Johnston County Ag Report

Johnston County Ag Report

October 16, 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

 Forestry Landowner Meeting –October 22, 2014

The NC Forest Service and NC Cooperative Extension would like to invite you a Forest Management Workshop that will be held on October 22, at the Johnston County Livestock Arena, 520 County Home Road, Smithfield. The meeting will begin at 9:00 AM and end at 5:00 PM. There will be a sponsored lunch at 12:00. Topics will include Taxation updates, cost share assistance, CREP, pest control updates, Longleaf pine establishment, hardwood management, and the NC Tree Farm/Stewardship program.

Please RSVP for meeting by contacting the Cooperative Extension Service at 919-989-5380. Hope to see you there.

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 Update

 Seeing a few issues in the 2014 crop related to fertility, disease and nematodes. Soil sampling will be very important in the fall due to the rainfall over the past few months.


Galls–abnormal enlargements of the roots–are the characteristic symptom of root-knot nematodes. The size and shape of the galls vary with the soybean variety and with the number and species of nematodes. Generally, microscopic observation, bioassay, or both are needed to determine the species. Some clues, however, are useful in determining the dominant root-knot species present in the field. A high population following a corn crop is usually evidence that the southern or peanut root-knot nematode is present. If large numbers of root-knot nematodes are present following a peanut crop, they are probably northern or peanut root-knot nematodes.

Nematodes-Soybean Cyst

Females are visible on soybean roots three to six weeks after planting. To examine the roots for cyst nematodes, carefully dig plants from the edge of the affected area, gently tap the soil from the roots, and allow the roots to dry for a few minutes. A hand lens or magnifying glass (10X to 15X) is helpful in observing the females or cysts because they are small (less than 1 mm long). Races can be determined only with a bioassay.

Southern Stem Blight

The soil fungus, Sclerotium rolfsii causes southern blight and is present in nearly all North Carolina fields. Disease is most common in sandy soils, however. Plants suddenly wilt and die during hot, humid weather. Leaves remain attached to the dead stem. A white mat of fungal tissue may appear on soil and the base of the stem. Fungal structures called sclerotia frequently cover the fungal mat. Sclerotia are spherical, tan or brown in color, and about the size of a mustard seed. Diseased plants are usually scattered throughout a field, although it is common for the disease to spread from plant-to-plant within a row during hot, humid weather.

Management: Soybean is generally tolerant to this disease and economic losses are rare in North Carolina. Growers should check for other soil-related factors such as nematode infestation, fertility or pH-related problems if disease is severe. Rotations with non-hosts (corn or grain sorghum) and deep plowing to bury crop residue are reasonably effective tactics for managing this disease.

Low pH and potash

In general, most plants grow by absorbing nutrients from the soil. Their ability to do this depends on the nature of the soil. Depending on its location, a soil contains some combination of sand, silt, clay, and organic matter. The makeup of a soil (soil texture) and its acidity (pH) determine the extent to which nutrients are available to plants.

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.

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

October Peanut Disease Control

The peanut crop is entering the final stretch in the growing season with a crop that is looking good with excellent yield and quality potential. We have had excellent weather conditions for crop development which also means we have had excellent conditions for both foliar and soil borne diseases. It is critical to continue to maintain a good disease management program until digging to secure the full potential of this peanut crop. Leaf spot advisories have been very active so far this year. Late rains and heavy dews have meant that frequent sprays have been needed. To keep canopies in good shape through harvest, maintaining good leaf spot control in October is crucial.

Resources for Soybean Rust in 2014:

Some sources for more detailed information on Asiatic soybean rust are listed below:

The USDA soybean rust web site

 When deciding to spray a fungicide, consider these factors in decision making!

  1. When will the corn reach maturity – early maturing corn may escape infection and you might want to concentrate on the later maturing hybrids.
  2. Strobilurins provide excellent control of rust in general but their residual activity is short compared to the triazoles.  Additionally, Strobilurins have limited systemic movement in plants compared to triazoles such as Tilt, Folicur, Domark, Caramba, and Proline,  and are thus less forgiving of less than perfect application.
  3. Application costs may actually be greater than fungicide costs in many instances, so consider using the higher fungicide rate which will provide more residual protection and increase the likelihood that you can get by with one application.

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.

