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December 22, 2005

Color Me Healthy wins national award

Color Me Healthy graphic

The "Color Me Healthy" nutrition program has received the 2005 Nemours Vision Award for Excellence in Child Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. The award was presented to Dr. Carolyn Dunn, nutrition specialist with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, and Cathy Thomas with the North Carolina Division of Public Health, co-authors of Color Me Healthy.

The Nemours Vision Award recognizes the work of one U.S. community organization or government agency from outside of Delaware that have developed visionary and effective programs for children and their families. Debbie Chang, Senior Vice President and Executive Director, Nemours Health and Prevention Services presented the award at an awards ceremony in Wilmington, Delaware on December 9, 2005. "Color Me Healthy" received a crystal statue and $5,000 to be used for the program in the coming year.

"Color Me Healthy" is a program developed to reach children ages four and five with fun, interactive learning opportunities on physical activity and healthy eating. It is stimulates all of the senses of young children: touch, smell, sight, sound, and, of course, taste. Through the use of color, music, and exploration of the senses, Color Me Healthy teaches children that healthy food and physical activity are fun.

To date, more than 6,000 North Carolina child care providers have been trained to use the program. "Color Me Healthy" is being used in 40 states across the nation.

Posted by Natalie at 08:37 AM

December 21, 2005

Given a chance to serve

Story on Karen McAdams, Orange-Durham livestock agent, from The Chapel Hill News. Read more

Posted by Natalie at 08:49 AM

Funds will help farmers with damage from 2004 hurricanes

Grants Are Part of the ‘Operation Brighter Day’ Relief Program
RALEIGH - Gov. Mike Easley announced Dec. 20 that the state has mailed $15.8 million in disaster-assistance grants to farmers who suffered crop losses in the hurricanes of 2004.

More than 1,300 checks were sent Dec. 20 for crop-disaster assistance under the Governor’s Operation Brighter Day hurricane recovery program. Today’s payment is the first phase in the distribution of more than $26.3 million in crop aid that is being made available to farmers.

"This aid will help our farmers offset the losses they suffered from the hurricanes," said Easley. "It is an important step in completing the recovery process."

Under the Hurricane Relief Act of 2005, the General Assembly appropriated $11.7 million for agriculture-related losses, including damaged farmland, farm structures, equipment, crops and commercial fishing and aquaculture operations. Fifty counties were eligible for assistance under the program. The bulk of that appropriation, $6.3 million, was designated for crop losses.

In October, Easley reallocated $20 million in Operation Brighter Day funds to address the crop losses suffered by producers of Christmas trees, nursery stock, sod and similar crops that were not covered by the original appropriation. Last spring, North Carolina Cooperative Extension staff across the state assisted Operation Brighter Day by accepting applications for this assistance from local farmers.

"The 2004 hurricane season dealt a huge blow to North Carolina farmers and their communities," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "This assistance will help them continue to recover from these devastating storms."

In addition to crop-loss assistance, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is continuing to issue checks to help farmers with the cost of removing debris from farmland, repairing fences and conservation structures, and restoring damaged farmland. To date, the department has distributed $975,000 of the $3.3 million allocated for this work and will continue to issue grants as it processes additional data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

The department also has distributed $1.3 million to help farmers repair or replace damaged farm structures and equipment, and more than $645,000 to assist with commercial fishing and aquaculture losses.

-Governor's Press Office news release

Posted by Natalie at 08:40 AM

December 20, 2005

Robert S. Boal, Extension economist, dies

Robert Stuart Boal of Wake Forest was born March 24, 1912 in West Elizabeth (Pittsburgh), PA and passed away peacefully at Duke Health Raleigh Hospital, Dec. 18. He graduated from Penn State in 1934 and earned his MS degree from West Virginia University. He retired from the N.C. State University Extension Economics Department in 1975.

Read more from the N&O

Posted by Natalie at 01:33 PM

Small-acreage farming conference is Jan. 21

A day-long conference for small-acreage farmers will be held Jan. 21 at North Carolina Cooperative Extension's Duplin County Center in Kenansville.

Titled "Putting Small Acreage to Work," the conference is sponsored by Cooperative Extension. Speakers will explore innovative marketing methods and new product alternatives designed to increase profitability on small-acreage farms. Evaluating markets, natural pork production, market development, culinary herb production and ethnic and niche markets will be among the topics covered. Farmers will also learn about growing and investing in other types of commodities, such as freshwater shrimp, heirloom vegetables, muscadine grapes and goats.

