Friday, August 31, 2012

The McClures, Farmers' Federation, and Farming in Buncombe County

If you’re interested in a history of farm life in Buncombe County, the University of North Carolina at Asheville has a 90-minute audiocassette of an interview with James and Elspeth Clarke, Fairview, N.C. Elspeth (1923-2001) was the daughter of James G.K. McClure, who began the Farmers’ Federation Cooperative in 1920. James “Jamie” Clark (1917-1999) was associate editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times and served two terms in the North Carolina Legislature. The couple talks about life between the 1930s and 1995.

Here’s the UNC-Asheville’s summary of the information in the taped interview:
“Both James and Elspeth discuss the effects of the Depression on the area, especially the effect on agriculture. Elspeth describes her father's efforts to start a farmers' cooperative to create a better market for selling produce, and both she and James discuss their work with this cooperative. James discusses his terms of office on the Buncombe County Board of Education, and the NC State Legislature. They both discuss the McClure Foundation, which is designed to give funds to technical schools and students with ability who need financial assistance. They describe the changes that have occurred in the foundation over time, and discuss changes that they foresee in the future. They discuss the education and occupations of their eight children.”

“James came to Asheville in his teens during the Depression, and saw the effects on the economy of the area. Elspeth's parents came here on their honeymoon, and her mother was advised to move here after the Civil War because the growing season was better for farming. Her father worked on the farm and preached, and in 1920 began the Farmers' Federation. He had problems selling his produce, and got the idea of starting a cooperative in Fairview, NC. In 1921 he built warehouses and developed markets for farmers, who would sell to the warehouse and buy from the co-op. Both James and Elspeth have been active in this endeavor.

“For 8-10 years James was associate editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times. He was in the Pacific for two years, and was serving in Washington, DC, when he and Elspeth were married. He wanted to continue with the cooperative, so they returned. He also served eight years on the Buncombe County Board of Education, and was elected chairman. He served two terms in the NC Legislature, ran for the State Senate and then Congress. They have eight children and have been married for fifty years.”

For a detailed description of what’s on the tape, go to

Information in this blog concerning the Farmers Federation Cooperative can be found at 

The Federation merged with FCX in 1959.

You also might be interested in reading We Plow God’s Fields by John Curtis Ager, a biography of James G.K. McClure.

The family farm, Hickory Nut Gap Farm, is still in operation, still owned by McClures, and has a website. To read about the current operation and/or buy its products, see

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chatham County Poultry Council Formed, 1949

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Charlotte Observer Aug. 22, 1949

Chatham County farmers are developing a great poultry business. Their latest step towards such a goal is to organize the Chatham County Poultry Council. The council will help them build a better poultry industry and will aid them in meeting competition, as the farming industry gets ready for future days, when money may not be so plentiful.

F.C. Brown, assistant farm agent, says representatives of the entire poultry industry of the county has met twice to study the situation. At the last meeting a permanent organization was set up with B.E. Watson of Bear Creek, Route 1, representing the producers; J.B. Wood, president of the Siler City poultry dressing plant representing the processors; D.G. Hatley, Farmers Mutual at Siler City representing the feed dealers; C.L. Fore of the Siler City Mills representing the feed manufacturers; E.J. Dark of Darks Hatchery at Pittsboro representing the hatchery business; Wade Perry of Siler City, Route 1, representing turkey growers; G.F. Burns of Pittsboro, Route 2, representing those who produce hatching eggs, Bruce Day, Moncure, Route 1, representing those who produce commercial eggs for the general market; and Tracey Jones of Siler City representing the haulers.

The interest of the general public is protected by J.B. Snipes, who is a member at large. Mr. Snipes is the county farm agent of Chatham and a man who has pushed the development of the poultry industry from the very start.

The Council met the other day and elected C.L. Fore as president and presiding officer. Earl Dark was elected vice president, and D.G. Hatley was given the job as secretary and treasurer. The Council will meet on the second Thursday of each month, alternating between Siler City and Pittsboro.

The first of that the group has set out to do is to improve the quality of the broilers produced in the Chatham area. The members intend to start some careful breeding work and to give more attention to the quality of the hatching eggs and the resulting baby chicks. The Council decided that it would suggest to all members that they allow more space in their brooder houses to the broiler chicks, so as to reduce disease and permit the birds to have plenty of ventilation and growing space. Attention also is to be given to current marketing problems so that all phases of the poultry industry may profit. F.C. Brown was authorized to look into the matter of establishing a poultry auction in the county if that seems feasible. Reports of progress are to be made at the next meeting now scheduled to be held at the county courthouse in Pittsboro on the evening of September 8 at 8 o’clock.

Following that meeting, Chatham farmers will hold their second annual county-wide Jubilee meeting at Siler City on September 16. Last year, so many people attended this meeting that no one knows the actual number present. This year, the Chatham Farm Bureau, the Lions Clubs of Pittsboro, Siler City, and Goldston; the Rotary Club of Siler City; and the Chamber of Commerce and the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Siler City are all co-operating to work out plans for this jubilee gathering. The plan is to have a barbecue dinner in addition to a speaking program and other good things.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Farm Notes from Across the State, August 1956

“Around the State” by Frank Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, as published in Extension Farm-News, August, 1956

Carl Allison of Cherryfield community has his own unique way of determining when his hogs are tops for the market. Transylvania County Assistant Agent Robert L. Love explains that Allison has a board fence around his corn self-feeder with a whole large enough for the hogs to enter. When they get too big to get through the hole, they are at the right weight to bring top price, and off to market they go.

Preventing breakouts is the speciality of Lewis Gravely, Transylvania County jailer, according to Assistant Farm Agent G.H. Farley, but he ran into some pretty slick “prisoners” the other day on his Duan’s Rock farm. Gravely’s hogs kept escaping, despite a good woven wire fence around the place. Every lead turned into a dead end until finally Gravely discovered his hogs were going underground—through a tunnel six or eight feet long and about two feet beneath the surface. Water had opened the tunnel ad the hogs had enlarged it. They are now back in confinement.

Bermuda grass is spreading on the Honey Hill farm in Columbus County. But A.K. Pitzer, farm manager, isn’t worried. In fact, he’s helping it along. Assistant County Agent Victor H. Lytton says that Pitzer planted an acre of certified Coastal Bermuda on the farm last spring. During April, enough stollens were harvested to plant another three acres. Pitzer likes the stuff so well that he plans to plant at least 30 acres of pasture in this highly-productive grass.

L.W. Carter of Chadbourn, Route 2, has taken about all of the work out of feeding his dairy herd. Lytton says that this fall Carter built a trench-type silo from rough lumber and poles and the cows have free access to the silage. He uses two feed racks which are moved forward as the cows eat the silage. Carter doesn’t have to touch the feed.

