Johnston County Ag Report

Johnston County Ag Report

April 8, 2016

Tim Britton

Dan Wells

Brandon Parker

Marshall Warren

Bryant Spivey

From: NC Cooperative Extension – Johnston County Center-919-989-5380

Private Applicators Recertification/Safety Classes (2 hours V)

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service is inviting all private applicators

whose license expires in 2016 to attend one of four Private Applicator Pesticide Recertification/Safety classes. The last two-hour classes will be held on the following dates:


                   Thursday, September 8, 2016 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.

Pesticide Exam Schedule-Johnston County

The North Carolina Pesticide exams will be offered on Wednesday, March 9th and Wednesday, August 10th 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.

 Pesticide and Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Day-April 30, 2016 Need to clean out the barn, the chemical storage building, pantry, or underneath the sink. On April 30, 2016, 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.

Protecting Pollinators

Garden pests create stress not only for the plants but also for the growers.  They eat leaves, transmit viruses, cause flowers not to open, and in some cases can even cause plants to die.  The first thing many gardeners do at the sign of pests is spray.  Often, this reaction to garden pests causes more harm to the delicate environment than the pests cause to the plants.

Pollinators, such as honeybees, depend on flowers for the food they need to live.  As reported by news media for several years now, the honeybee population is rapidly declining.  Therefore, it is safe to assume that if honeybees are dropping off in number, so are other pollinators like bumble bees, butterflies, bats, and beetles (just to name a few).  While few people are monitoring the levels of these other pollinators, scientists and beekeepers all over the world are monitoring the honeybees.

To save our pollinators, we must take some precautions before spraying pesticides.  First, make sure to correctly identify the problem.  Is the pest really affecting the plant, and if so, is it really a problem?  Some beneficial insects look just like pest insects.  Secondly, assess the damage.  Do the pests really need to be controlled?  Are they eating leaves on the plant, but leaving the fruit alone?  What amount of damage is the insect causing, and is it enough to justify spraying in order to control them?  Thirdly, determine if there are some cultural control options.  Cultural controls include using traps, beneficial insects, handpicking insects off of plants, etc.

If you have evaluated the situation and spraying is your only option for control, please think before you spray.  Many pesticides can be extremely toxic to honeybees and other pollinators.  Pollinators are attracted to flowering plants.  Try to avoid spraying plants when they are in bloom.  If pests are negatively affecting plants that are in bloom, then treat the plants with pesticide in the evening hours when the bees are less active.  This will minimize pesticide exposure to many of the beneficial pollinators.

Pesticide application depends on how the chemical was formulated.  Dusts and wettable powders leave a highly toxic residue – a residue that is toxic to pests and pollinators.  These types of chemical formulations don’t target specific pests; they are non-selective killers.  Solutions and granular pesticides usually aim to target specific pest insects and are less likely to harm the beneficial insects.

The 2016 North Carolina Agricultural Chemical Manual lists the relative pesticide toxicity in regards to honeybees.  (  When protecting plants from pests, consideration must be given to those insects, birds, and mammals that are providing pollination services.

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

Planting Guidelines

Cotton:  Soil temperature should be 65 degrees F (70 degrees would be better) by 10 AM at 3″ deep for planting cotton.

Corn:  Soil temperatures need to reach 55 degrees at a 2 inch depth.  Current temperatures are excellent for planting corn.  Just the fields where we plant most corn are excessively wet.  Dr. Ron Heiniger notes that he would plant corn until May 15 with full yield potential until then.

Grain Sorghum:  Soil temperatures need to reach 60 degrees at a 2 inch depth, but 65 degrees is much better.  Grain sorghum is slow growing early, but current conditions are good for planting.  Research has indicated that most consistent yields will come from May 5 – 15.

Soybeans:  Soil temperatures need to reach 60 degrees at a 2 inch depth to germinate.  A rule of thumb Dr. Dunphy recommends is you want your corn up and growing rapidly to plant soybeans.

These comments are meant to be used as a guide for the critical decisions of when and where to begin planting the 2016 crop.  Weather forecasts that are used are based on the WRAL 7 day forecast.  As with any forecasts, these are subject to errors and change.  Similarly, the comments included here provide no guarantee of successful stand establishment and are meant only as a guide.

 Carpenter Bees and their Control

With warming temperatures our hovering neighbor the “Carpenter Bee” is beginning to make an appearance. These busy bees can offer quite a nuisance for homeowners with their excessive buzzing and wood excavation.  Typically, carpenter bees do not cause serious structural damage to wood unless large numbers of bees are allowed to drill many tunnels over successive years. The bees often eliminate their wastes before entering the tunnel. Yellowish-brown staining from voided fecal matter may be visible on the wood beneath the hole as seen in the picture above. Woodpeckers may damage infested wood in search of bee larvae in the tunnels. In the case of thin wood, such as siding, this damage can be severe. Holes on exposed surfaces may lead to damage by wood-decaying fungi or attack by other insects, such as carpenter ants.

 Picture1 Although carpenter bees resemble bumble bees, the two can be readily distinguished from one another, as carpenter bees lack the yellowish hairs on their abdomens (which are black and shiny).  The male bees are easy to identify because they have white spots in the center of their head (between their eyes), and they are typically seen hovering around prime real estate watching for the girl bee of their dreams and chasing off rival males at the same time. Male bees do not sting but their aggressive behavior can be intimidating to those passing by.

After mating, the female bee goes hunting for a new place to build a nesting gallery.  Choice locations will be wooden porch rails and balusters, wooden planks and solid wood siding. This includes treated and resistant wood species. Females will excavate a nearly perfectly round hole and gallery that typically follows the grain of the wood.  Females then make a ball of pollen, stick it into the gallery and deposit an egg. She will then construct a partition of chewed wood debris and repeat this process until the gallery is furnished with multiple offspring.  At that point, the female dies and for most of the summer, no activity is seen. The offspring will then emerge in late summer and/or fall and hang around before finding a sheltered location to pass the winter (like an abandoned gallery).


