Johnston County Ag Report

Johnston County Ag Report

January 28,  2015


The Johnston County Ag Report is edited weekly by Agricultural Extension Agents at the Johnston County Extension Center.  If you have any questions about the content, please call the Extension Center at 919-989-5380.


Tim Britton, Extension Agent – Field Crops

Dan Wells, Extension Agent – Livestock

Amie Newsome, Extension Agent – Horticulture

Shawn Banks, Extension Agent – Horticulture

Bryant Spivey, County Extension Director

Making the Most of your Wheat Crop

Late January to early February is the time to determine if the crop has enough tillers to optimize yield. This is a very important decision this year with current wheat prices and inputs cost. Apply N in January or February only if tiller densities are less than 50 tillers per square foot. If N is not needed, applying N in January or February results in increased risk of freeze damage, disease, lodging, and reduced yield. If tillering is low, however, an early application of N can help to stimulate further tiller development in the last few weeks before growth stage 30, resulting in higher yield and profit. The following guidelines will help you decide whether to apply N in late January or early February.

To determine tiller density, count well-developed tillers (those with at least three leaves). Ignore small tillers that have only one or two leaves. Do not be concerned with differences between the main plant and younger side tillers. Just count any stem with at least three leaves as a tiller. The final count will include main plants, tillers, and side tillers. Count all the tillers that have at least three leaves in a yard of row. Do this in several places and take an average. Tiller density is then computed as follows:

Tillers per row ft X 12 ÷ row width = tillers per square foot

If you have 50 or more tillers/square foot- you can apply 20-30lbs of N if crop looks nitrogen starved, or hold off on N until growth stage 30 when you can add 80-100lbs/A.

One clue that the wheat is at growth stage 30 is that the plants start to stand up and get taller. However, the best way to tell if wheat is at growth stage 30 is to pull up several plants and split the stems down their centers all the way to the base where the roots grow. Prior to growth stage 30, the growing point will be at the very bottom of the stem just above the first roots. At growth stage 30, the growing point will have moved ½-inch up the stem.

If you have 30-50 tillers/square foot-you need 40-50lbs/A of N now and 60-70lbs at growth stage 30.

If you have 20-30 tillers/square foot-you need 60-70lbs/A of N now and 40-50lbs at growth stage 30.

Use a Nitrogen source with Sulfur to eliminate Sulfur deficiencies. Apply 15-20lbs/A of sulfur with your N source. Sulfur (S) increases kernel weight, kernel size, grain protein, yield, and test-weight. Sulfur is very soluble and can be easily leached.

Another issue with too much water can be potassium. The most common deficiency symptom for K in small grains is stunted growth and early lodging. Plants with a K deficiency will have low vigor, poor drought or disease tolerance, and reduced kernel size. Under severe K deficiency, the leaf tip and margins on the lower leaves will bronze and eventually turn yellow and die. Deficiency symptoms are more likely on deep sandy soils or soils that are waterlogged and compacted. Magnesium can also be an issue in low pH environments. Look at your soil sample reports.

2014 Farm Bill Decisions

Farmers across the country and in Johnston County are faced with many decisions for how they enroll and comply with the 2014 US Farm Bill and some of the deadlines are approaching rapidly.  In a recent meeting at the Johnston County Agricultural Center Rod Rejesus, Extension Specialist in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at NC State University highlighted the “Big Four” areas of election about which growers must decide or enroll for the coming 5 years.

The Big Four

1. Base reallocation & payment yield updates

2. Price Loss Coverage (PLC)

3. Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC)

4. Shallow Loss Programs

- Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO)

- Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) Cotton Growers Only

While the decisions on these items are important, the answers to the questions are not simple.  According to Rejesus, the decisions to update yields and reallocate base acres are linked to producer decisions on whether to elect PLC, ARC, and even SCO for program crops.  Therefore, growers are best served to make these decisions at the same time.

