Good Growing Season for Central North Carolina


The 2017 growing season has been considered to be one of the best in recent memory.  NCDA Regional Agronomist, Don Nicholson recaps the season for us:

“Yeah, as a whole, I think was pretty successful,  had a really, really good corn crop in most places.  The only thing that really held a lot of folks back was stink bug injury, probably the biggest stink bug year that I’ve seen, in corn and a lot of other crop in addition to a lot of other things we grow in the central Coastal Plain, but a really successful corn crop overall.

“And of course, the only thing that really vexes farmers most of all is commodity prices right now.  But, a really successful corn crop.

“The tobacco crop was pretty good overall, had a few fits and starts at the beginning of the growing season with tomato spotted wilt virus, especially in the eastern counties, the early set tobacco was really hit hard with the tomato spotted wilt virus.  Overall, the crop had enough rain, close to a little too much rain, but a really good crop and it sold well after they got it off the ground.  The lower stalk tobacco had a little struggle with that.

“The peanut crop came out pretty good, I think it’s probably going to be 3,500 to 4,000 pounds to the acre, which is a good average to above average crop.  And the people that got it out in a timely fashion very little damage to the nut, so they graded very well.  Some of the later crop, actually a few left in the field, not too many, have been damaged by the cold weather that we’ve had.

“Soybeans, some folks are done, a lot of folks are still picking right now. Another good crop in places, weather and stink bug damage also, I think, took a toll on the soybean crop.  But, overall it’s going to be successful.

“In the end growers are still vexed by lower commodity prices, it would be nice if they were a little higher.”

A majority of commercial strawberries are in your area, and those little plants go into the ground in October.

“Right.  Got a good start this year, a little on the dry side early on, and now, too.  If it continues to be dry, if we don’t get any rain in the next couple of weeks, we may have to hook up the drip tape back up and probably drip some to the strawberries. 

“As far as I’ve seen thus far the strawberries are well established, rooting and looking good.  The warmer weather may get them a little too far a long, we like to see them at a size that you can still cover them with your hat in December, and we want some colder weather to make them go to sleep and wake up on time.  I tell growers all the time, if we could sell strawberry foliage on some of these varieties, you could make a mint, but that’s not what we’re after, we’re after strawberries. 

“But, it’s so dry right now, and we haven’t had a lot of rain, that underneath that black plastic, it’s getting awfully dry in places.”

Don Nicholson, Regional Agronomist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.