Johnston County Ag Report

Johnston County Ag Report

April 15, 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

Johnston County Ag-Business Tour-June 27, 2014

Johnston County Ag Center

2736 NC 210 Hwy Smithfield, NC, 27577


7:30 AM

7:45 AM


12 Davis Drive Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

(919) 549-8181

8:45 AM

10:30 AM

Granville Equipment Company

4602 A Watkins Road
Oxford, North Carolina 27565

1 (919) 693-7268

11:15 AM



Granville County Expo Center

4185 U.S. 15, NC 27565
(919) 693-5240

12:45 PM

1:45 PM

Evans Mactavish Agricraft

123 Ivy Ct, Wilson, NC 27893
(252) 243-4006

3:15 PM

4:45 PM

Johnston County Ag Center

2736 NC 210 Hwy Smithfield, NC, 27577


5:30 PM

 A light breakfast will be provided at the Johnston County Ag Center and lunch will be provided at the Granville County Expo Center.  One hour of pesticide credit will be offered in all categories except V. The fee for the tour will be $10.00 for members and guest, and $20.00 for non-members.  Fees include transportation, breakfast and lunch. Anyone interested should call Cooperative Extension Service at (919) 989-5380 by June 13, 2014.

 Tobacco Crop Updates-From Bryant Spivey

I realize that many of you may not consider yourselves to be technologically savvy.  Quite frankly, I consider myself to be somewhat challenged by technology.  However, on a cold snowy day this winter I created a Twitter account.  Using this medium I am posting very brief information 2-3 times per week that I find interesting about the tobacco crop and that is all.  Thus far, I have posted pictures of collar rot, pythium, rodent damage, bleach injury, ant damage, Rhizoctonia damping-off, slug damage, and more from local tobacco greenhouses. These posts never include any personal information about where the picture was taken. It is my intention to continue posting similar information throughout the production season to help others learn about what is going on with the tobacco crop.

How to follow with your phone: You can follow these posts using any cell phone if you choose.  You simply send a text message to 40404. The content of the message should be “follow @Tobaccodoc”.  After you do this, you will receive a text message every time that I post information.  If you decide that you no longer wish to follow, simply send 2 messages in a row to 40404 with the content “STOP”.  You will only be able to see posted pictures if you have web capability on your phone. Standard text message rates will apply, and on many phones this is free.  You can also follow by creating a Twitter account.  If you choose to follow by text, please let me know if possible.

Sometime in the future, I would like to know if this is useful or not. If farmers do not find it useful, then I will discontinue the use of this medium.

Email-I will also continue sending more detailed information by email as needed.

Private Applicators Recertification/Safety Classes

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service is inviting all private applicators whose license expires in 2014 to attend the last Private Applicator Pesticide Recertification/Safety class for 2014. This last two-hour class will be held on the following dates:

Thursday, September 11, 2014, beginning at 6:30-8:30 PM

The class 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.

Pesticide Exam Schedule-Johnston County

The North Carolina Pesticide exams will be offered on Wednesday, August 13th 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.

Johnston County Agribusiness Council Meeting-May 1st

The Johnston County Agri Business Council would like to invite you to attend our Agri-business council Meeting on May 1st.  The meeting will be held at the Johnston County Ag Center, 2736 NC 210 Hwy, Smithfield.  Our guest speaker will be Dan Bliley. Dan was with the Soil Conservation Service and worked on the soil survey for Johnston County.  Dan lives in the area and has a wealth of knowledge about our soil types.

Please RSVP for meeting by contacting the Cooperative Extension Service at 919-989-5380.  Your attendance and support of the Johnston County Agribusiness Council is greatly appreciated.   Hope to see you there.

Pesticide and Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Day- April 26, 2014

Need to clean out the barn, the chemical storage building, pantry, or underneath the sink. On April 26, 2014 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.

 Wheat Update

 Yesterday, April 14th, I walked several wheat fields.  I saw a few Cereal Leaf Beetles and some powdery Mildew starting to form at the base of plants.  With the heavy rain, I expect CLB to be knocked back.  With powdery mildew, check varieties for resistant.

