Johnston County Ag Report

Johnston County Ag Report

November 11, 2014


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

2014 Fruit and Nut Tree Sale

Each year, staff and volunteers conduct the Johnston County Extension Center Fruit and Nut Tree Sale to raise funds to support the activities of the Johnston County Advisory Council and other worthwhile extension projects.

It is time now for the 2014 sale.  Shawn Banks and Amie Newsome, Extension Agents – Horticulture, select varieties that will perform best in Johnston County. The order form and sale flyer for the 2014 sale is attached to this message. If you need plants to grow apples, blueberries, figs, grapes, blackberries, pears, persimmons, peaches, and pecans. You can place your order now.  Order forms and payment should be submitted to the Johnston County Extension Center no later than November 14, 2014.

4-H Merry Market December, 6th, 2014
We will be open Saturday December 6th from 9:00 AM – 3:00PM.  This is an annual event benefiting Johnston County 4-H with your help.  The event will be held at the Johnston County Ag Center, 2736 NC 210 Hwy, Smithfield, NC, 27577




HOURLY DOOR PRIZES from VENDORS – 5-6 Drawn for every Hour!

Come Shop with over 30 vendors SO FAR- THERE ARE A FEW SPACES LEFT.

Johnston County Agribusiness banquet –December 11th

We would like to invite you to attend our Agri-business council banquet on December 11th, 2013 at 6:30 PM. The banquet will be held at the Johnston County Ag Center at 2736 NC 210 Hwy, Smithfield, NC, 27577. The speaker will be Chris Johnson, Economic Development Director for Johnston County. Your attendance and support of the Johnston County Agribusiness Council in greatly appreciated.   The cost for the banquet will be $10.00 per person. Also, be prepared to pay membership dues for 2014. Dues for 2015 are $10.00.   Please pre register by Wednesday, December 10th by calling the extension office at 989-5380.

 Tobacco Day-December 4, 2014-Johnston County Ag Center

Tobacco Day is an annual educational event offered by the faculty of North Carolina State University in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Growers, extension personnel, researchers, all agricultural industry personnel, media representatives, and all others interested in tobacco are invited to attend. Activities will include the latest information presented by NCSU Extension Tobacco Specialists from various departments in our college, pesticide and CCA credits, a flue-cured variety display, and tobacco great recognition. The meeting will be held at the Johnston County Ag Center on Thursday, December 4th.

Youth Livestock Festival Meal-November 21, 2014

 The Johnston County Youth Livestock Festival Meal will be held November 21, 2014 from 5-8 PM at the Johnston County Livestock Arena, 520 County Home Rd, Smithfield. This is an all-you-can eat buffet style meal featuring pork and beef barbecue, chicken pastry, chitterlings, baked sweet potatoes, hush puppies, collards and more. Musical entertainment will also be provided. Both eat in and take out will be available. Tickets are available from Johnston County Youth Livestock Program participants or may be purchased at the door. Tickets are $12. For questions contact the Johnston County Extension Office at (919) 989-5380.

 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.

 Grazing or feeding Late Planted Grain Sorghum

 A late planted milo (grain sorghum) crop that failed to produce a head can be used for livestock forage. Similarly, milo stalks can be grazed or baled after the grain is combined. It is important to note that sorghums contain cyanogenic glycosides which can cause paralysis or urinary disorders in horses. So horses should not  graze any species of sorghum. This is not a problem for ruminants.

The feed quality of milo fodder can be quite variable, so testing is recommended. Milo stalks baled after combining typically range from 4-7% Crude Protein and around 50-52% TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients) so they would likely require supplementation, especially for growing or lactating animals.

Prussic acid poisoning is a possibility with standing sorghum forage, particularly after a frost. Unlike nitrates, Prussic acid deteriorates with time. If forage containing high levels of Prussic acid is ensiled, it will usually be safe to feed within three weeks after silo fill. Hay that has dried down to 18% moisture or less will not contain toxic levels of Prussic acid. Standing plants killed by frost are usually safe to graze after about a week. However, in some instances only plants in certain portions of a field are initially killed, and subsequent frosts create danger spots in other areas. Grazing should be avoided when frost is possible, and for at least a week after the last green material is killed by frost. Never turn hungry cattle onto a potentially toxic field.

 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).

 Soybean Harvest

Extension crops experts encourage soybean growers to combine as early as possible to prevent yield losses due splitting, lodging or poor threshing of the plant. However, they caution, if soybeans are harvested at greater than 14 percent moisture, artificial drying is necessary. Growers should manage their options for storing higher-moisture soybeans according to the following recommendations.

Soybeans with greater than 14 percent moisture are likely to mold under warm conditions. However, if the storage temperature is kept below about 60 degrees, soybeans can usually be stored for at least six months at <14 percent moisture) without mold problems. For storage in temperatures higher than 60 degrees or for periods of time lasting longer than six months, the recommended moisture content is 11 percent. Soybeans harvested at 11 to 13 percent moisture can be placed directly into ordinary storage bins equipped with simple aeration systems.