Cotton Defoliation

Field Readiness

Two techniques are suggested to determine defoliation field “readiness”.  Fields with 2-3 plants per row foot can be safely defoliated when the topmost 1st position harvestable boll is 4 nodes or less above the 1st position cracked boll.  A cracked boll is defined as a boll with some visible lint but not enough for spindle grab.  This “nodes above cracked boll” (NACB) technique considers the unopen portion of the crop and is based on the fact that a high percentage (85% or more) of late season bolls are set at the 1st position.  For fields with a significant percentage of harvestable late bolls (bolls present on vegetative branches or outer positions of fruiting branches), a NACB of 3 may be more appropriate.

Harvestable bolls that are not open can be cut to determine maturity.  Mature bolls are not damaged due to defoliation.  Mature bolls are defined as 1) hard bolls that are difficult to cut in cross section with a sharp knife, 2) bolls that string fiber when cut, and 3) when observing a boll cross section, the seed cavity is completely filled (there is no gel within the seed cavity).

Weather & Spray Coverage Important For Good Defoliation

Preferred defoliation weather conditions are sunny, warm, high humidity days.  If possible, apply defoliants when the expected average temperature will exceed 65 degrees F for at least 3 days following treatment.  Ideally, defoliants should be applied 10-14 days prior to anticipated harvest for optimum lint weight and quality.

Since defoliants are not translocated, good spray coverage is essential.  For ground applications, 15-20 gallons/acre of spray solution should be applied at 40 psi using solid cone or flat fan nozzles.

Boll Opener/Defoliation/Regrowth Prevention Products

There are many boll opener/defoliation/regrowth prevention brand products available.  In most cases, there is more than 1 product or combination of products that will achieve satisfactory results.  Focus on weather forecast, plant condition, harvest timing, and product(s) costs when selecting product(s).

Regrowth Prevention?

First defoliated cotton (defoliated now that will be picked first and in a timely manner) should not require a regrowth prevention product.  First defoliated cotton will likely require a boll opener to hasten unopen boll opening and defoliation.

Second defoliated cotton (defoliated in late September-early October) may require a regrowth prevention product.  Warm temperatures, good soil moisture, and remaining soil plant available nutrients will promote regrowth of cotton.  Remember cotton is a perennial plant.  Since harvest timing is less certain, regrowth prevention is more important.

Final defoliated cotton (defoliated around mid-October) should not require a regrowth prevention product.  Cotton defoliated around mid-October should be ready to harvest at the end of October.  Typically the end of October brings frost and cool temperatures, conditions that do not favor regrowth.

Please refer to the Harvest Aid Performance table in 2013 NCSU Cotton Information (Page 159) for product information.  Please call if you have questions.

Stink Bug Management in Cotton

Stink bugs are tearing through cotton that has bolls, although they are spotty in some areas. Both plant bugs and especially stink bugs and their damage vary widely across North Carolina, but are generally at much higher levels than we’ve seen during the past few years. They were also high in 2013.

Scout for stink bugs by splitting and examining the inside walls of 1-inch diameter bolls for warts and/or stained lint (any amount of even subtle injury is scored as a damaged boll). Be sure to observe the 10% injured boll threshold level during weeks 3 to 5 of the bloom period. Please download either the Android or iPhone Cotton Stink Bug Decision Aid App for additional information about stink bug scouting, identification, injury and other information. Search for “stink bug decision” in the iTunes app store or using Google play. You can also see an online version here

If present in moderate to high levels, stink bug injury can result in significant yield losses. In making spray/no-spray decisions, remember that the cost of the treatment and insecticide typically translates into the value of 10 to 12 pounds of lint. Insecticides targeted for stink bugs generally do a good job with plant bugs. Although Bidrin and Bidrin XP II offer excellent control of stink bugs and plant bugs, be aware of these products’ 6-day reentry interval.

Sweet Potatoes and Armyworm

One issue that we always have when we start digging sweetpotatoes is fall armyworm,

The time to scout for armyworm is now! Do to resistance and tolerance to pyrethroids, growers have been using products like Intrepid, Rimon, and Radiant which have 7-14 day pre-harvest intervals. Coragen is in the vegetable crop handbook and has a 1 day pre-harvest interval. Keep these intervals in mind when choosing an insecticide.

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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