops conference is coming up really soon. Have you registered yet? We have plenty of room for attendees for the Saturday educational program, but if you want to go on the Friday tour, too, there are only 28 tickets left that include the tour (that was at 3:30 pm on 2/24/2017). This is going to be a great conference specifically for and about Southern hop production. There are bigger hops conferences in the north and out west, but hops production is region specific. We have issues with day length, heat, and humidity that they don't have in those other regions. Even our soils are very different from those in the Pacific Northwest. So, if you want to learn how to grow hops in the South, this is the conference to attend. If you want to buy hops from Southern growers, this is the conference to attend. If you just want to hang out with a lot of really fun, optimist, entrepreneurial people, this is the conference to attend.

We still have room for sponsors and exhibitors, too.  Here is the link to the Conference Website:
Here is the program for Saturday (and the tour information is below that):

7:00-8:00 Exhibitor Set-up 

8:00-9:00 Registration

9:00-9:15 Welcome-Jeanine Davis

9:15-10:00 Keynote: The Hops Industry Across the Globe and Where the South Atlantic Growers Fit In-Scott Jennings, Sierra Nevada Brewery, Mills River

10:00-10:30 Break

Concurrent Sessions: Beginners (B) Experienced Growers (E)

10:30-11:10 (B) How to grow hops in the South Atlantic-the basics-Laura Siegle, Virginia Extension-and Holly Scoggins, Virginia Tech (E) Processing hops-drying, pelletizing, storing-Solomon Rose, Organarchy Hops

11:20-12:00 (B) If I could do it all over again-a grower‘s perspective-Phillip Davis, Sticky Indian Hops-and Stan Driver, Hoot'n Holler Hops (E) Our experiences with hop harvesters-Jeanine Davis-NC State University, Justen Dick, Kelly Ridge Farms, and Solomon Rose, Organarchy Hops

12:00-1:00 Lunch and presentations by Platinum and Gold Sponsors

1:00-1:40 (B) Selling hops to local brewers-Phillip Davis, Sticky Indian Hops and Heidi Dunkelberg, H&K Farms (E) Hops chemistry from ground to glass-Ken Hurley, Virginia Tech

1:50-2:30 (B) The business of growing hops (financing, taxes, insurance, incorp. etc)-Adam Hopkins, University of Tennessee (E) Brewers Panel-How are local growers doing?-Scott Jennings, Sierra Nevada, Kevin Sondey, Catawba Brewing Co., and Matt Norman, Frog Level Brewing

2:30-3:00 Break

Concurrent Sessions: A and B

3:00-3:40 (A) Old Dominion Hops Coop-what it is, how it works, and benefits of belonging–Stan Driver, Hoot'n Holler Hops and Nat Abeles, Highline Hops (B) Hops and daylength-grower and researcher experiments-Justen Dick, Kelly Ridge Farms, and Colleen Doherty or Eric Waddell, NC State University

3:50-4:30 (A) What am I allowed to spray on my hops? Laura Siegle, Virginia Extension and Patrick Jones, NC Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services (B) Leveraging the local growers' competitive advantages and varieties to avoid planting in 2017-John Bryce, the Lupulin Exchange

4:30-4:45 Break

Single Sessions

4:45-5:45 Results from the North Carolina and Virginia university hop growing studies-Jeanine Davis, NC State University, Holly Scoggins, Virginia Tech and Laban Rutto, Virginia State

5:45-6:00 Wrap-Up, choose site for next year, thank you.

Friday afternoon tour:

One of the tours is sold out, but this one still has 28 seats left (as of 2/24 at 3:45): Riverbend Malt House, the NCSU Research Hop Yard, North River Farms (barley), and Sierra Nevada Brewery.

 Friday evening brewery tour:

 There will be a single bus making a continuous circuit including the breweries and the hotel. This will run from 6 pm to 10 pm (or start as soon as we get the bus back from the Friday afternoon tours and unloaded). You are welcome to get on and off at will, but if you miss the last bus, you need to find your way back to the hotel (lots of taxi and Uber opportunities in Asheville). Catawba Brewing Co. is our special partner for the evening. They are going to brew a conference beer made with local ingredients! Attendees will get a ticket for one glass of the conferernce beer, but after that you will have to buy all your own beer and food that evening. Catawba Brewing Co. is also offering a brewhouse tour and tasting for our group, but you have to register and pay for that separately through this Catawba Eventbrite page. One World Brewing is also offering a ticket for a glass of beer for our attendees on the Friday evening brewery tour.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

NC Hops: Disease and Insect Control Recommendations

We get many questions on how to grow hops and what can be used on hops to control diseases and insects. Growers often turn to the internet for answers, but particularly in the case of hops, what works in one area might not work in another. Most of the hops grown in the U.S. are produced in the Pacific Northwest where the summer days are long, the climate is hot and dry, and soils are alkaline. Here in the Southeast our longest summer day is really a bit too short for the commercial hop varieties that are available to us. Our climate is hot and wet and our soils are acidic. We experience more disease pressure and encounter some insects not often seen in the Pacific Northwest. So, recommendations for growing hops in the Southeast is different from those you'll find for growing them in places such as Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Michigan, and New York.