Since the farm bill enrollment questions are complicated and the decisions are permanent for the duration of the farm bill, farmers need good information with which to make the decisions.  The US Congress funded two different land-grant universities to develop computer decision tools to help growers make these decisions.  The tools utilize farmer data and projected prices to give probabilities on which decisions are most likely to provide the greatest benefit.  Rejesus explained that the Texas A&M tool fits NC somewhat better because it accounts for the diversity of crops that we produce in the South.

There are several good resources that are available for growers and they can be found at  Resources on this website include a recorded presentation of Rejesus explaining the different elections that farmers must make, a link to the Texas A&M Decision Aid, and worksheets to help growers organize data that is necessary to use the decision tool. 

Local Growers Represent Johnston County in State Yield Contest

John Langdon Farms of Benson placed first in the State in the No-Till Irrigated Class with a corn yield of 282.4 bushels/acre. The winning corn hybrid was DCK 68-05. This entry was also the 1st runner up in the State irrigated division.

Ray Boswell of Selma placed first in the district with a yield of 109.6 bushels/acre, planting Southern States 520. Second place was awarded to Harold W Lee and Sons of Four Oaks with a yield of 104.4 bushels/acre planting Dyna-Gro 9171.

Harold W Lee and Sons also won a district award for the most efficient soybean yield, raising 60.4-bushels/acre at a cost of $3.79/bushel and along with Danny Howell of Princeton received recognition for joining the 60-bushel soybean yield club. Will Boykin of Middlesex received recognition for joining the 70-bushel soybean yield club. Ray Boswell and Harold W Lee and Sons received recognition for joining the 100-bushel wheat yield club.

Tim Britton, Agricultural Extension Agent in Johnston County, received the State Achievement Awards for corn and wheat yields in his district.

The state yield contests are run by North Carolina State University and sponsored by the North Carolina Corn, Small Grains, and Soybean Associations.

The North Carolina AgrAbility Partnership (NCAP) needs your help

The North Carolina AgrAbility Partnership (NCAP) needs your help in determining the number of farmers across our state who have a disability or other chronic health condition. This information will help us know what disabilities or chronic conditions are most common so that we can plan most effectively to serve individuals farming with a disability.

To gather this information, we would appreciate your completion of the attached survey. Completion is strictly voluntary and will take approximately 5-10 minutes. Your identity and answers will be kept COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS.  The information you provide cannot be linked or traced back to you in any way.

Should you have questions about this study, please contact Robin Tutor-Marcom, Director, North Carolina Agromedicine Institute at 252.744.1008. If you have questions about your rights as someone participating in research, you may call the UMCIRB Office at phone number 252-744-2914 (days, 8:00 am-5:00 pm).  If you would like to report a complaint or concern about this study, you may call Norma Epley, the Director of UMCIRB Office, at 252-744-1971.

Again, you do not have to take part in this research and you can stop the survey at any time. Here is the link to the AgrAbility survey.

 Private Applicators Recertification/Safety Classes

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service is inviting all private applicators

whose license expires in 2015 to attend one of four Private Applicator Pesticide Recertification/Safety classes. These two-hour classes will be held on the following dates:

Thursday, February 5, 2015, beginning at 3:30 PM-5:30 PM

                   Thursday, February 12, 2015 beginning at 6:30-8:30 PM

                   Thursday, February 19, 2015 beginning at 3:00-5:00 PM

                   Thursday, September 10, 2015, beginning at 6:30-8:30 PM

The classes will be at the Johnston County Ag Center in Smithfield on NC 210 Hwy.   Applicators are reminded that licenses expire at the end of the year, but all recertification credits must be obtained before September 30th of the year the license expires. Applicators are asked to bring their Pesticide Credit Report Card with the bar code scan along with them to class. Please call Tim Britton at 989-5380 to check credits.