To maintain this potential yield, upper wheat leaves (particularly the flag leaf – the top leaf) need to be healthy.  This includes minimal insect feeding and disease development.  Weekly scouting is suggested from the last week of March through the grain fill hard dough stage.

Cereal Leaf Beetles

Cereal leaf beetle larvae are leaf feeders.  Larvae are slug-like with yellow bodies.  Larvae  are typically covered with black mucus/fecal matter, giving them a shiny black wet appearance.  Larvae eat long strips of green tissue from between leaf veins and may skeletonize entire leaves.  Severely damaged fields appear white/frosted when lots of green tissue are lost from upper leaves.

The cereal leaf beetle threshold is 25 eggs and/or larvae per 100 tillers.  50% of the threshold should consist of larvae.  If threshold is met, low rates of several insecticides (such as Baythroid, Warrior, Karate Z and Mustang Max) will control this single generation pest.

 Fungal Diseases

 Fungal diseases include powdery mildew, leaf rust and stripe rust and conditions have been right for the development of these diseases.

Powdery mildew lesions are first noticeable as white, powdery spots on lower leaves and stems.  The disease may then progress up the plant.  Powdery mildew variety resistance is the most economical control measure.  Pay special attention to wheat fields planted to powdery mildew susceptible/moderately susceptible varieties.  A fungicide should be applied if powdery mildew reaches 5-10% coverage of the upper leaves.

Leaf rust lesions are small/circular/brown and individually spaced.  Stripe rust lesions are small/circular/yellow-orange and merge to form stripes.  Leaf rust/stripe rust variety resistance is the most economical control measure.  Pay special attention to wheat fields planted to leaf rust/stripe rust susceptible/moderately susceptible varieties.  If the variety is rated susceptible/moderately susceptible and 1-3% of the leaf area is covered with lesions, a fungicide should be applied.  If the variety is rated resistant or moderately resistant, it likely has adult-plant resistance meaning that although a few lesions will appear, it will not be profitable to apply a fungicide.

Alternatives to Fumigation

There really are no proven chemical alternatives to fumigation for management of root-knot nematode and Granville wilt in flue-cured tobacco.  If you look in the 2014 Flue-Cured Tobacco Guide, fumigants are the only chemicals that you will find listed for management of these pathogens.  On average, Granville wilt is our most costly disease of tobacco in Johnston County.  Root injury from tillage equipment and root-knot nematode gives an entry point for the bacteria that cause Granville wilt.  Keep in mind that a good crop of tobacco can be valued at over $6,000 per acre and you are well aware that the cost of producing a crop is also very expensive.  Your tobacco crop is worth an investment in protecting it from disease and nematodes.

The only way to convince me that fumigation is not necessary is with very good nematode sampling.  This means that samples must be collected in the fall before cold weather and must not represent more than about 4-5 acres.  In addition, I would need assurance that there was not Granville wilt present in the field the previous time that tobacco was planted.  We still have time to fumigate.  Be patient, and fumigate when conditions allow.

Tobacco Transplant Clipping

Clipping is an important practice that increases the number of usable tobacco transplants.  Clipping plants correctly improves uniformity.  Before clipping your transplants, perform simple maintenance to ensure proper mower operation.  Make sure the mower is not leaking any fluids.  Clean the mower well to prevent spreading any pathogens and sanitize the deck with a 50 percent bleach solution.  It is best to clean the mower between clippings and between houses.

Clipping should begin when the plants are 2 to 2 ½ inches above the tray.  The blade should be set at 1 to 1.5 inches above the bud.  Clipping too close to the bud will slow growth dramatically resulting in short transplants.  Dropped clippings allow pathogens to grow and spread to transplants, therefore, careful collection is essential.  Clippings should be dumped at least 100 yards away from the greenhouse to prevent disease.