So last summer, extension horticulturists, entomologists, and pathologists from across the Southeastern U.S. came together to update the Southeastern Vegetable Crop Handbook and this time we decided to include hops. In time we will have a production manual dedicated just to hops, but we wanted to make this information readily available to growers and extension agents and this annually revised handbook, available in print and on-line, seemed like the best way to do it.

Below is a link to the on-line pdf version of the handbook. The cultural practices for growing hops and recommended varieties can be found on page 60. In the back of the book you will find insect management recommendations (i.e., insecticides and miticides) on page 141 in Table 2-12. Disease control management recommendations (i.e., fungicides) can be found on page 190 in Table 3-18. Remember to always read and follow label directions.

And that the 2017 South Atlantic Hops Conference will be held on March 24 and 25 in Asheville, NC. We expect to sell out again this year, especially for tickets that include the tours on Friday, so don't delay. Below is a link to the Eventbrite page for more information and tickets.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Farmlink Programs in NC Join Forces!

NC FarmLink and WNC FarmLink have recently merged their databases in an effort to form a stronger and more unified partnership of farm linking organizations in North Carolina. Both organizations were formed within the last five years to serve different regions of North Carolina. Now, their combined efforts not only aid farmland access for both beginning and expanding farmers but also with farmland preservation. Farmland loss is an increasing risk across the state due to retiring farmers and development pressure. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, between 2007 and 2012, North Carolina lost 2,695 farms and approximately 60,000 acres of farmland. "We are thrilled with this merger and strong partnership," says Suzanna Denison, WNC FarmLink's land access coordinator. "We are excited to move forward together as a more unified team for both farmland access and preservation in North Carolina."

FarmLink services provide opportunities for farmers and landowners to connect in order to make farmland matches possible. Now there is a single database in North Carolina for those seeking land and those looking to find a farmer in order to keep their land in agriculture. Further information can be found on the NC FarmLink website. While on this website, farmers can look for available farmland with searchable terms such as acreage, county, and current farm production. Landowners can search the farmer profiles for someone to farm their land and farmers can search these same profiles for aspiring farmers to continue farming their land when they retire. Both of these options provide a web tool that can help make farmland matches possible and ultimately assist in the preservation of North Carolina's farms. WNCFarmlink provides land matching support services to the western region of the state, including one-on-one consultations, workshops, and technical and legal land access support. The NC and WNC Farmlink services are free.

The goals of NC and WNC Farmlink include:
  • Providing a web-based farmland matching service, where users can search and pursue matches on their own.
  • Providing resources and service provider information, which can help support the farmland access or transition process.
  • Creating farmland access opportunities that support local agriculture and economies.
  • Ensuring farmland preservation in North Carolina through these farmland matching services.
"At NC and WNC Farmlink, we want to help ease the challenges in either finding land to farm or someone to farm your land," Denison says. "Not only do we provide farmland matching tools, we also offer on the ground support to determine if it is a viable land match, as well as one-on-one consultations and technical support in lease arrangements, farm financing, and other factors key to successful farmland access or transition."

About NC FarmLink:
NC Farmlink connects farmers, landowners, and service providers in North Carolina as a free land access web tool co-managed by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and WNC Farmlink. It is collaboratively managed and supported by a network of partners across the state. For more information, visit:

About WNC FarmLink:
WNC FarmLink matches farm and forest landowners with new and experienced farmers eager to find land to farm in WNC. The program is a free service to WNC residents. WNC FarmLink offers personalized one-on-one consultation, provides group workshops to help beginning farmers negotiate equitable leases and prepare logistically and financially for long-term land tenure and purchase, which is a major obstacle for beginning farmers. WNC FarmLink is a partnership of organizations working for farmland transition and preservation. The program is grant funded. The land access coordinator has her office in the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy offices in Asheville and is a North Carolina State University employee in the NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program.  For more information, visit:

Contact: Suzanna Denison, WNC FarmLink land access coordinator. 828-785-4284;;

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The WNC Medicinal Herb Growers Club has posted their 2017 events!

The WNC Medicinal Herb Growers Club is a special little group in western North Carolina that not all that many people know about. They are doing a great job educating growers and wanna-be growers about all the ins and outs of being a successful medicinal herb grower. I wanted to bring their 2017 events to your attention. All are open to the public, so if you something of interest, just register and "come on out".
I maintain a blog page for the club that you can follow HERE. Details about all the events are included there.