Some folks must be born with a business head. Take Frank Morrison, 4-H’er of Maxton, Route 2, for instance. Robeson County Assistant Agent J.L. Rea Jr. says that the youngster secured the use of some land from his grandparents and promptly began planting 3,000 loblolly pine seedlings. Frank says he’s not only expecting to win prize money on his forestry, he’s thinking ahead to 20 years hence when those tiny seedlings will be timber.

“If I had to keep cattle without silage, I’d just quit.” That’s the way J. Ed Auton of Lenoir, Route 2, expresses his feelings about silage. Caldwell County Agent Max A Culp says that Auton dug two small trench silos in 1952. After three year’s experience feeding the silage to his small herd of six to eight cows and heifers, he finds an acre of corn made into silage means a lot of feed for his cattle.

Mrs. Zack Eller of Mars Hill figures that her chickens are just like anybody else—they get tired of the same old chow, too. Madison County Assistant Agent L.V. McMahan says that Mrs. Eller feeds her hens wet mash at around 10 a.m., and corn and oats later in the afternoon. And each time she visits her flock, she gathers the eggs to cut down on breakage. The hens are repaying her with around 80 per cent production.

John Hendricks of Shelby, Route 6, has an impatient Tamworth sow. But she makes up for it with her ingenuity. Cleveland County Assistant Agent John R. Faison says that Hendricks’ sow farrowed eight days early and before he had his farrowing house ready. So the sow just went ahead and prepared a comfortable bed of grass and clover, piling it a foot high. She farrowed 10 fine pigs.

Scott Elmore of the Saulston community, Wayne County, doesn’t like the idea of making the same mistakes over and over again. He thinks one way to cut down on this is to put the mistakes on paper. Assistant County Agent William S. Lamm says that Elmore feels that if a farmer records his mistakes, there’s a good chance he won’t make that error the next year. For example, Elmore planted his corn before the ground warmed up this year and doesn’t have a good stand. Next year, if he starts to plant too early, he has that record staring him in the face.

Thomas Smith learned the hard way that a person needs to know something of the produce he’s buying. Lamm says that young Smith bought the steer at a sale and planned to fatten it along with a steer he had raised at home. According to Thomas, the calf ate seven buckets of feed the first day. Then the calf stopped eating and has gained only 90 pounds while his home-grown calf has gained 200 pounds.

James M. McCraw of Mount Airy, Route 5, has found that it doesn’t pay to seed crops and then just forget them. Surry County Assistant Agent says that McCraw thought that all there was to growing alfalfa was mowing it three or four times a year. But McCraw admits that he also has to fertilize his alfalfa fields properly every year and spray for insect control to get maximum production.

Mr. and Mrs. Jonah Hodge of Wendell, Route 2, have found that a portable brooder house can be used for two good purposes on their farm—to brood chicks and to cure and store sweet potatoes. Wake County Assistant Negro Agent C.L. Boone says that last year the Hodges constructed a portable brooder house, but by the time they had it finished, it was too late for baby chicks. So they stored sweet potatoes in the house, and were able to eat good solid potatoes over a long period of time. They even sold a few to neighbors. Now the house is being used for its original purpose—to brood baby chicks.

Alonzo Reid of Elizabeth City, Route 1, has a big “mess of nothing” right now, as far as his woodland is concerned. It’s all grown up in scrub hardwood trees. But all is not lost. Pasquotank county Assistant Agent Walden M. Hern says that if Reid goes through with his intentions of seeding young pine trees, the land will be worth $700 to $800 per acre in 20 years. Reid, himself, says, “This will be my insurance policy 20 years from now.

Donald Gold of Shelby, Route 4, doesn’t mind going to a little trouble to make his chickens comfortable. Cleveland County Assistant Agent J.W. Hamby Jr. reports that Gold recently completed a new 30-by-200 foot laying house. Discussing the narrow construction, Gold says it involves some inconvenience in arranging the equipment, but the good ventilation afforded by the narrow house more than “off-sets the extra trouble.”

Many folks would probably like to have Ned Tucker’s chicken house to live in themselves. Haywood County Assistant J.R. Tippett says that Tucker has just finished his modern two-story broiler house which will hold 40,000 broilers. The building is of concrete block construction with ridge ventilation and windows on both sides. It’s equipped with a hot water heating system, too.

Earl Moose of Conover, Route 1, got quite a farming demonstration last year—even if it was by accident. Catawba County Assistant Agent Frank A. Harris says that Moose thought he had enough treated barley and oats to plant his crops last year but ran out of seed. He went back to the bin and used uncleaned, untreated seed to complete drilling. Moose says he has a 50 per cent better stand in the plot seeded with cleaned and treated seed.

Sentiment has a place even at cattle sales. Davidson County Assistant Agent W.W. Johnston says that J.L. Griggs of Lexington, Route 1, recently purchased a cow with twin heifer calves but only after outbidding another determined buyer. Griggs wanted the calves to present to his twin sons, Lynn and Glenn, for their 4-H projects. What Griggs didn’t know was that the man running u the price on him wanted the heifers for his twin daughters.

Armon Hunt of Danton, Route 2, says he would have been as well off if he had pinched off the heads of 50 Yorkshire shoats when they were born. Davidson County Agent C.E. Barnhardt says that Hunt recently sold the shoats for a total of $1,435.50. He added up his feed bills and found it came to $1,400. However, Hunt admits he would probably have done better if he had grown all of his own feed.

Being a little skeptical can be a valuable trait. Just ask H.M. Watson of the Leasburg community in Caswell County. County Agent K.V. Perkins says that Watson had several timber buyers give him an estimate on some mature pines. Not satisfied with the estimates, he asked for help from the Extension Service. He got $500 more for his pines as a result.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rutherford County Farmers, August 1948

From the Editorial Page of the Rutherfordton News, August 26, 1948

Our good friend F.H. Jeter of the N.C. Agricultural Extension Service, Raleigh, in Monday’s Charlotte Observer on its weekly Farm Page gave Rutherford County a good boost for which we appreciate very much…. He wrote in part:

“One of North Carolina’s good farming counties is Rutherford. It is located in the southwestern part of the Piedmont section…. Rutherford is a county of small farms. It has many small industrial plants and some large ones scattered widely over area and many of the folks, perhaps someone in almost every farm family, work part time in one of these manufacturing plants. This is the way in which many of the people have come to town to own farms of their own or to have extra cash above the good living which their farm lands provide….

Rutherford was formed back in 1779 from parts of Burke and Tryon counties. It was named for General Griffith Rutherford and its agriculture, for the most part, is the same as for Cleveland except that the people pay more attrition to fruits, small fruits, berries, gardens and such crops as are adapted to smaller farms. It is a good cotton county and is fast becoming part of the great Spartanburg peach growing area. There is much fertile bottom land all along the lower reaches of the numerous streams and these lands produce excellent crops of grains, cotton and grazing crops. The whole county is favorable to the production of sweet potatoes. In fact, Rutherford is noted for the excellence of its sugar spuds and for its apples, peaches, cherries, melons and grapes. It’s a good county.