As tobacco transplanting begins, many tobacco growers are considering what if anything should be added to the transplant water.  I will never forget a statement made by Dr. Bill Collins, Retired Tobacco Extension Specialist when he said, “The best thing to put in transplant water is water.”  Well, things do change and there are several labeled products today that provide measurable benefits when added to the transplant water.  However, the statement by Dr. Collins is a great reminder that there should be good reason for any product that is added to the transplant water.  The product must have greater potential benefit and any possible risk of stunting or other phytotoxic effects that it may cause.

Multiple Products in Transplant Water

Many growers are successfully applying insecticides in the transplant water to control aphids, flea beetles, wireworms, and other larvae that attack tobacco.  Examples include acephate, imidacloprid (Admire Pro and others), thiamethoxam (Platinum and others), and chlorantroniliprole (Coragen).  Others are interested in applying Ridomil Gold SL in the transplant water to help manage Black Shank, and still others would like to apply starter fertilizer to boost early season growth.  In addition to these options, there are producers that would like to and have successfully applied 3 or more of these options in the transplant water during 2011 and 2012 without any known issues or concerns.  The more products that are used, the greater the potential for phytotoxicity or mixing problems.

So, what if anything should you add to the transplant water?  First you must answer the question of what you are trying to achieve with the addition of these products.

Insecticides-Imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are effective tools for managing wireworm, flea beetles, and aphids and transplant water application is a labeled and effective application method.  One benefit of this method is a lower risk for stunting when compared to tray drench application.  However, the transplant water application may provide less suppression of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) than tray drench application because the plant must grow and absorb insecticide before the suppression is in effect.  NCSU research has shown that Coragen provides control of hornworms and budworms during the first 5-6 weeks after transplanting when applied in the transplant water.  Careful scouting to monitor pest levels is always important regardless of what products have been used.

Fungicides-NCSU research has also shown that 4 ounces of Ridomil Gold SL in the transplant water provides similar Black Shank control to 16 ounces applied at first cultivation in some locations.  This strategy offers potential savings and possibly improved uptake during the first 1-2 weeks after planting.  If there is a history of black shank in the field, a follow-up application mefenoxam between transplant and lay-by can provide further benefit.  If there is little history of Black Shank, a long rotation (4 or more years without tobacco), or highly resistant varieties are planted, then Ridomil will have limited value in the transplant water or otherwise.

Starter fertilizers can provide improved early season growth and earlier topping when compared to no starter.  However, research has shown that this earliness does not normally result in measurable increases in yield or quality.  Does this mean that starter fertilizers do not have a place? No, to the contrary a good crop start is always important no matter what crop you are trying to grow.  Good early season growth can facilitate improved cultivation and therefore better weed control.  The quicker that tobacco reaches topping, the sooner that it is safe from pests like aphids, budworms, and even reduces blue mold risk.  So, early growth is important.  When selecting a starter fertilizer, choose a product that provides the most nutrients (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) for your money.  Application rates should be based on providing approximately 5 pounds of phosphorus per acre.  The benefit of starter fertilizers in the transplant water will be even less when a complete fertilizer like 6-6-18 or 8-8-24 is used as the base fertilizer.  If 40 pounds of phosphorus is applied in the base fertilizer at or near transplanting, then it is really difficult to justify the extra expense, trouble, and potential risk associated with transplant water fertilizer.

Ultimately, every grower must decide what benefits are needed from transplant water treatments, and decide where to spend their money and effort for the maximum benefit.

Does Starter Fertilizer Result in More Black Shank?

The real short answer is, it can, but you need to know the rest of the story.  The attached document contains several graphs that show research on Black Shank conducted by NC State University.  Some of this work was conducted in Johnston County near Archer Lodge.  The Johnston County test was conducted in 2009, and the same field was previously planted in tobacco in 2007 with a 50% loss to black shank with NC 71.  Since NC 71 is a ph gene variety, we can assume that race 1 Black Shank was present, and is probably dominant in the field.  From the data, you will notice that varieties that are highly resistant to Black Shank like CC 35, K 346, and SP 236 performed very well without chemical treatments, while NC 196 had 31% Black Shank and K 326 had 46.5% when untreated.  The very next chart shows that Ridomil treatments performed very well and reduced disease significantly in NC 196 and K 326.  Note that the data were collected on October 1 and the tobacco held very well in the field.  Ridomil treatments on the highly resistant varieties (CC 35, SP 236, and K 346) were of limited value because these varieties just did not have much disease to begin with.