The conference will run from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a $45 per person registration fee, which includes lunch and an informational CD. To register, contact Ed Emory, director of Cooperative Extension programs in Duplin County, at 910.296.2143 or by email to ed_emory@ncsu.edu. Information is also available on line at http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/smallacreage.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 09:04 AM

December 19, 2005

Agritoursim association offers liability signs

The N.C. Agritourism Networking Association (NC ANA), a networking organization for North Carolina agritourism farmers and service providers, is organizing to plan, promote and deliver a statewide conference in November 2006. Membership dues will be used to plan and promote the 2006 conference. There will be two levels of dues: farmers and agritourism service providers, $25; Cooperative Extension agents, $15.

The NC ANA mission statement and goals can be accessed at www.ncagr.com/agritourism.

One benefit of membership is that the association will provide two liability signs free to agritourism farmer members of the organization who pay $25 dues. The signs are required for agritourism operators, including pick-your-own operators, to comply with a new state law that limits liability for agritourism operations that display proper signage. Farmers who do not join can buy the signs at $3 per sign plus $4 shipping.

The signs are made of a vinyl-type material that is resistant to weather and damage. Go to www.ncagr.com/agritourism to read the entire law, under “Limit Liability for Agritourism Farms.” The text for the sign is under the paragraph found in the text of the law under the heading “Warning.” At least two signs are required – at the entrance to the agritourism facility and at the site of activities.

Associate memberships are available to Extension agents, who can purchase one sign at cost plus shipping. Agents who are agritourism farmers may purchase three signs.

The NC ANA will provide signs to member farmers first, then non-member farmers. Service providers and Extension agents who join the ANA can indicate their desire for a sign on the membership application. Signs for service providers will not be filled until all agritourism farmers’ sign orders are filled. There will be an initial limit of two signs per order for farmers. For a newsletter with association applicaton, contact Martha Glass at 919.733.7139 or martha.glass@ncmail.net.

In addition, a brochure will soon be available with results from a recent statewide survey of nearly 400 agritourism operations. To receive a copy of the brochure, contact Martha Glass at 919.733.7139 or martha.glass@ncmail.net.

Posted by Natalie at 02:58 PM

December 16, 2005

Durham agent graduates from leadership program

Suzzette Shaw Goldmon

Suzzette Shaw Goldmon of Durham was among 32 university faculty members and administrators who recently graduated from BRIDGES, an intensive professional development program for women in higher education in North Carolina.

Goldmon is a family and consumer education agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Durham County Center.

BRIDGES, started in 1993, is a selective program designed to help faculty members in public and private universities and colleges gain or strengthen their academic leadership capabilities. It is sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Those chosen for the program take part in small group discussions, panel sessions, simulations, case studies and formal presentations held over four weekends. Sessions are guided by leading North Carolina university administrators.

Posted by deeshore at 02:44 PM

Extension greets Honduran students

Honduran students visit NC State (Art Latham photo)

For the third consecutive year, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has hosted senior students from the National Agricultural University of Honduras (Universidad Nacional de Agricultura or UNA) in Catacamas at agricultural sites in North Carolina.

In October, 35 Honduran agriculture students, including the university rector and several faculty, learned about our state’s agriculture from a variety of College-related sources.

After greetings by Dean Johnny Wynne and an on-campus orientation by Dr. Larry Nelson, assistant dean for international programs and International Programs Advisory Committee director, and Dr. George Naderman, associate Extension professor emeritus in soil science, the group visited the State Farmers’ Market hosted by Monica Wood, marketing specialist with the N.C .Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The next day, they discussed 4-H programs with Dr. Ed Maxa, associate professor and department Extension leader for 4-H youth and development, and Gina Garcia-Somuk, 4-H youth development Hispanic outreach director. Leadership development is of particular interest to the administration of UNA.

At the Lake Wheeler Road Field Lab, Mark Rice, assistant director, National Center for Manure and Animal Waste Management, hosted their visit to the Waste Management Center and Dennis DeLong, Extension aquaculture specialist, discussed operations at the Fish Farm. Nearby, they visited air quality research facilities.

Denise Finney, Paul Mueller and Jean-Marie Luginbuhl did the honors at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems near Goldsboro and Sam Uzzell, Cooperative Extension ag agent for Pitt County, showed them around the Davenport Farms with Charles Davenport being their host. These sites were the high-points of their North Carolina visit according to the UNA students.