2015 Tobacco Good Agricultural Practice Training Dates

Tobacco producers are strongly encouraged to attend a training date that is convenient.  There are no additional dates scheduled for 2015 than those provided at the GAP Connections website.  A listing of available dates, times and locations is available at the GAP Connections Calendar

Small Grain, Corn and Grain Sorghum Meeting-February 5, 2015

 The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Johnston, Sampson, Wake, and Harnett counties are inviting small grain and grain sorghum growers to a production meeting on Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 5:30 PM. The meeting will be at the Johnston County Ag Center Auditorium, 2736 NC 210 Hwy, Smithfield, NC, and will begin with dinner prior to presentations from Extension Specialist, NCDA, and agents.  Ron Heiniger will discuss small grain production, specifically the winter stages of wheat and what growers need to look for and corn production.  Wesley Everman and Dominic Reisig will talk about small, grain, corn, and grain sorghum production.  Continuing education credits will be offered for pesticide applicators and for Certified Crop Advisers. Pre-registration is required for the meeting. Please mark your calendar and call the Johnston County Extension Center at (919) 989-5380 to let us know that you are coming.

Soybean Production Meeting-February 19, 2015-12:00PM

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service is inviting all growers to attend the soybean production meeting on Thursday, February 19, 2015, at 12:00 pm. The meeting will be at the Johnston County Ag Center Auditorium. Soybean varieties, disease management, and weed control will be discussed. A sponsored meal will be served and continuing education credits will be offered for pesticide applicators and for Certified Crop Advisers. Pre-registration is required for the meeting. Please mark your calendar and call the Johnston County Extension Center at (919) 989-5380 to let us know that you are coming.

 Regional Peanut Production Meeting- February 16, 2015

 The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Johnston, Wilson, Wayne, Harnett, and Greene are inviting all growers to attend the regional peanut production meeting on Monday, February 16, 2015 at 12:00 PM. The meeting will be held at the West Farm at 1365 NC 222 East, Fremont, NC 27830. This will be about 2 miles east of Fremont. Peanut varieties, insect, disease management, and weed control will be discussed. A sponsored meal will be served and continuing education credits will be offered for pesticide applicators. Pre-registration is required for the meeting. Please mark your calendar and call the Johnston County Extension Center at (919) 989-5380 to let us know that you are coming.

Regional Cotton Production Meeting- February 23, 2015

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland, and Harnett Counties are inviting all growers to attend the cotton production meeting on Monday, February 23, 2015. The meeting will be held at Performance Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, 605 Warsaw Rd in Clinton at 4:00 PM. Cotton varieties and management, insect management, and weed control will be discussed. A sponsored meal will be served at the conclusion of the meeting and continuing education credits will be offered for pesticide applicators and for Certified Crop Advisers. Pre-registration is required for the meeting. Please mark your calendar and call the Johnston County Extension Center at (919) 989-5380 to let us know that you are coming.

Tobacco Short Course

The NC Tobacco Research Commission and NCSU are sponsoring a 4-day Tobacco Short Course for 25 participants.  The course will be held Monday, February 2 5:30 pm through Friday, February 6 noon.  NC tobacco growers, newly hired extension agents, university technicians including Research Station tobacco supervisors, and tobacco-related agribusiness personnel are encouraged to apply.

Variety selection, seedling production, fertilization, weed/disease/insect management, sucker control, mechanization, curing, economics/marketing, Risk Management Agency insurance, and GAP will be presented.

Rooming and the initial dinner will be at Embassy Suites Crabtree, 4700 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh, NC  27612.  On Tuesday, a study tour will include Edwards Farm (near Wendell), a demonstration by APHIS of checking for weed seed in processed leaf, possibly a wood pelletizing facility, and China Tobacco International – North America (in Raleigh).

Those selected to attend will be responsible for transportation costs to and from Embassy Suites Crabtree.  The hotel room (shared with another participant), meals, and instruction costs will be paid from a grant provided by the NC Tobacco Research Commission.  If a participant requires a private room, he/she will pay 1/2 of the room charge (approximately $70 per night for each of the 4 nights).

If interested, click here for a brief application.  Return the completed application to the Johnston County Cooperative Extension by Friday, January 2.  Please keep in mind our office will be closed January 1.