H.R. Niswonger, extension horticulturist, says Rutherford County farmers should specialize in growing fruits and berries. The market now is almost unlimited and strawberry growers can clear from $600 to $1,000 an acre where the crop is properly handled. The prevalence of freezer lockers and the fine markets provided by the many nearby textile plants offer an excellent outlet for all the berries that can be produced. Gordon McDaniel, who lives in the Bills Creek community, planted one-half an acre of strawberries two years ago and sold over $300 worth of the delicious fruit from the half-acre tract. He says he can make more money, net, from strawberries than anything he has tried so far. The secret of making money from strawberries, however, is first to get a good variety; keep down competition from grass and weeds; and then fertilize early each fall. This provides a strong, healthy crop of plants which produce well in the early spring. But F.E. Patton, Rutherford farm agent, says that the peach crop of Rutherford has come to be very important and is expanding as a farm enterprise each succeeding year. 

The growers had hard luck this year, as did almost everyone who grows peaches in the foothill region. In fact, Rutherford growers harvested only about 20 per cent of a normal crop. Even so, some of them whose orchards had better air drainage secured about 70 per cent of a full crop and really made money. The best crops harvested this season were produced by Lloyd Godfrey, B.H. Champion, Fred D. Hamrick, the Robbins orchard, and others in that community. In 1947, the growers of Rutherford shipped over 100 cars of ripe peaches in addition to the great quantity sold locally and through truckers. This year, only about 25 cars were moved.

The folks in Rutherford County really give attrition to sweet potato growing. In fact, a club boy of the county, Bobby Clement of Green Hill, not only won the county prize of $25 last year but went  on to become district winner for the entire southeastern section of the state. For this he received a second $25 in cash. His production was 159 bushels of fine sweets on one-half acre of land. Dorothy Robinson of the same Green Hill section won second county prize of $15 for the production of 112 bushels on one-half acre. The next high club boy was Earl Wilson of the Lake Lure community, who produced 81 bushels on his half-acre to get a $10 prize.

The sweet potato growers of Rutherford prefer the Louisiana strain of Porto Ricos. They have some good foundation seed and they produce a crop that is almost dripping with sugary juice. Dr. Ben Washburn, who owns the Cleghorn farm, is specializing in producing certified seed of this copper-colored strain of sweet potatoes. This past year, he grew some of the cleanest and best seed to be found in the state. Dr. Washburn uses good seed; he rotates his crop; fertilizes well; and follows the best methods of cultivation. He has the only curing house in Rutherford County operated with electric current and says that this method not only saves time and labor but that the cost is reasonable and that it is easy to keep the curing house at an even temperature both during the curing period of fall as well as during the follow-up storage period of winter.

The cotton growers of the county used 10,000 pounds of new Coker Wilt seed, directly from the breeder this year. This cotton is being grown by 37 men who are increasing it and will keep the seed pure so that other growers may have the same good seed available next year. The boll weevil has not done so much damage in the county this year. Last season, the growers lost several thousand dollars because of the attacks by the pest, but Jack Camp of Union township used Benzene Hexachloride at a cost of about $5 an acre and harvested a bale of lint per acre while his neighbors got only about a bale from every four acres.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Carteret and Halifax Farmers, 1949

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, as published in the Wilmington Star on Aug. 4, 1949

Growers of the famous Bogue Sound watermelons, along the shores of eastern Carolina, figure they will not be able to market over 50 per cent of a crop this season. Alvin Taylor, one of the largest growers along the sound in Carteret County, said the vines could not set a normal crop of melons due to the continual rains. But the quality of the melons produced is satisfactory and prices have been good. There are no better watermelons than those grown along Bogue Sound.

Final information about those new varieties of early cabbage, the Round Heads Nos. 1 and 2, has been handed in to Farm Agent R.M. Williams by Roland Salter, one of the farmers testing the new cabbage varieties this season. Mr. Salter found that while the new varieties produced about 25 greater tonnage per acre than did the old favorite, the early Jersey Wakefield, the two varieties were too brittle for extended use as a commercial crop. Round Head No. 2 made a slightly larger head than Round Head No. 1, but was a little more brittle. Both kinds did not bolt as much as the Jersey Wakefield and they were about one week earlier in maturity. Mr. Salter also found that his own Round Dutch variety compared favorably with the two new varieties as regards bolting, but his variety was about 15 days later in maturing for market.

A.L. Garner of Roanoke Rapids, Route 1, is conducting a demonstration of the value of mechanized farming this year. He and his three sons have used three tractors to cultivate 311 acres of cropland this season. There is not a mule on the place and the four men are growing 75 acres of corn, 44 acres of cotton, 100 acres of peanuts, and 90 acres of soybeans. In spite of the frequent rains and the late start of this spring, their crops are in perfect condition. The entire acreage was planted and cultivated with tractors and the cultivation has been so very good that very little hoe work was needed. This is their third season with tractors, and they say that they are thoroughly sold. Perhaps when they get a sizz-weeder to kill the grass, they will need no hoe work at all.

W.O. Davis, farm agent I Halifax, announces that he has just secured a new assistant, Walter P. Farrior, who was employed by the county commissioners in June and will devote his entire time to promoting livestock in that crop county. The folks up there say the time is coming and they can see it in the distance, when they must quit so row crop or cash crop farming and got to sods, hay crops, and pastures. This means that they plan to grow hogs, beef cattle, poultry, and dairy cows. A new milk processing plant has been established at Roanoke Rapids and this offers a market for all the fluid milk which can be produced. Therefore, old Halifax with its hundreds of years of crop growing history, plantation style, behind it, looks ahead to a new kind of farming to balance the old and in which the owners will not depend so much possibly on share croppers as they have in the past.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Farmers With Electricity Celebrate at Picnic, 1949

From Duke Power Magazine, 1949

Some 700 farmers of Duke Power Company farms in Iredell, Catawba, and Lincoln counties and their families and friends at a picnic on the old Ramsey place near Mooresville were recently told some of the things they have to be proud of and some of the things they have to accomplish in the years ahead as part of the agricultural advance of North Carolina by Dr. Frank H. Jeter, Extension Farm Editor, of the N.C. Extension Service at Raleigh.

Dr. Jeter challenged his hearers to set new goals of achievement and to use the aids of science and research in reaching them.

“The man with the book in his hand has the advantage nine times out of ten, whether in farming or business,” said Dr. Jeter.