When control is warranted, there are a couple of options. First, chasing the bees around the yard with a badminton racquet can offer some stress relief. However, long-term control is questionable. The second, slightly more effective option is treating individual excavated galleries with an insecticidal dust.


By treating individual galleries, you are far more likely to produce a lethal effect on these bees. Wide spread surface applications of insecticide provide little control and are often dangerous for both humans and other insects. A targeted approach will provide a slightly safer and satisfactory result. After applying an insecticidal dust to the individual gallery, following up by placing a small ball of tin foil into the hole and apply caulk. This will help seal the hole from moisture, and reduce overwintering sites for these insects.

Always remember when applying an insecticide to READ AND FOLLOW THE LABEL DIRECTIONS.  If you would like more information about Carpenter Bees you can visit the NC State Extension Insect Note at this address

Wheat Update

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.  Most of our wheat has just pollinated and seed formation has started.


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 is 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.

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.

Head Scab

As little as two or three days of light to moderate rainfall can favor infection. Optimum temperatures for infection are between 75°F and 85°F, but during prolonged periods of high humidity and moisture, infection will occur at lower temperatures. The initial infection on the wheat head may produce additional spores that can infect other wheat heads. This secondary infection can be especially problematic in uneven wheat stands with late flowering tillers.

Resistant Varieties:  Although no varieties are immune to head scab, some are more resistant than others.  Check the wheat variety guide as it has a column on scab resistance.

Chemical Control

There are several options when it comes to disease control on wheat. Triazoles are the best for controlling head scab as they can be safety applied at flowering.  Caramba, Proline 480, and Prosaro are rated as good in the 2015 NC Ag chemical manual for head scab.

Fungicides that contain an active ingredient in the “strobilurin” class should NEVER be applied when wheat is flowering as research has shown that strobilurin fungicides can actually increase DON levels in harvested grain.  Caution, it cannot cause head scab, but it can make it worse.

Strobilurin products are very good at controlling foliar diseases of wheat, and if used, should be applied earlier in the season, before wheat heads are fully erect and flowering begins.

Open flowering occurs shortly after head emergence (3-4 days).  Open flowering is characterized by extrusion of the anther (reproductive portion of the flower which produces pollen) from each floret on the head.  Wheat begins flowering in the middle of the plant and extends upward and downward over 7 days.  When you can see the yellow anthers, wheat is at Feeks 10.5 growth stage, which is flowering.

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.

Greenhouse Temperature Management

Early April has brought cooler temperatures which means less opportunity to ventilate tobacco greenhouses.  At the present time most of the tobacco greenhouses in Johnston County should be managed to provide a minimum temperature of 55 degrees Farenheit. I certainly realize that at times tobacco plants in the field experience temperatures below 55F.  However, temperatures below 55F at or near the time of planting can cause the plant to premature flower and/or produce more ground suckers.  Therefore, do not simply turn the heaters off just yet.  While the plants are still in the greenhouse, continue to manage thermostats for a minimum temperature of 55F.  A little fuel is cheaper than breaking ground suckers or dealing with early flowers.  On the top end I would just manage temperatures to keep plants growing to meet the time that you would like to transplant.  Temperatures above 85F are not necessary and may lead to tender transplants.  In short, ventilate as much as possible while maintaining a minimum temperature of 55F and getting plants ready on time.

Transplant Disease

Ventilation is extremely important especially during the later part of the season in the greenhouse.  As plants get larger, it is more difficult to keep the lower plant canopy dry and lower leaf decay can lead to difficult stem rot diseases like bacterial soft rot (Erwinia).  Keep in mind that no good chemical control for bacterial soft rot exists, therefore temperature, humidity, and nutrient management are the primary tools for preventing this disease.  If bacterial soft rot is present, treatment with agrimycin may provide some limited help, but ventilation and dry conditions are the key to management.

Black Shank Management

As a reminder there are several changes in the products that are available for black shank management in tobacco this year.  Presidio (fluopicolide) is a relatively new product from Valent that was labeled for tobacco in 2015.  The Presidio label has changed and the transplant water application has been removed from the label.  However, growers can still use Presidio for soil applications in the crop from first cultivation through lay-by for black shank.  Only two applications are allowed per season and sequential applications (back-to-back) are not permitted.

Additionally, Syngenta has labeled a new product Orondis Ridomil Gold for tobacco. This product will come in a single case with two parts. One component will contain a new active ingredient Oxathiapiprolin and the other component will be Ridomil Gold SL with the active ingredient Mefenoxam.  NCSU research with oxathiapiprolin has shown this new compound to be very effective at controlling black shank in flue-cured tobacco.  The labeling is a bit complex but it does allow for application in the transplant water.  Ridomil Gold SL has been labeled in this manner for several years and transplant water is good placement to protect plant roots early.

Each of the active ingredients in these three products represents a different mode of action.  So we now have three separate and distinct chemical tools for management of black shank in tobacco.

Blue Mold Update

Blue mold was identified in three tobacco greenhouses in South Georgia. However, our North Carolina experts have advised that preventative spraying for blue mold is not needed at this time.

If you feel the need to take preventative action, Quadris is labeled for control of Target Spot and does offer protection against Blue Mold (4 mL in 5 gallons of water per 1000 square feet). Producers should keep in mind that the 24(c) label for Quadris only allows for a single application of the material per greenhouse season. Therefore, if you decide to make an application now, you will have limited options until after transplanting has occurred. This is one of the main reasons why the wait-and-see approach is preferred at this point.

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional information as it becomes available.


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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