Interactive Pesticide Training-March 17, 2015

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Johnston County is inviting all commercial and private applicators, dealers, consultants, and public ground operators to attend an Interactive Pesticide Training class. This two-hour class will be held at the Johnston County Livestock Arena on Tuesday, March 17th. The arena is located at 520 County Home Road, Smithfield, NC 27577. The class will begin at 10:00 AM. Please bring your Pesticide Credit Report Card with the barcode to this class. Please call Tim Britton at 989-5380 for more information about the credits to be offered.

Annual Fit Testing-February 9 and 10, 2015

Annual fit testing will be on February 9th from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and February 10th from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Johnston County Ag Center. HRMA is charging $25 per person for the fit testing. Payment will be collected at the time of the test.

If you were fitted last year, you must bring your respirator. If you were not fitted, you do not need to acquire a respirator prior to the fit testing. Medical clearance will be required for individuals who were not fitted last year. You can obtain medical clearance at or at your local doctor’s office. If you have questions, please call Tim Britton or Bryant Spivey at 919-989-5380.

 Pesticide Exam Schedule-Johnston County

The North Carolina Pesticide exams will be offered on Wednesday, March 11th and Wednesday, August 12th at 1:00 PM at the Johnston County Ag Center. To take the exam, bring valid ID (Drivers License) and calculator. Please arrive by 12:30PM. For anyone wishing to take the private applicator exam, there will be a review at 10:00 AM.

 Pesticide and Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Day- April 18, 2015 

Need to clean out the barn, the chemical storage building, pantry, or underneath the sink. On April 18, 2015 North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Partnership with Johnston County Solid Waste and the NCDA will hold a Pesticide and Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Day. The event will take place at the Johnston County Livestock Arena at 520 County Home Road in Smithfield from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Acceptable items include old and unused pesticides, household cleaners, fluorescent (high TCLP mercury) lamps and bulbs from homeowners, and all types of household batteries i.e. Nickel-Cadmium, Lithium, Alkaline and Metal Hydride. In addition, we will be accepting oil base paint only from the public, but not latex. Oil base paint has a volatile organic odor and can only be washed-off with solvent, such as mineral spirits or kerosene. Latex paint, however, will wash-off with water. If the label is still attached, it will indicate oil base vs. latex. Again, we will only be accepting oil base paint and aerosol paints. The latex paint is a non-hazardous household liquid that can be solidified with sand, soil or kitty litter and disposed of in the landfill.

Prevention and Control of Kudzu Bug around the Home

 • Cut back any kudzu or wisteria you can.

• Seal cracks and crevices in your home.

Place screening over possible routes of insect entry into the house

Check to make sure screens on windows are well-seated and without holes

Check to make sure soffit, ridge, and gable vents are properly screened

Stuff steel wool into openings where screening cannot be used, such as around pipe penetrations

Make sure doors establish a tight seal when closed

Install doorsweeps

• Clean the area inside the house where bugs have appeared with soap and water.

• Large numbers of bugs should be vacuumed, not sprayed.

Use a shop vac with soap and water inside to clean up the bugs since the odor will linger in a conventional vacuum cleaner.

• Conventional bug sprays will kill the bugs, but make sure you use one that is safe for plants.

• Avoid squashing the bugs since their residue will leave a stain.

