Johnston County Ag Report

Johnston County Ag Report

September 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

Brandon Parker, Extension Agent – Horticulture

Bryant Spivey, County Extension Director

2015 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 2015 sale.  Jeff Morton and Brandon Parker, Extension Agents – Horticulture, select varieties that will perform best in Johnston County. The order form and sale flyer for the 2015 sale will be available October 1 at the office and on our Internet site. We will have apples, blueberries, figs, scuppernong and muscadine grapes, thornless blackberries, pears, persimmons, peaches, and pecans. Order forms and payment should be submitted to the Johnston County Extension Center no later than November 13, 2015.

4-H Merry Market December, 5th, 2015

We will be open Saturday December 5th 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



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Youth Livestock Festival Meal-November 20, 2015

The Johnston County Youth Livestock Festival Meal will be held November 20, 2015 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.

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.

Peak Season Soil Sampling

The peak season soil sample fee of $4.00 per sample will again go into effect on November 25th. Samples arriving on or after that date, until March 31st, 2016, will be subject to the fee. Naturally, it is advisable to try and complete soil sampling before that date.

There are two ways to pay peak season fees. One is to use the online entry system from the Agronomic Division home page, accessible from the NCDA&CS website and pay via Visa or Mastercard. Please remember that the Division does not store credit card information, so it must be entered with each batch of soil samples for which the peak-season fee is required.

The other is to set up an escrow account with the Division, via telephone, USPS, or in person, and deposit sufficient funds to cover anticipated late-arriving samples. All unused escrow funds are fully refundable. Escrow accounts are also useful in paying any of the Division’s lab fees, including plant, waste, and solution analysis, and nematode assays.

Samples arriving on or after November 25th are analyzed in the order received; this means that even with the fee, your samples may be behind those arriving prior to the fee period in processing time.

You should consider, however, that since the implementation of the fee, even samples arriving in February have usually moved through the lab in time to have results returned sometime in March. Whether you choose to have expedited shippers on hand is based on your needs, but I would suggest monitoring the lab’s turnaround time on the PALS website to determine the best time to use them. That would generally be at the point when wait time is longest and getting results returned is most critical to you or your clients.

Fall Armyworms-Sweetpotatoes

Since I have heard of growers seeing Fall Armyworm in sweet potatoes recently and asking questions about spraying, I have attached all registered products for sweetpotatoes on Armyworm.

 Product               OZ Per Acre             PHI                  REI

Coragen             3.5 to 5 fl oz.           1 day               4 hrs.

Intrepid             6 to 10 fl oz.             7 days             4 hrs.

Rimon               9 to 12 fl oz.               4 days           12 hrs.

Radiant             6 to 8 fl oz.               7 days             4 hrs.

 When making a choice of what to spray keep in mind the Pre Harvest Interval (PHI) getting this close to harvest season of early-planted potatoes. The threshold for Armyworm is 5 per row Ft.

Coragen, Intrepid and Rimon are all rated as (E) Excellent on Armyworm, while Radiant is rated at (G) Good in the NC Ag. Chemical manual.

Forestry Landowner Meeting –October 27, 2015

The NC Forest Service and NC Cooperative Extension would like to invite you a Forest Management Workshop that will be held on October 27, at the Johnston County Ag Center, 2736, NC 210 Hwy, Smithfield. The meeting will begin at 9:00 AM and end at 2:00 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.

Persons with disabilities and persons with limited English proficiency may request accommodations to participate by contacting Bryant Spivey, County Extension Director, at (919) 989-5380 or in person at the Johnston County Extension Center at least 5 days prior to the event.

Grain Sorghum and White Sugarcane Aphid

Since the white sugarcane has been identified in Johnston County, the likely hood that is in all sorghum fields at some level is probable.

At the stage we are at, I am attaching a threshold chart

Growth Stage Threshold
Pre-boot 20% infested plants with localized area of honeydew and established aphid colonies
Boot 20% infested plants with localized area of honeydew and established aphid colonies
Flowering-milk 30% infested plants with localized area of honeydew and established aphid colonies
Soft dough 30% infested plants with localized area of honeydew and established aphid colonies
Dough 30% infested plants with localized area of honeydew and established aphid colonies
Black layer Heavy honeydew and established aphid colonies in head (treat to avoid problems at harvest)

Why is this insect so bad?  Before sorghum heads it can kill or stunt plants, prevent heading, or reduce head size.  After sorghum heads up until harvest, it can prevent equipment from harvesting by plugging it with honeydew (from the aphids).  This insect breeds extremely rapidly.  Once you have the insect, it can blow up in a few days.  Weekly sampling intervals need to be shortened for proper management.