The next day, the group visited NCDACS’s agronomic labs, ending the day with a joint meeting and a hot dog and hamburger cookout with Jefferson Scholars on the University Student Center patio. The Jefferson Scholars enjoyed practicing their Spanish with the guests (although most of them carried their dictionaries). The following day they took in the State Fair.

-A. Latham

Posted by Art at 02:30 PM

December 15, 2005

Posada event demonstrates Cooperative Extension's cross-cultural outreach

Photo of volunteers hanging a pinata
Volunteers tie a piñata to a stout rope before hoisting it to the cafeteria rafters. (Photos by Art Latham)

Although they’re a long way from their original homes, Hispanic/Latino workers and their families in remote Tyrrell County have felt welcome for several years, thanks to North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Since 1996, Dee Voliva Furlough, family and consumer sciences agent for N.C. Cooperative Extension in Tyrrell County, with a little help from the Latino community, has done her best to ensure that.

She’s seen results especially since 1999, when she helped form the 24-member Extension Hispanic/Latino advisory committee. Rosa Hernandez, now a year-round Columbia resident and a committee member, was especially helpful, Furlough said recently.

And since 2001, townspeople see a small part of those outreach efforts during the year’s-end holiday season, when Furlough helps her Latino clients reenact an historic Mexican cultural tradition.

La Posada (originally las posadas) is a procession – a large group of singers follows Mary and Joseph, who repeatedly are turned away from “inns” – in this case, local homes and businesses along Main Street -- until they finally find room; in this case, at Columbia High School. At each stop, enactors inside and outside the inn sing choruses to each other in Spanish and English, and children score treats that rival Halloween’s. The mile-long procession, which was featured in Coastwatch magazine, ends at the cafeteria with a fiesta of traditional food, upbeat music and games, complete with two piñatas.

Photo of children posing as Mary and Joseph at the inn
‘Mary’ and ‘Joseph’ are turned away yet again from an ‘unfriendly’ inn.

This year’s procession included more than 100 people, many of whom would no doubt later shop in Columbia’s business district’s stores. More than 200, most of them Latinos, attended the fiesta.

Rhett White, Columbia town manager, helped dish out tamales and other Latino food during the fiesta.

Said White: “Cooperative Extension has always played a strong role in Tyrell County’s community and governmental affairs, so their involvement with the Latino community is nothing new.

“But without the efforts of Dee and the Extension staff,” he said, “the posada wouldn’t be the important part it is of our holiday activities. Extension deserves credit for their outreach to the growing Hispanic community in this town and in the county.”

The posada is not the only Latino-oriented project Furlough and the Extension staff have undertaken, and their successes didn’t happen overnight.

Furlough had to patiently build up her contacts with the Latino community. First, she staged educational displays in Spanish on the apartment building grounds in Columbia where many Hispanic women live. The demonstrations included nutritious food samples and interpreters on hand to answer question on topics from health and nutrition, parenting and housing to stress management.

Photo of children hitting a pinata
Lupita Ramos helps a young would-be piñata-buster.

As Furlough met more Latino women, the demonstrations progressed into more specific educational outreach projects, including creation of an advisory council.

“Extension in Tyrrell County and the advisory council have worked over the years as advocates for and sources of research-based information for area Hispanics,” Furlough said. The council, under Extension’s auspices, has initiated programs and outreach efforts based on local Hispanic residents’ expressed needs.

These include:

(Through a Cooperative Extension community development grant)
·Free Spanish classes for Tyrrell County employees and others.
·Spanish/English medical dictionaries for the Columbia Medical Center, the local Health Department and ambulances
·Spanish/English dictionaries for local businesses and county offices
·Rosetta Stone software (which teaches both Spanish and English) for the public library
·Sewing machine repair for Hispanics (and others) to use these machines at the Family Resource Center
·Translation/interpretation services

(Through community donations)
·Personal hygiene kits for incoming Hispanic seafood workers (a few kits were bought and distributed before a Chowan Baptist Ladies Association donation)
·Donation of educational videos regarding domestic violence in the Hispanic culture to the local women's shelter
·Accoutrements for a county-wide forum on Hispanic affairs, with guest speaker Dr. Nolo Martinez, former Governor's Director of Hispanic/Latino Affairs
·Bienvenido – Welcome – to Tyrrell County event. Speakers from the Council, as well as other community spokespeople welcome new workers. Refreshments, displays and educational materials available with interests of the entire family. Participants receive Food Lion gift cards. This has been done for the past two years