Appearing on the picnic program of August 18 with Dr. Jeter were M.T. Geddings, agricultural engineer, who described the scope of the work of the Duke Power Company rural service department, Graham Morrison, the "Will Rogers of Lincoln County” and the popular county farm agent, and Grady Cole, farm commentator of radio station WBT, who spoke briefly. John Paul Lucus, head of the company’s public relations office, was master of ceremonies.

Other guests at the picnic given by the farmers included in addition to a number of members of the general office of the Duke Power Company, Highway Commissioner Joe Graham, Iredell County Farm Agent Roger Murdock, Catawba County Agent Jesse Giles, and other farm and soil conservation specialists.
The afternoon was given over to a ball game and other entertainment features, with music by the Southern Serenaders.

R.E. Rhyne arranged the program and had general supervision of this year’s event. Carl Blades, head of the division, expressed pleasure over the success of the picnic.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Albemarle Country Adapts to War, 1944

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, as published in the Wilmington Star on Aug. 14, 1944

MANTEO, Aug. 13—Dare County is not the hustling, busy place it was during pre-war, pageant days when visitors from all parts of North Carolina and the nation came to see how our forefathers struggled to set up this Republic.

The small shipyard here in Manteo is closed temporarily and only the Naval Air Base on the upper part of Roanoke Island offers extra employment. It is true that fishing restrictions have been removed and quite a large tonnage of fresh fish leaves here each night for inland markets.

But it has been terribly dry on Roanoke Island this year. County Agent W.H. Shearin and Home Agent Sadie Hendley started very bravely this past spring to have gardens in all parts of the county. The civic clubs and county commissioners offered prizes for the best gardens and, for a while, it appeared that Roanoke Island would be one vast vegetable garden from which food could be gathered for consumption and for canning. But the promise of spring was blighted by the continuous dry weather and now the Islanders are planning for fall gardens.

It has been dry all over the Albemarle country this season. I traveled one whole day over the Currituck peninsula visiting the poultry flocks that feed fresh eggs into the nearby Norfolk market, and the soy bean and corn fields. Farmers said that their crops have made a great comeback since the July rains and that young corn will yield heavily.

The soybean and peanut fields also look promising, but the watermelon crop was hurt badly as was the production of early Irish potatoes. The potato crop was cut in half by low yield and small size of the tubers but sold well In fact, many growers told me that they sold out so completely that they left none at home for their own use.

Now they are getting busy preparing to grow a fall crop. The growers also had less trouble with labor than in 1943. Neighbor helped neighbor and with the aid of transients who were housed in a conveniently located camp, the labor situation was well handled. All the crops appear to be well cultivated and free from weeds and grass. As elsewhere over North Carolina, Currituck farmers are seeding more pastures and growing more feed for livestock and poultry.

This growing of green feed is an absolute necessity, the farmers say. Poultry growers said that the commercial feed which they are able to buy now does not contain the vital elements so badly needed by hens in heavy production, and that if some grazing crop is not provided, the hens “break down” and fall off in egg production.

As a matter of fact, most poultrymen in this Albemarle country are planning to hold their flocks at the present level if possible, without trying to increase. This actually is amounting to a decrease because of the necessity for constant culling.

Currituck growers also are solving the problem of storm damage to their poultry houses by building rather low-lying houses, wider than those ordinarily build where ocean winds do not blow, instead of nailing down the roofs to these buildings, they glue them tightly with tar and as old roofs wear out, new ones are added until the building is snug and warm under successive layers.

Poultry houses must be well-ventilated in this country or the steady heat of the sun will heat the houses to such an extent that egg production almost ceases. Currituck growers have worked out building plans that seem to fit this locality and, as a result, their flocks are unusually profitable.

Right now, Currituck landowners along with those in Pasquotank, Chowan, Perquimans, and Camden counties are working together to establish a Soil Conservation District. The growers are not concerned about soil erosion but they do need soil drainage.

Back in WPA days, the growers succeeded in having much work done in cleaning out and digging drainage ditches. “We were greatly benefitted by this work despite what some may say about the WPA,” said County Agent Powell. “We had some ditches cleaned out that had not been touched since the slaves of old-time plantation owners had dug them. We also had some new drainage ditches dug and many of our fields became fertile again. We want to continue this work in our Soil Conservation District because the well-drained soil responds to limestone and fertilizer.”

Powell is proving this theory of the value of drainage, limestone, and phosphate on some of the islands of Currituck Sound. Many of these small islands are owned by wealthy persons or groups who maintain gun clubs on them.

The Bells Island *Club is a good example. Here the original members of the club have all been “bought out” by one man who is maintaining a year-round place of residence. Not only is the place beautified to satisfy the owner but it has been made a concrete demonstration in the production of beef cattle.

Powell has cooperated with the superintendent to seed several acres of a permanent pasture that now maintains a herd of Aberdeen-Angus breeding animals. The offspring of about 20 brood cows are sold locally at nominal prices and is helping to start a new farm industry in this section.

All in all, the Albemarle people are up and coming. It has been dry here, terribly dry, but as these folks say, “More farmers have been ruined by too much rain than by too little.” Crops look good now and the winter will not be so hard after all.
*The Virginian-Pilot has an interesting article about the history of Bell’s Island, named for Currituck farmer William Bell, online at

Friday, August 24, 2012

Petunias Keep Tobacco Worms Off Crop, 1949

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, as published in the Wilmington Star on Aug. 4, 1949

Wayne K. Moore of Bushy Fork, Person County, found out something new this year. Mr. Moore had heard that tobacco flies like petunias. So he planted a bed of these flowers about his farm home.

He took care of the petunias, and they grew luxuriantly. Each evening, just before sundown, the moths which lay the eggs hatching into tobacco horn worms would swarm over the petunias and from three to six times a week, he and the children would catch the flies or moths as they gathered the nectar from the flowers. By following this plan, he said he had few horn worms on his tobacco this season, and he believes that if all growers in a community were to follow the plan, it would not be necessary to use so much arsenate of lead and other chemicals in protecting the tobacco crop from worms.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Fun Time at Ocean View"

“Fun Time at Ocean View” by Hilda Goodwin as published in Special Memories: A collection of stories by Chowan County Extension Homemakers

As a child, I grew up taught to work each day on the farm in the summer. We chopped and helped pick May peas, snapbeans, butterbeans, cornfield peas, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes as well as put in tobacco.

About the middle of August all of our work was finished since we would soon be back in school. A day was set for all 12 families of the Evans family to take our annual vacation.

A caravan of cars traveled to City Park in Norfolk for a picnic dinner and tour of the zoo. Then we all went to Ocean View Amusement Park for the rest of the day. We had lots of fun with all our cousins going through fun houses, riding rids, bumper cars, as well as the old mill stream. We used some of the money we made working on the farm to have fun and get a souvenir to bring home. That trip was the highlight of our summer vacation, getting together and having fun.