  Soil Sampling

 Due to the heavy rainfall, it is highly recommended that soil samples be taken as soon as possible this fall so you can take proper corrective measures. Soil sampling and testing is probably the most effective tool a grower has to help determine soil nutrient levels. Soil tests can help save the time and money as well as encourage a healthy environment by reducing unnecessary fertilizer use. Plants require sixteen essential nutrients to grow. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are major elements, and are required in relatively large amounts, whereas others like calcium, sulfur and magnesium are minor elements and are required in moderate amounts. Several others are required in extremely small amounts, but are important to proper plant growth. If any of the 16 essential elements are not present in adequate amounts, plant growth and development will decrease. On the other hand, if some of the same nutrients are present at excessive levels, they can be toxic to plants and be a source of pollution in the environment. It is very important to take soil samples correctly in order to receive accurate recommendations. Late summer or early fall is a goodtime to sample soil so that adequate lime may be applied and can react with the soil by raising the pH prior to spring planting. By sampling in the fall, sufficient time is allowed to make plans for the spring fertilizer applications. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) Agronomic Division, in Raleigh, analyzes soil samples, which are collected in North Carolina for free from April through November. The cost is $4.00/sample from December through March. Anyone submitting soil samples during this time period must make payment online via credit card at the NCDA & CS Agronomic Division website ( or contact the division directly to set up an escrow account (919-733-2655).   There are private companies in the State that charge a fee for samples. The soil test results indicate the amount of lime and fertilizer formulation recommendations needed for the area sampled. Remember a target pH of 6.0 in recommended for most row crops. Just follow the recommendations and you will be fine. You can use this website to help you understand your soil report.

Identify or grid off field areas. Each sample should represent a uniform soil area with similar past management. It is recommended that each sample represent 10 acres or less. The sampling area should also represent a field area that can be managed in a similar fashion (management zone) in regard to nutrient or limestone application and crop production. Choice of sample areas is determined by the soils present, past management and productivity, and goals desired for field management practices. That is, will the field be managed as whole unit or will nutrient and limestone applications can be made to subfield areas or identified management zones? Collect 15-20 small samples, from within the top six inches (3-6 samples at 4 inches for lawns) of the soil, within the identified are. It is important to take as uniform of a sample as possible. As samples are collected, mix them together thoroughly in a plastic bucket, as a galvanized or tin bucket can contaminate the soil and cause inaccurate test results.

Discard all stones, roots and debris. Transfer about a cup of soil from the small sample plastic bucket to the soil sample boxes provided by the NCDA. Sample boxes and forms are free from the Extension Service and forms can be accessed online.

Give each sample box a number or code that will indicate the area sampled, along with your name and address on each box.

Fill out the information sheet and bring it, along with your samples, to the local Cooperative Extension Service office in your area. Again, If a payment is required, it must be made online via credit card at the NCDA & CS Agronomic Division website ( or contact the division directly to set up an escrow account (919-733-2655).

2012 Census of Agriculture-County Highlights

Johnston County reported 1175 operation farms with over 50% reporting less than $10,000 in sales and approximately 20% reporting over $100,000 in sales. Johnston County was ranked 10th in the state in total agricultural products sold, reporting over $265 million in sales. Johnson County was ranked 1st in tobacco sales and 2nd in the tobacco acreage nationally. Johnston County ranked 2nd in the state in vegetable sales and acreage. We are also ranked 12th in swine sales, 13th in Grains and beans, fruits, nuts, and berries sales, and 14th in nursery, greenhouse, and sod sales and 18th in hay sales.

Of the 1175 farms, 548 farms were operated by full-time farmers and 627 were operated by part-time farmers. The average age of the farmer was 57.6.

USDA Local Foods Directory

USDA has developed a local food directory to help farmers who have a stand, store, or other direct-to-consumer retail outlet on the farm to be found more easily. USDA wants to raise awareness of this resource. Details can be found here:

For questions, people can call: 202.690.1327 or send an email to

Pesticide Container Rinse and Recycle Program

The pesticide container rinse and recycle program has expanded to two new locations, giving Johnston County more room to properly dispose of pesticide containers.

These sites are located at 820 Stewart Road in Four Oaks, 1096 Scout Road in the Bentonville area, 9349 NC Hwy 96 S in the Meadow area, 5677 US Hwy 301 in Kenly, 15031 Buffalo Road in Clayton, and at the Johnston County Landfill site on County Home Road in Smithfield.

Properly rinsed containers can be taken to these sites during normal operating hours. You do not need a county solid waste sticker to dispose of containers. Remember, to remove the label and lid, on buckets, remove the label and large lid, and on 35 and 55 gallon drums, drill holes in bottom and do not crush.


Disclaimer: Recommendations are included as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services does not imply endorsement by North Carolina State University nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.

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