The final graph is from a test that was conducted at the Upper Coastal Plain Research Station near Rocky Mount in a very high pressure Black Shank field with continuous tobacco for many years.  This field is a Black Shank nursery for research on varieties and other aspects of disease management.  In research plots for disease management, we often plant tobacco in the very highest pressure disease situations with little to no rotation.  Remember, unlike tobacco growers, our goal is to have disease so that we can learn to manage it effectively.  If we plant tobacco, apply treatments, and have no disease, then we do not learn and our time is wasted.  So, this data represents a level of pressure that we never expect growers to see in Johnston County.

The data show that the tobacco receiving no starter fertilizer had 68% Black Shank on August 4 while the tobacco that received 10-34-0 in the transplant water had 83% disease.  When Ridomil and starter fertilizer was used together, disease was only 54%.  It would have been nice to see what Ridomil alone would have looked like but that data is not available.  So, why would starter fertilizer make Black Shank worse?  The reason has not been proven through research, but it is possible that this can be explained by the growth of a larger root system early in the season.  Typically varieties with a smaller root systems are more resistant to disease.  Obviously, a large healthy root system is very desirable when disease is not a problem.

So, should you use starter fertilizer, and should you use it in combination with Ridomil?  Black Shank is much less of a problem in Johnston County than is Granville Wilt.  The ratio of Granville Wilt problem fields to Black Shank fields is probably at least 10 to 1.  However, some farms and some fields can have severe Black Shank pressure.  If you are having difficulty managing Black Shank and you are using starter fertilizer, then you should consider discontinuing the use of the product.  If you have been using starter with good results and Black Shank is not a big concern, then there is really no reason to change.  You can even use Ridomil with the starter fertilizer and this will reduce your risk of disease as illustrated by the data.

Mixing and Application-When using any product in the transplant water uniform application is critical.  Mixing products in the nurse tank is advisable to avoid mistakes and concentration in the field.  Agitation is important to make sure that products are properly mixed and that they stay in suspension.  Application equipment should be calibrated to make sure that rates are accurate.  Pressure systems rather than gravity flow systems are preferred.

Disease Prevention in Tobacco Greenhouses

This is the time of the year when our greenhouse disease problems normally begin.  Monitor plants closely for disease symptoms and ventilate as much as possible to keep humidity as low as possible and prevent any disease development.  As clipping begins, do a thorough job of collecting clippings and dispose of clippings at least 100 yards away from the greenhouse. Sanitize mowers before and between clippings with a 50:50 bleach solution to kill any pathogens on the mower.

 2014 Wheat Contest

Anyone interested in entering the 2013/14 Wheat Yield contest should contact Tim Britton at the Cooperative Extension Office at 989-5380.  Remember that you must have three acres of contiguous wheat to enter the contest.

Troubleshooting Corn

 Corn is highly responsive to chemicals, fertilizers, and environmental conditions.  It grows rapidly, and the duration of reproductive growth is brief.  It follows that problems limiting the productivity of cornfields often arise suddenly and must be corrected quickly in time to preserve full yield potential.  It may not be possible to correct some problems during the crop year in which they are discovered.  It is imperative that such problems be accurately diagnosed in order to maintain the profitability of fields in subsequent years.

Poor corn growth is usually caused by environmental conditions or inadequate fertility programs.  Most situations must be remedied before the crop is 18 inches high. Anything that appears abnormal in a field should be quickly investigated and systematically diagnosed.  Diagnosing problems in cornfields is frequently a difficult task requiring objective thinking, considerable knowledge, and some experience.  However, a careful, logical approach to each situation coupled with soil, tissue, and nematode analyses will usually yield the reason for poor corn performance.