We were tired as we headed home and remembered each vacation day until we could go once again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Two August Hurricanes Hurt Farmers in 1955

From Extension Farm-News, September 1955 issue

Through the first week of August, and for a few days of the second, North Carolina farmers were cautiously looking forward to a bumper harvest—a welcome one that promised to reduce some of the accumulated debts of three straight years of drought, capped by a severe hurricane (Hazel) and the worst late freeze in memory.

North Carolina Extension specialists were equally happy about the way crops were looking. Many were on vacation or military leave.

The day of August 11 changed that. Hurricane Connie, after lingering off the Carolina coast for two days, moved in on the Wilmington area August 11 and out the Northeast corner the next day. In passing it reaped the record harvest that many farmers had hoped would be theirs.

When it seemed likely that Connie would affect the farming areas of North Carolina, absent specialists returned to their posts in Raleigh, which itself came under the influence of the storm Friday morning. That same morning, Director D.S. Weaver and Dean of Agriculture D.W. Colvard called a meeting of district agents and specialists. The 30 extension workers that met ad examined the potential damage realized the problem wasn’t simple. It ranged from small, but costly, things like curing fires drowned out in tobacco barns, salt water on expensive rugs, power failure to electric freezers, and salt water in an electric motor, to the obvious problems of brined crop land and corn felled by high winds.

Before the day was over, seven radio broadcasts and television appearances had been made by specialists, and two spot news stories had gone out over the Associated Press and United Press wires. Five of the broadcasts originated in the Extension Service studio at State College, and were carried throughout the state on the Civil Defense network; two went on the air over WPTF. A telecast from the State College studio of WUNC-TV was picked up by at least one other VHF station.

The news stories carried the pledge of Colvard that the college would do all possible to help farmers recover from the storm damage, and presented specific recommendations to help farmers salvage crops, equipment and furnishings.

About the time the afternoon papers were reaching flooded streets, teams of Extension specialist were on their way to the hardest hit areas. Their job was to find out the extent of the damage and render immediate assistance where they could. The results of the survey gave the governor the information he needed to take prompt action to obtain emergency relief for the agricultural areas, and it impressed on the other citizens of North Carolina the severity of the loss on farms.

Direct results of this, and a subsequent survey, were an increase of ASC cost-sharing from 50 to 75 per cent on land-plaster in the stricken counties; an extension of cost-sharing to include reclamation of salted land; and FHA disaster loans being made available to farms in the area.

Even as the Extension teams were gathering to make a formal report on their findings, Hurricane Diane struck the North Carolina coast, five days after Connie, and moved inland. It brought record, and generally unwanted, rains to cotton, corn, and tobacco fields.

It might have seemed a tardy meeting, coming as it did a day after Diane, which considerably changed the picture of destruction; but the front page play given the story on that meeting indicated the extent of Connie’s work was still news. It was a tale of almost complete destruction to the farm economy of at least one county. Based on the survey of Specialists Al Banadyga and E.R. Collins, it showed there was no obvious way to remedy the damage. In Hyde County, the two reported, farmers were still suffering from last year’s Hazel, which poured salt water on 3,500 acres of cropland. Connie raised the figure to “8,000 acres of land unfit for agricultural production.” (This was later revised to 20,000 acres when the Extension Service had totaled up the Diane destruction.)

Home gardens were completely destroyed, and in one town, farmers were already turning in mortgaged farm equipment. Emergency loans didn’t offer much help, Collins reported. The people of Hyde had borrowed last year and were depending on the 1955 crop to repay the loans. Now that was lost. Current cost-sharing rules for land-plaster to help counter-act the salt wasn’t much help. Few farmers could share a part of the cost. The situation called for something new and bold in farm disaster aid.

As Assistant Extension Director C.B. Ratchford said, “While damage to counties like Hyde is dramatic, there is damage in all of the eastern counties.” A bumper corn crop lay under water and was beginning to sprout. Low corn prices made it doubtful whether immediate harvest and sale was the complete answer. Tobacco was out of the field in most places, but in some it wasn’t; recommendations were needed on handling wet leaf. The promising cotton crop wasn’t so promising anymore. The two storms had wrung 11 million dollars out of it.

At the August 17 Extension meeting, it was agreed that a further survey on damage from both storms would be made by means of a questionnaire to county agents, who were asked to call on other agricultural workers for help. This was the mail to 47 stricken counties by that afternoon. In another week, the answers were back.

The loss to farms amounted to 62 million dollars. It was broken down into workable details that showed the agricultural agencies where their work lay.

Meantime, recognizing the need for immediate action, Gov. Luther Hodges, Director Weaver, Commissioner of Agriculture L.Y. Ballentine, Attorney General William Rodman, and others, including Representatives Graham Barden and Hubert Bonner, attended a mass meeting of farmers at Belhaven, Beaufort County. The people who could help learned first-hand the problems created by the hurricanes; agricultural agency representatives explained what they could offer under existing rules, and pledged qall speed possible in obtaining aid.

When the governor received a copy of the compilation of damage reports from county agents, he called a meeting of agricultural officials Monday afternoon, August 22. The FHA, SCS, ASC, Extension Service, and State Department of Vocational Agriculture were represented at the meeting. The group suggested that counties establish permanent committees on hurricane damage. Membership was to be composed of the chairman of the county Soil Conservation District Supervisors, Farmers Home Administration Committee, and County ASC Committee, and the membership of the Technical Agricultural committee, which is made up of the FHA supervisor, SCS technician, county ASC manager, county agent, and one vocational agriculture teacher. Four additional members were to be chosen by the other eight members.

The counties have completed the organization of these committees, and some have already submitted their recommendations.

The first assignment of the committees was to ascertain the damage done by the two hurricanes; in most cases the Extension survey fulfilled this need:

The committees were asked to study the situation in their counties and to make recommendations for (1) immediate emergency procedures; (2) medium range steps to be taken (such as counter-acting the salt damage to permit cropping next year); and (3) long-range protection against hurricane damage.

Since the first hurricane struck, Extension specialists have been directed to give priority attention to the counties suffering damage. Through the Extension news, radio, and television services, the specialists have been regularly issuing timely recommendations to help stricken farmers earn incomes this year, and protect their equipment and household furnishings.

Not the least results of the prompt action taken by the Extension Service is the optimism displayed by farmers. The initial presence of the survey team, the subsequent action of the governor, ASC and FHA, based on the Extension reports, and most recently the establishment of local organizations on hurricane damage, have demonstrated to disheartened farmers that somebody is interested in their welfare—to the point of doing something about it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Early American Soil Conservationists, 1941

Early American Soil Conservationists by Angus McDonald of the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, was published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1941. When Americans had more land than labor, soil conservation was not a priority and erosion became a serious problem. This book features men who promoted farming methods that preserved the soil, including:

--Jared Elliot (1685-1763of Killingsworth, Connecticut, a minister, doctor, and part-time farmer who noted the problems of erosion and resulting loss of fertility in hilly New England and sought answers.