In regard to harvest loss, soybeans that don’t make it inside the combine account for roughly 80 percent of harvest loss. To minimize this loss, it is essential to remember that ground speed, combine adjustments, and the location and speed of the pickup reel are important factors. These items should be checked periodically in the field and combine may need adjusting for the crop conditions. To estimate soybean harvest loss: Extension specialist suggest, check an area of 10 square feet. Approximately 40 soybeans lost in this area will add up to one bushel per acre. Make loss determinations at several locations and calculate an average.

 Wheat production

Wheat will be is short supply again this year. Hopefully, most of you have already ordered your wheat seed and have taken the time to pull soil samples.

 Before you decide whether to plant, take time to review your crop budget and know your expenses. The North Carolina State University budget for 2014-2015 projects total expenses between $250 and $300 per acre for wheat. I recommend that you take a look at the Small Grains Production Guide and follow Randy Weisz’s, small grain extension specialist, guidelines.

1. Pick high yielding varieties- Check the list of “Above Average Yielding” varieties in the table appropriate for our area. These would be good first choices for what to plant in 2013.

2. Minimize risk, maximize yield- Producers should plant at least three varieties. To avoid freeze damage, at least one of those should be late heading. Late heading varieties do well if they are the first ones you plant. Early heading varieties should be planted last.

3. Fine tune your selection- Once you have reviewed the variety performance data, you might also want to fine-tune your selection for specific pests for disease resistance. A resistant variety can reduce the likelihood for a fungicide application thereby reducing costs per acre.

4. Plant on time- Once you have picked your varieties, the optimum planting dates for wheat for most of Johnston County is Oct. 16 to Nov. 3. Seeding rates should be increased by 15 percent each week thereafter. When soil moisture levels are adequate, plant 1 to 1.5 inches deep.

5. Weed control- Italian Ryegrass is a main weed concern in wheat production. Control is much better when herbicides are applied to small ryegrass. Osprey and Axial are two good herbicides for Italian Ryegrass control, but remember to make applications timely.

6. Proper fertilization- Fertilize and lime according to soil test reports. Consider applying 15 to 30 pounds of nitrogen per acre at planting to help increase fall tillering.

Plant Timely

For upper half of Johnston County, wheat planting should begin October 20-25.  For lower half Johnston County, wheat planting should begin October 25-30.  A good rule of thumb for timely wheat is October 16-Nov. 2 for the whole county. The noted dates are early enough to insure warm weather to promote tillering.  The noted dates are late enough to avoid excessive growth and high risk to insects/diseases.  Plant early heading date varieties 2 weeks later than the dates noted.  If litter is preplant incorporated and used as the wheat fertilizer, plant 2 weeks later than the dates noted.

Calibrate Planters (Drills)

Proper seeding rate is important.  If planting on-time with 90% or better germination seed, the recommended target seeding rate is 1.3-1.5 million seeds per acre.  Note the chart below for additional information.

Million seeds per acre:      1.31           1.52
Seeds per square foot:       30              35

Seed size                     Pounds of seed
(seeds per pound)                    per acre
10,000                      131             152
11,000                      119              138
12,000                      109              127
12,500                      105              122
13,000                      101              117
14,000                       94               109
15,000                       87               101

Drill row spacing                        Seed
(inches)                     per drill-row foot
6                           15                  17
7                           18                  20
7.5                         19                  22
8                           20                  23

The above rates should be increased 20% for no-till plantings.  Increase the above rates 13% if using 80% germination seed.  Increase the above rates 4-5% for each week planting is delayed beyond the dates noted earlier in this email.

Planting Wheat After Sorghum

 If you plan to plant 2014-15 wheat on 2014 grain sorghum land, please read the following information sent by Dr. Randy Weisz, NCSU Extension Small Grain Specialist.  Please call if you would like to discuss this further.
Sorghum has a chemical in the soil that can hurt wheat.  Little is known about it, and tests have never been done in this part of the county. So, we have little data to go on. The problem is most severe in no-till wheat following sorghum. Some reports have shown up to a 25% yield reduction when no-till wheat follows sorghum. Some reports have shown less. Tillage helps. Yield reductions in tilled wheat following sorghum have ranged up to 10%.

Growers who want to plant wheat following sorghum should know that this might be a problem for them. Because very little research has been done in this area, it is difficult to make recommendations to assist folks who want to do this. But, here are several suggestions that may help.

1) Use glyphosate to kill the sorghum. If the sorghum is left alive and starts to regrow after harvest, the new roots will continue to exude the toxic compound.

2) Use tillage to incorporate sorghum residues and hasten their decomposition.

3) Delay wheat planting. This is tricky. Delaying wheat planting can in-and-of-itself reduce wheat yield, but it may also help to allow the toxic compounds to decompose.

4) Make sure the wheat is treated to high pre-plant fertility levels. Make sure pre-plant N, P, K, and S are at or above recommended levels.

5) If planting wheat after tillage check stand establishment and watch early tillering. The problems are most likely to show up early in the season and look like either a poor stand, or a good stand that starts to go backwards. Early N in February may help.

6) If planting wheat no-till, watch the wheat plants both early for stand establishment, tillering (and need for February N), and also in the spring!!! Research has shown that the problem may not start in no-till wheat until the spring when plants may begin to turn yellow and abort tillers.

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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