If you decide to spray:

Use an effective insecticide –

  • Transform WG (Dow AgroSciences) – Transform WG rates of 1.0 and 1.5 oz per acre are effective. Use the 1.5 oz rate if aphid populations are increasing rapidly. The label allows for 2 applications per season and not more than 3 oz per acre per crop and has a 14 day PHI.
  • Sivanto (Bayer Crop Protection) – Sivanto rates are 4 – 7 fl. oz per acre.  Sivanto is very effective at rates of 3, 5, and 7 fl. oz. per acre, so the 4 fl. oz. rate should be effective.  At the 4 oz rate it can be applied up to 7 times during the season but has a 21 day PHI.
  • Chlopyrifos (Lorsban Advanced, Nufos, other) – Lorsban is labeled at 1 to 2 pints per acre. The 2 pint rate has a 60 day harvest interval.  Data shows that the 2-pint/A rate was 80-90% effective but could not be used after the boot stage due the 60 day PHI. The 1-pint/A rate was not effective.

Do the stage of our sorghum, Transform and Sivanto are the only options and availability is limited.  Both of these products outperform Lorsban at 2 pints.

For Headworm,  Use products without pyrethroids, Try Blackhawk, Belt, Prevathon, or Lannate which are specific to caterpillars.

Good coverage is Key.

Kudzu Bug-Thresholds

Kudzu bugs have now invaded early-planted full-season soybeans across the state.  Remember that they are easy to kill, but once you put the insecticide out, you have the potential to have more insect problems throughout the season.  Insecticides that kill kudzu bugs also kill beneficial insects.

The preliminary NC threshold is 5 bugs per seedling, until plants are one foot tall.  Fields infested at these levels will likely be a rare situation.  Then, the threshold will change to 10 bugs per plant for plants from 1-2 feet tall.  The established threshold of one nymph per sweep (one swoosh of the net) should be used for plants above 2 feet tallPlants should be sampled at least 50 feet from the edge of the field.  The reason for this is that the adults have an extended migration period (6-8 weeks) and colonize field edges first.  If you sample the edges, chances are you will make a spray decision too soon before the migration is over.

Insecticide evaluations indicate that bifenthrin (e.g. Brigade), bifenthrin + chloronicotinoid combinations (e.g. Brigadier) and lambda-cyhalothrin + thiamethoxam (e.g. Endigo) are very active against kudzu bug on soybean. Because these chemistries are broad-spectrum, beneficial insects will likely be eliminated, putting fields at greater risk for mid- to late-season lepidopteran infestations, such as corn earworm, armyworm species, and soybean looper. Fields should be intensively scouted through R7 for this and all other pests. Kudzu bugs were found in most of North Carolina’s soybean-producing counties in 2013. For now, the most effective approach to managing this threat to profitable soybean production is to scout regularly, use recommended thresholds, and spray when needed with effective insecticides.

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.

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 2015-2016 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 2015.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

 Fall Armyworm in Forage Crops/Coastal 

Fall armyworms can cause major damage to forage crops from mid-summer until frost. Fall armyworms cannot survive even a mild NC winter. They typically overwinter along the Gulf Coast and we see moths arriving by mid-summer in NC. Moths typically lay eggs on structure (trees, buildings, fencelines, etc.) near a field of standing forage. When the caterpillars hatch out, they advance across the field, consuming leaves at an amazing rate. It is this “skirmish line” type of advance that gives them their name. They are capable of decimating an entire hayfield or pasture in a matter of days, so regular scouting from late summer to frost is needed to catch them before major damage is done.

Fall armyworms are quite distinctive. A large caterpillar can be an inch and a half long, green with a black stripe down either side. They have black dots on top of the abdominal sections, and a pale, inverted “Y” over their forehead. To scout for fall armyworms, look for damage, including leaves stripped from standing forage and sometimes even seedheads eaten. Damage may look similar to drought damage, as plants start to dehydrate due to the loss of leaves. In severe infestations, fall armyworms can be seen on the plants. One method of scouting is to “sweep” the forage with your hands, then look on the ground for worms that have been knocked off the plants. They typically curl up when they fall to the ground.

There are various control methods for fall armyworms. One option may be to graze or cut the forage to control the damage, as armyworms rarely feed on forage that has been cut. This is not always an option due to harvest timing or weather, so an insecticide may be needed. Following are some insecticide options for fall armyworms.
Dimilin 2L-For early instars (very immature armyworms) only, 2 oz per acre, No grazing restriction, 1 day hay restriction
Sevin XLR or SP-very effective on immature worms, with varying control of adults. 1-1.5 qt. per acre. 7 day grazing and hay restriction.
Lannate-a restricted use product, .5-1 pound per acre, much better control of adults, but very toxic and more expensive. 7 day grazing, 3 day hay restriction.
Tracer-1-2 oz per acre,  low risk product, graze after drying, 14 day hay restriction.
Entrust-.63-1.25 oz per acre, OMRI listed, graze after drying, 3 day hay restriction
Karate-2.56-a restricted use product, 3.84 oz. per acre, no grazing restriction, 7 day hay restriction
Mustang Max-a restricted use product, 2.8-4 oz. per acre, no grazing or hay restriction, 7 day straw or seed restriction.

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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