 High pH and Corn

Damage caused by manganese deficiency is rare in corn but does occur in North Carolina on soils extremely low in manganese. Damage is most often found where soil pH is excessively high as a result of improper liming or use of effluent as and irrigation source.  Symptoms appear first on the youngest leaves. The leaves become pale with interveinal chlorosis.  Stalks appear stunted as a result of shortened internodes. Preventive treatment should include placing 3 to 5 pounds of actual manganese per acre with an acid-forming fertilizer in a band near the corn row.  Preplant broadcast applications should range from 10 pounds of actual manganese per acre on mineral soils to 20 pounds per acre on organic soils.  Corrective action after emergence-generally the application of I to 2 pounds per acre of manganese sulfate-may also be necessary.

Soybean Planting and Variety selection

 As Johnston County farmers begin to plant soybeans this year, we know that we will have a lot of double crop acreage.  Keep in mind that if you had some micronutrient deficiencies in your wheat, you may also have similar problems in soybeans as similar soil pH’s are required for both crops.

 Manganese deficiencies can occur in fields with a pH higher than 6.2.  Manganese can be applied to the soil to prevent this deficiency in soybeans.  The recommended rates are 10 to 15 lbs/A or 4lbs/A within a band.  A foliar application of manganese (manganese sulfate) can be applied as a rescue treatment at a rate of 0.4-0.8lbs/A if needed later in the growing season.  High solubility manganese sources are more effective fertilizers.  Manganese Sulfate is approximately 20-27% active manganese/lb.  It is a highly soluble source of manganese.  It can be applied as a solid or in a liquid form.

 Nematode issues in certain fields will also require nematode resistant varieties.  If there is a concern about nematodes, a soil sample should be taken and sent the Nematode assay lab.  There are many group IV and V varieties to chose from if you are not double cropping and just as many group VI, VII, and VIII varieties for double cropped beans.

 North Carolina State University Official Variety Test books are available from the Extension Office and local seed dealers to assist growers in making variety selection decisions. Come by or call the Cooperative Extension Service at 989-5380 to obtain a copy of the “Cotton and Soybean Green Book”.

 Herbicide Resistance

As the 2014 growing season quickly progresses, the major concern again this year will be resistant weeds.  It is not to early to start planning your herbicide program.  Round-up Ready and more Liberty Link varieties are available this year.

 Choosing herbicides with different modes of action is extremely important.  This is not something new and has been stressed in production meetings since resistance was found in North Carolina.  Always use full-labeled rates of herbicides.  No cutting back to save money.  Where applicable use a pre-emergence with a contact, following all planting guidelines.  Try tank mixes with different MOA’s, use proper surfactants at labeled rates, and always read label for compatibility of different herbicides.  Make sure the spray volumes used will provide adequate coverage.

 Spring is a busy time and scouting is sometimes impossible to do.  However, most herbicides only work on weeds that are at or below a certain height.  In some cases, these weeds are shorter than the row crops they are growing in so a spray schedule may work better.  Remember, dry conditions may inhibit herbicide activity.  Surfactants and application timing can help increase that activity during dry weather.

 Good field history records can be a big help to growers, extension agents and extension specialist when planning or assisting with a resistance strategy. Glyphosate resistant Horseweed, Common ragweed, and Palmer Amaranth are becoming more prevalent in fields across Johnston County.  Remember, the best way to control resistant weeds is to keep them form coming up.

 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.

Beaver Management Assistance Program

 Johnston County participates in the beaver management and assistance program conducted by the USDA.  County, state, and federal monies provide the program designed to give individual technical assistance and advice to landowners with beaver problems.  Property inspection and consultation is free.  Consultation may include showing the landowner how to trap beavers and destroy dams.

For work that the USDA actually conducts, landowners will be charged a fee for each visit to the site and a set amount for each dam destroyed.  USDA will do all or part of the work.

Interested landowners should call or contact Tim Britton with the Johnston County Cooperative extension service at (919) 989-5380 or by email at

Disclaimer: The mention of companies, products or brand names in this publication does not imply endorsement by North Carolina State University nor does it discriminate against similar products and services not mentioned.

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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