Extension-provided services:

·Needs survey of the Hispanic community
·Beginner and Advanced ESL classes taught through Beaufort Community College at the library (initiated through Extension and the council)
·Twice-weekly exercise classes at the Extension Office
·Health education classes taught by the county health department and Chowan Hospital
·Distribution of a Spanish/English newsletter focusing on such topics as health, nutrition, parenting, financial management and more
·Drivers education classes taught by Beaufort Community College
·Availability of a variety of Extension pamphlets in Spanish
·Donation of Spanish books and magazine subscriptions to the public library, which granted the council space for Spanish language material.
·Spanish displays and information at various community and health fairs

“We look forward to continued outreach in this area, and welcome additional resources and services for Hispanics from other sources,” she said.

Are such cross-cultural communication efforts difficult?

“If it can be done here in Tyrrell County,” Furlough said, “it can be done anywhere.”

-A. Latham

Posted by Suzanne at 11:00 AM

Edwards will oversee volunteer education

Dr. Harriett Edwards has accepted the tenure track position of assistant professor and Extension specialist for 4-H continuing volunteer education in the Department of 4-H Youth Development at North Carolina State University./a>.

Edwards has held a number of positions in state government, including volunteer recognition coordinator for the Governor's Office; executive assistant to the secretary, N.C. Department of Economic and Community Development; director of visitor services, N.C. Division of Travel and Tourism; community planner, N.C. Housing Finance Agency.

From 1993-96, Edwards was an associate 4-H Extension agent in Granville County. She also has served as a 4-H Extension associate in the department. She holds a bachelor's degree from Campbell University, as well as a master's degree in public administration and a doctorate in training and development from N.C. State.

"Harriet has been a valued member of the North Carolina 4-H program for many years and we are excited about her continuing advancement," said Marshall Stewart, 4-H youth development program leader and department head. "We celebrate her accomplishment and wish her well in her new role."

Edwards can be reached at 919.515.9548 or harriett_edwards@ncsu.edu.

Posted by Natalie at 10:58 AM

Buhler’s pesticide record book is national model

What started out as an effort to help North Carolina pesticide applicators keep accurate records has turned into a national best seller. The 80-page record book, developed by a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences specialist, has been adopted as the standard by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wayne Buhler, horticulture specialist who helps coordinate pesticide training in this state, developed a record book several years ago to help pesticide applicators keep records that are required in the 1990 Farm Bill.

Under the Farm Bill, private applicators – growers who use restricted use pesticides to produce an agricultural commodity must keep records on pesticide use for two years. The rule applies to restricted-use pesticides, those that can be harmful or risky for applicators or can cause environmental damage if not applied properly.

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency requires pesticide applicators to maintain records, and post appropriate warnings to field workers, when pesticides are applied to crop fields. And that means another set of records for growers to track of.

The Pesticide Section within the Food and Drug Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is charged with enforcing the USDA regulations in North Carolina. Buhler, along with a broad network of North Carolina Cooperative Extension agents and colleagues within Pesticides Section, conduct training for the state’s 22,000 certified pesticide applicators. Part of the training involves how to meet the federal record keeping guidelines.

“Growers were aware of the regulations, but had no standard or reliable way to keep records,” he said

So Buhler worked with the Pesticide Section to develop an easy-to-use record book for North Carolina growers. The front of the book includes phone numbers for the National Poison Control Center, as well as other important contacts related to pesticides.

The record book Buhler developed includes forms that meet both the USDA and EPA record requirements for pesticide application. And it meets another grower requirement: It can be carried to the fields.

“We wanted something that would be versatile. We wanted to do it in a way that growers could take the record book to the fields,” Buhler said.

In North Carolina, pesticide education and NCDA&CS funds were used to print the record books. First 5,000 copies were printed in 1999; then 15,000 copies of the record book that were distributed free to growers. The project was so successful, that USDA began printing an adapted version of the record book in 2002. The first year, USDA printed 22,000 copies, then 25,000 copies, and in 2004, 70,000 copies of the record book were printed. Due to the high costs of printing, the record book is no longer printed, but is available to growers on the Web at http://www.ams.usda.gov/science/prb/Prbforms.htm.