--Samuel Deane (1733-1814), a minister and farmer, who turned to fulltime farming at Gorham, Maine, during the Revolution. He advocated experimental agriculture and addressed wind erosion. He wrote a text on American agriculture, The New England Farmer or Georgical Dictionary, which was published in 1790. (Deane would have said he was a resident of Massachusetts because Maine was a part of Massachusetts until 1820. His farm was located near what is now Portland, Maine.)

--Solomon Drown (1753-1834) of Providence, Rhode Island, a farmer and a scientist, wrote The Compendium of Agriculture, or the Farmer’s Guide with his son, William. Drown wrote frequently, and fellow farmers listened to him. His work was continued by his son.

--John Taylor (1753-1824), a wealthy gentleman farmer, who, in his time, was the most influential agricultural reformer in the South. He lived on the Rappahannock River near Port Royal, Virginia, and had two large farms and wrote Arator, published in 1813.

--John Lorain (1764-1819), who farmed near Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, wrote 13 essays for the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture. His book, Nature and Reason Harmonized in the Practice of Agriculture, was published in 1925, after his death.

--Isaac Hill (1789-1851), an agricultural reformer and champion of erosion control as editor of the New Hampshire Patriot newspaper. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930 and as governor of New Hampshire in 1836. He became editor of the Farmer’s Monthly Visitor farm journal in 1839.

--Nicholas T. Sorsby (1818-1868), a native of North Carolina and a physician, farmed in Alabama and Mississippi. He wrote Horizontal Plowing and Hillside Ditching, the only book devoted to erosion control published before the Civil War, for the North Carolina State Agricultural Society. It was reprinted by The Southern Planter of Virginia, and in the American Cotton Planter and Soil of the South in 1859.

--Edmund Ruffin (1794-1865) began farming on his father’s farm at Coggin’s Point on the James River in Prince George County, Virginia. He became concerned about loss of fertility and studied stream flow and erosion. He also recognized sheet wash, a type of erosion which had removed all the topsoil from fields in areas of the Tidewater, and promoted green cover crops.

To read Early American Soil Conservationists, go to

Clay County Receives National Honor, 1956

From the August 1956 issue of Extension Farm-News, Raleigh, NC

HAYESVILLE—Citizens of Clay County joined with the United States Department of Agriculture in honoring their farm and home agents at the Clay County Day celebration Friday, August 10. The special day’s events marked the receipt of a plaque presented to the extension staff of Clay County for their superior service to the agriculture of the county. Those honored were R.G. Vick, farm agent; Velma Beam Moore, home agent; H.J. Rosenkranz, assistant farm agent; and Janet C. Martin, assistant home agent.

Awarding the plaque to the agents was L.I. Jones, field representative of the USDA’s Federal Extension Service in Washington, D.C. Jones read the citation on the plaque to the audience. It stated:

For successfully assisting rural families in Clay County, N.C. to recognize problems and adopt more productive farming methods, thereby improving living conditions and creating a climate in which good citizenship has flourished.

It was signed by Ezra Taft Benson, Secretary of Agriculture.

In recognizing the work which this group of men and women have done, Jones cited tremendous increases made in gross farm income since 1940 when the gross was $100,000. In 1955 the gross income of Clay County farmers had reached $1,102,000.

Presiding over the ceremony was J. Howard Walker, Clay County hatcheryman. Following special music from the Junior Glee Club directed by Mrs. E.C. Strandridge, the invocation was given by the Rev. Boyce Huffstettler.

Speaking on the changes that had been made in Clay County, Cline E. McClure, former county commissioner and one of the first Clay County farmers to establish a grade A dairy, brought forcefully to the attention of the assembled guests the many changes which he had himself seen in the development of Clay County.

President of the Clay County Council of Home Demonstration Clubs, Mrs. Kathleen Roach talked about the many changes that had been made in the homes of the county and of the many projects which the women of Clay County had undertaken over the past 15 years.

The citizens of Clay County were challenged to further progress by Miss Ruth Current, State Home Demonstration Agent for the North Carolina Extension Service. Miss Current said that the challenge for the future included reaching even more people with the better way of life that was developing in Clay County, developing and training more leaders, and continuing the cooperation which was so evident among the people and agencies of the county.

David S. Weaver, Director of the North Carolina Extension Service, stated that farm people have a real task in educating the representatives of the people to the real problems of the farmers as the farmers of the country are now a minority group, and as the farm population continues to decrease, they will become even more of a minority group. Weaver introduced L.I. Jones who made the presentation to the Clay County Extension Staff.

Individual certificates were awarded each member of the Clay County extension team in addition to the plaque presented the county. This award for superior service was given to only one other county group in the United States this year.

After the lunch, the guests assembled in the auditorium of the high school to hear a speech by the Honorable George A. Shuford, congressional representative from this district. Shuford stated that he wished to see the western area of North Carolina developed to its fullest potential. In looking to the future, he stated that he believed Clay County would want to consider attracting industry to the area. For, he added, a well-rounded economy in the county will depend on fulltime employment. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Iredell Farmers with Successful Dairy Farms, 1945

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published Aug. 20, 1945, in the Charlotte Observer and the Wilmington Star

From Iredell County comes the startling statement that the most successful farmers in that section are those who are milking cows. This observation is made by an old hand at the livestock game and one who was reared on a livestock farm and has studied cattle for a number of years. He is Maury Gaston, farm agent in progressive Iredell, where North Carolina’s only large milk canning plant is located.

Those familiar with the state’s livestock history will recall that Iredell farmers have been a long time in building their dairy industry, and they did it gradually but in a solid, substantial sort of way.

They started by having pasture demonstrations here, there, and yonder over the county. They would seed various mixtures of grasses and clovers; fertilize them in different ways; seed them differently; and handle them so as to learn how they would pay best in milk production. Then, they organized tours and went in large groups to visit the different pasture plots.

Here the owner would tell exactly how he seeded and handled the pasture and would give some of the results in terms of milk. The visiting farmers could then see for themselves how the pasture was growing on that kind of soil and under that method of treatment. Then they would visit another farm and another pasture plot. Finally, after some years of this, the then county agent, Ray Morrow, began to send to every farmer in the county a little printed postcard on which he gave the treatment for pastures as found best as a result of all the demonstrations.

It was not long until permanent pastures had been seeded from one end of the county to the other. As the folks grew the feed, then they began to add cows. Most of them specialized in the Jersey breed and began to build up their herds as they could.

The 4-H Club members also bought purebred heifers and purebred sires and began to start small herds of their own. Some of the fine foundation stock brought from the Isle of Jersey by the Honorable Cameron Morrison* were purchased by Iredell farmers.