In May, Buhler obtained a grant from the NCDA&CS Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund to print an additional 13,000 copies of the manual that will be distributed to North Carolina growers who participate in two-hour trainings this winter on record keeping and worker protection.

The project has been a truly joint effort between agencies that also blends education provided by North Carolina Cooperative Extension and regulation by the Pesticide Section, Buhler said. And it gives growers a tangible tool to avoid fines for poor record keeping -- a first offense can bring a fine of $650, and a second offense, $1,100. The record book can also help them keep an inventory of the pesticides they purchase and store, and help them look for application mistakes that can be the cause of a crop’s failure.

“By keeping records, farmers are being good environmental stewards,” Buhler said.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 10:55 AM

December 12, 2005

Federation honors administrators

During the annual Federation Forum held Dec. 9, the North Carolina Federation of Cooperative Extension Associations honored key college administrators for their roles in securing salary equity funds for extension faculty.

Extension Federation Honors Administrators

Pictured are (from left) Aggie Rogers, 2005 federation president; Dean Johnny Wynne, of N.C. State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Dr. Jon Ort, director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at N.C. State; Sheilda Sutton, executive assistant to Dr. Ray McKinnie, the administrator for the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University; Dr. Joe Zublena, associate director and director of county operations for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service; and Ray Harris, Carteret County's extension director, who made the presentation.

The federation meeting drew 57 representatives of five extension associations to the McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center in Sanford.

The morning session focused on Cooperative Extension updates with Ort, Zublena and Sutton addressing issues and concerns proposed by association members. Following their comments, Sutton and Dr. Karen DeBord, co-chairs for the Change Management and Marketing Initiative, gave an update on the progress of action teams that had recently submitted recommendations to Extension Administration. Plans are to present the recommendations at the district extension meetings scheduled around the state this spring.

During the afternoon session, Harris recognized Dean Johnny Wynne, Dr. Jon Ort, Dr. Joe Zublena and Dr. Ray McKinnie (represented by Sutton) for their support in securing salary equity funding for field faculty and campus specialist in the 2005-2006 state budget.

A proclamation expressing the Federation's gratitude and signed by all association presidents was read.

Speaking briefly about the challenges faced in securing the funds, Wynne said he felt strongly that the funding was needed and was made possible with the support of N.C. State University Chancellor James L. Oblinger, Extension's administration and the Extension advisory leadership system.

Oblinger was unable to attend the forum and will receive his proclamation later.

The meeting concluded with a brief business session and installation of new officer for 2006. They are:
President, Susan Condlin, Lee County
President-elect, to be filled by NCACES
Secretary, Pamela Brylowe, Jones County
Treasurer, Natalie Rountree, Hertford County
Webmaster, John Dorner, Henderson County
Past President, Aggie Rogers, Robeson County

Posted by deeshore at 08:26 AM

December 07, 2005

Extension helps with Eastern N.C. agri-cultural trail

Extension employees at dedication
Tom Glasgow, Craven County Extension director; Lin Nichols, Duplin County agri-cultural tourism secretary, Regenia Bell, family and consumer sciences agent, Carteret County; Bill Ellers, Pamlico County Extension director; Ed Emory, Duplin County Extension director, Ray Harris, Carteret County Extension director; and Barry Nash, N.C. State Seafood Lab and N.C. Sea Grant. (Art Latham photo)

North Carolina Cooperative Extension personnel and state Arts Council officials have introduced another in a growing number of Web sites in the HomegrownHandmade.com Agri-Cultural trails series.

These Web pages, part of a Golden LEAF-funded project to boost the rural economies of many formerly tobacco-dependent North Carolina counties, promote Internet-accessible, do-it-yourself car tour guides along once-anonymous country roads to ag and cultural sites, as well as helping farmers find new ways to market value-added agriculture-related products and services. The trails provide visitors with activities such as festivals, "pick your own" farms and art galleries, always combining the arts with agriculture.

The newest trail, unveiled in October at kickoff ceremonies before about 30 attendees at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, is called “Coastal Treasure Chest.” It includes possible tourist destinations in Pamlico, Craven and Carteret counties. Membership listings on the trail page are free if participants meet stated conditions.

Coastal Treasure Chest is the eighth in a series that eventually will encompass 77 of the state's 100 counties, says Ed Emory, Cooperative Extension director for Duplin County and a force behind the steadily growing agri-cultural tourism business in Eastern North Carolina.

“Similar trails are being developed in the Eastern Piedmont, along the Interstate 95 corridor and the ‘heartland’ areas,” says Emory.

Cooperative Extension has been instrumental in developing agricultural tourism in our state. Agri-cultural tourism, an aspect of heritage tourism, promotes preserving cultural, natural and historic uniqueness, protecting resources through stewardship and sustainable use and promoting North Carolina as a top tourist destination.

“The demand for programming and technical assistance for new and existing agricultural tourism enterprises has been overwhelming,” Emory says.

In addition to media and museum representatives, joining Emory were county Extension directors Bill Ellers, Pamlico; Tom Glasgow, Craven; and Ray Harris, Carteret. Also attending were Regenia Bell, family and consumer sciences agent, Carteret; Barry Nash, N.C. State Seafood Lab and N.C. Sea Grant; and Lin Nichols, agri-cultural tourism secretary, Duplin.

Also present were local historic attraction personnel, such as Patricia Suggs, Beaufort Historic Site executive director and several business owners who had just joined or were intending to sign on for the trail.

-A. Latham

Posted by Natalie at 02:12 PM

December 02, 2005

Christmas trees fresh, despite drought

photo of Fraser fir

North Carolina Christmas tree growers shipped a fresh crop of trees in 2005 despite a dry fall, said a tree expert at North Carolina State University.

The North Carolina mountains, where most of the state's trees are grown, were extremely dry from August until mid-November, says Jeff Owen, an area Christmas tree specialist with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. It had been expected that a tree moisture content survey conducted by N.C. State would indicate that trees were dryer this year than in 2004. But Owen said the survey of cut Fraser fir Christmas trees indicated more than 96 percent were fresh.

"This means families looking for the perfect North Carolina Fraser fir Christmas tree will have a wide selection of fresh, high-quality trees," Owen said.

Fresh Fraser fir Christmas trees have soft pliable branches and needles, and all the needles adhere to the stem when brushed. Fresh bark is smooth rather than wrinkled. A fresh tree will feel cool to the touch even on a warm day compared to a dry tree under the same conditions.

To preserve freshness in the home, Owen suggested that tree buyers always get their retailer to make a fresh cut off the bottom of the tree. This improves water uptake. Trees should be stored and displayed at home with the trunk in water, Owen added.

The freshness survey is one way the quality of this valuable crop is monitored. This year, foliage samples from 488 Christmas trees in storage yards were evaluated for moisture content. Foliage samples were collected the week before Thanksgiving as Christmas trees were being shipped from North Carolina farms. Moisture content is a measure of freshness and a cut tree's ability to rehydrate when displayed in water. Out of nearly 500 trees sampled, only two (0.4 percent) were dry and 16 (3.3 percent) somewhat dry.

Owen said growers did get rain before most trees were shipped, which benefited the entire crop. Yet trees stored before it rained contained almost as much water as those cut after the rain. In fact, the 2005 results are almost identical to survey results from 2004, a very wet harvest season.

Owen said the similarity between 2004 and 2005 survey data is a testament to the care North Carolina growers provide to a perishable crop of more than 4.5 million trees. During this year's dry harvest season, growers delayed cutting as long as possible. They managed cut trees more carefully to reduce exposure to sun and wind. Most growers cooled their trees off under natural shade or elaborate shade structures. Most irrigated their storage yards and trees to minimize moisture loss. Most North Carolina growers are going the extra mile to ensure fresh trees are shipped year after year regardless of the weather, Owen said.

Twenty-six Fraser fir growers in Avery, Alleghany, Ashe and Jackson counties participated in this year's survey, most of them for the third consecutive year. The Fraser fir freshness surveys conducted over the last three years have been a joint effort of College of Natural Resources faculty and county Cooperative Extension agents at N.C. State University and Fraser fir Christmas tree growers across the North Carolina mountains.

Along with the farm survey, retail Christmas tree lots in North Carolina and Florida are surveyed for freshness and care practices each year. It takes an industry-wide effort to ensure consumers have fresh, high quality trees from which to choose.

Posted by Natalie at 02:25 PM

New edition of CSREES Update available

The latest issue of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's CSREES Update includes links to a new avian influenza fact sheet, current requests for grant proposals, and more. Follow this link to read the issue.

Posted by deeshore at 01:01 PM