They secured good animals from every source that was available, however, and when the big commercial milk processing plant began to look for a place to locate in North Carolina, the managers naturally went to Iredell. This plant now has milk receiving stations at Shelby and at Albemarle in addition to the great central plant at Statesville, and milk by the millions of gallons are flowing into these three plants for processing.

But it all started through the small acre demonstrations of pastures and in the faith of a people who believed that they could make a success of the dairy business. It is no mistake to say that they have. Maury Gaston succeeded Ray Morrow as farm agent when Ray went to manage Morrowcroft Farm in Mecklenburg County, and Maury says that those who milk cows in Iredell are the best farmers there. Their farms are in better shape; their homes look better; and their standards of living are higher than for those families which depend on crops.

Woodrow Bell of Statesville, Route 1, for instance, is regarded as a good example of one of the small progressive dairymen of Iredell. He milks only 13 cows but he produces an average of 30 pounds of milk per cow per day. This is a high average for any general farm herd, and keep this in mind, dairying in Iredell is a general farm proposition. Mr. Bell is securing his milk flow from grade cattle mostly and from pasture and feed grown on his farm.

He does use a high quality purebred sire with a good production record behind him, and he is building up his herd through the use of this animal. Mr. Bell says that his pasture is very good but that he does not depend upon it entirely. He uses temporary grazing crops, as every progressive dairyman should. On the Bell farm these crops are largely Sudan grass and lespedeza. The lespedeza fields are fenced that when the permanent pasture begins to be overgrazed to fall for any reason, the cows are switched to one of the lespedeza fields.

All the work on this farm is done entirely by the family and every effort is made to handle the cattle and the crops with as little labor or hard work as possible. Mr. Bell is of the opinion that grazing crops and cows make an ideal combination in saving labor and yet paying adequate cash returns. His herd was started with one or two cows and is being gradually increased year by year through saving the best of the heifer calves.

Alfalfa is just about as popular in Iredell as are cows. J.E. Dooly is now making preparations to plant an additional 30 acres of alfalfa this farm. He planted 40 acres last fall and says it is the best crop on the place. The land now being prepared for alfalfa has been in red clover and when Mr. Dooly harvested his crop of seed this summer, he started immediately to work the land with a tiller and bog harrow. A heavy application of limestone and manure has been applied and the crop will be fertilized with 800 pounds per acre of a 2-12-6 mixture to which has been added 30 pounds of borax per acre. This borax is being used to prevent “yellows.”

Mr. Dooly says he will use 25 pounds of seed per acre and will plant between September 1 and 5, depending on the weather. The farmer bought his present place only about four years ago but he is making it into one of the best in the piedmont section. During the past two years, he has developed an excellent pasture ad has more than 70 acres seeded to a mixture of blue grass, Dutch clover, and orchard grass. The pastures are taking care of 50 head of cattle at the present time.

And while we are on the subject of Iredell farming, let’s not forget also that the folks there grow fine beef cattle. In fact, they have a strong Hereford Breeders’ Association and right now they are making plans for a big sale to be held at Statesville on November 24. Iredell beef cattle men have some excellent herds and have furnished mush of the breeding stock now being used as foundation for other herds in the surrounding counties. Like the dairymen, however, these beef cattle folks say the secret of their success is their attention to feeding and particular to the use of pastures and grazing crops.
*Cameron Morrison was governor of North Carolina from 1921-1925. To read about him, see or

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Buncombe County Farmer Recommends Timber Plan, 1949

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, as published in the Wilmington Star on Aug. 4, 1949

Knowledge pays in farming. Perhaps in no other business does a man have to know so much about so many things to make a good living. An interesting example of this is seen in the case of Harry Morgan of Leicester, Route 2, Buncombe County. Mr. Morgan owns a tract of farm woodland, 33 acres in size, and containing about 145,000 board feet of trees ready for the saw. He was offered six dollars a thousand at the stump for the entire boundary as it stood. But he decided to look into the matter a little more and with the help of his farm agent, Riley Palmer, he secured the assistance of the Extension Farm Forester located in that section. The forester aided the owner to cruise his timber and to select and mark those trees which were suitable for sawing, leaving the immature trees to develop for later sale.

The sum of the whole matter is that Mr. Morgan marketed 78,000 board feet for immediate harvest, and he contracted to have these trees cut for $10 a thousand. He sold the cut logs for $30 a thousand feet at stumpage prices.

In other words, the farmer cleared his 33-acre boundary of the mature trees for which he received about 50 percent more than he would have received for all the trees had he agreed to the first price offered. Then, too his woodland would have been stripped of practically all of its growing stock. He figures it would have been 50 to 70 years before someone could have cut another crop of timber from that 33 acres. As it stands now, he plans personally to get another 75,000 board feet within 15 years at the latest.

The selective cutting that he followed in selling the first 78,000 feet the other day left him at least 2,000 feet of nice sound young trees as a start of his next harvest in 15 years.

Mr. Morgan wishes that every farmer in North Carolina with timber on his place would follow this plan. He believes it to be especially important to western North Carolina because that section has been developed mainly through its timber resources. Timber and forest products have always been among the leading commodities from the farms of that section, and, if this state is to keep up a sustained flow of forest products from stump to the consumer, every farmer must use his woodlands wisely. Mr. Morgan says it pays to do so. The eastern Carolina farmer will also find this to be true, he believes.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Jeter's Personal Mention Column, August 1945

“Personal Mention” by Frank Jeter, as published in the August, 1954, issue of Extension Farm-News

Happy is he with whom the element of surprise remains a constant companion, or he would fail to see the new things which happen all about him, which is by way of paying tribute to 4-H Week, celebrated here on the State College Campus July 19 to 24. 

This editor has been thrilled by some great music in his lifetime, but he has never heard anything more beautiful or more impressive than our National Anthem as sung by the 1,200 youthful delegates in the Coliseum at one of the general Club Week assemblies. A pity those renegade citizens of America who prefer to believe the teachings of foreign gangsters above the truth of life in this good land could not hear something like that once in a while. 4-H Club Week surprised everyone who had a part in it. It did what cannot be done. It was an improvement over the last one, and the way in which those rural boys and girls can stage complete new pageants, can think of new talent enterprises, and can sow such a wonderful understanding of their motto and pledge must always be a mystery. Perhaps it is a part of our American heritage. If so, let’s hope we never lose it. 

Our manners then to Mr. Harrill and to each member of his competent staff and to all extension people who gave their time and energy to make the occasion such a success. Typical of how these young people regard accomplishment at the Short Course was seen when Otis Ray Bullock of Edgecombe and Sara Sugg of Craven were crowned King and Queen of Health. Sara just about collapsed, and well she should because she had won the State Championship over some of the finest looking young ladies to win their way up to the state finals in many a year.

Word comes from the mountains of Macon County that a group of citizens who admired the work of Sam Mendenhall have established the Sam W. Mendenhall Memorial Loan Fund to aid deserving young people to complete their educations at this College. The fund is to be administered by a committee composed of the county farm agent, the county superintendent of education, and Mrs. Mendenhall, or such a person as she may designate. Tom Fagg said the fund jumped to $738 within a few hours after it was proposed, and money is still coming in. A tribute to a great gentleman and hard-working county agent.

Another tribute to the selfless service of Dean Colvard, Brice Ratchford, Gene Starns, Brooks James, Charlie Williams, and others who helped to make a success of the two-week short course sponsored by the North Carolina Bankers Association. The Tarheel Banker carries a laudatory editorial in its August issue about the short course and those who made it possible.

Three long-time agricultural workers have retired to less arduous pursuits. Oscar Phillips leaves the 4-H Club organization and Dr. S.G. Lehman the plant disease department. Oscar has checked in 32 years of service and Dr. Lehman a bit over 40 years. Miss Nellie Fort, who covers her typewriter as of August 31, tops both with 46 years of service to the college, largely in the animal husbandry department. Miss Fort is as much a part of State College as is Holladay Hall and will be missed.

Neill Smith was among those who came back to school during the Professional Improvement Summer School and after playing tribute to the college for what has happened on the campus since he was graduated in 1925, Neill began to dream of how different things would be if only the railroad did not cut right through campus. He asserts that the railroad should be moved and Neill, bear in mind, is accustomed to having his way.

For 28 years, the Negro Extension office in Alamance has entertained the official county personnel with a watermelon slicing in the basement of the County Courthouse on the first Monday in August. The occasion was started by J.W. Jeffries and has been continued by Plese Corbitt and Mrs. Carrie S. Wilson who did the honors again this August with 31 cold, tasty Congo melons sliced for their friends and acquaintances on the Alamance County staff. The Squire of Haw River* was there and a neighborly occasion was enjoyed by all.

Surry County has issued its community improvement booklet Working Together in Surry County and a credit to the county.

The 73 touring farm folks from Rockingham County enjoyed their visit through the Valley of Virginia into Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland where they mainly studied broiler and vegetable processing and marketing.

John Gray has written personal letters of congratulation to Austin Garriss of Montgomery, Pat Patton of Rutherford, Jim Farley of Cherokee, Emerson Black of Alleghany, Max Culp of Caldwell, H.L. Hendrix of Richmond, Harry Silver of Swain, Julian Glazener of Transylvania, Wayne Franklin of Haywood and Mac McMahan of Scotland for ranking as the first 20 counties in North Carolina in settling forest tree seedlings during the past season.

UNC-TV is scheduled to go on the air on October 6. A nice new studio is being rapidly completed on the State College campus and plans have been perfected for farm, farm home and garden shows each day.

J.C. Conklin of Grassy Creek brought championship honors to Ashe County for showing the grand champion in the annual Tri-County lamb show held at Boone this year.

Watch how regularly Grover Dobbins is hitting the news columns of the Taylorsville Times with good photographs and stories of important agricultural happenings in Alexander County.

So is that team in Catawba County. “Miss Hattie” reports 2,588 clippings recovered in June and a gradual climb in the use of stories and items about our Negro Extension workers and farmers.

Which, by the way, reminds us that the 32nd Annual State Conference of Negro Farmers and Homemakers at the A.&T. College was something to boast about. R.E. Jones is one of the sparkplugs in this annual summer gathering, and he goes about handling it with his usual efficiency and dispatch.

Herbert Brewer’s Chilean Nitrate organization has placed two fellowships in the School of Agriculture for research with certain botany and agronomy problems and our thanks to him and his local state director, Ralph Wehunt.

Again is heard the dulcet voice of E.L. Topping choralling the virtues of Hyde County and how they grow celery that doesn’t need salt, high-quality peppers, the sweetest sweet corn, and cucumbers which apparently change over into choice pickles. And says the sweet singer of Hyde, “All this can be no surprise because everything we produce in Hyde County is of the best quality.” But his voice lacks that lyric quality as he comments about the fellow who records officially that Hyde produces only 35 bushels of corn an acre. Topping says he has been searching for that acre of corn since he has been county agent in Hyde.

Earl Butz of Purdue, important to us hereabouts mainly because he is the husband of the former Mary Emma Powell of Turkey, Sampson County, has been named Assistant Secretary of Agriculture to succeed Dr. Hannah of Michigan, which again shows the influence of a good wife and 4-H training.

Put it down in your permanent records that the first Summer School for Extension Workers was a success, made so in large measure by the type of student who attended. Those of us who had a part in the school are pleased with how it was handled and with the results secured.

One of the penalties of practicing those things preached, in the case of John Harris, at least, was to put his home and grounds somewhat into the same situation that a gold fish finds himself. It started last June when John invited the folks to come see his 300 or so azaleas and it continued during Farm and Home Week when 1,275 people were counted one day inspecting his lovely lawn. And even until this late in summer, three or four cars stop every day at the Harris home.

Remember Jim Ridout, formerly with the Extension Engineering office? Jim is turning in a good job as editor of Electricity on the Farm magazine.

Finally, speaking of jobs well done, don’t overlook what is happening in all phases of extension, especially 4-H Club work in tiny Polk County. The cooperative firm of Paul Culberson, R.D. Flake, Mrs. Essa Shaw and Mrs. Elizabeth Ormand is really getting things done.

Our sympathy to Chancellor Bostian on the passing of his father, W. Russell Bostian on August 3. Mr. Bostian had reached the ripe age of 72 after a useful and active life. Burial was in the Green Lawn Cemetery at China Grove, the Bostian home community.
*Squire Scott of Haw River was W. Kerr Scott, N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture from 1937-1948, Governor from 1949-1953 and U.S. Senator from 1954-1958 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pasquotank Farmers' Report, August 1944

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Wilmington Star, August, 27, 1944

ELIZABETH CITY, Aug. 27—Pasquotank is another of the Albemarle counties threatened with a crop failure this season but for the timely rainfall of early July. The early Irish potato crop, covering about 4,500 acres of the country’s best farm land, was not up to par except in spotted instances.

As a rule, the potatoes were small and, because of this, the growers suffered from the lack of this income source. In the past, Pasquotank farmers have followed their Irish potatoes with corn and soybeans but more lately they have begun to plant a second crop of cabbage and snapbeans following the potato harvest.

County Agent P.H. Jameson says that out of the 4,500 acres usually put to potatoes, 2,500 acres of the land is next seeded to cabbage, 100 acres to snapbeans, and the remainder in corn, soybeans, collards, and the like.

It is not generally known, but Pasquotank is a surplus corn producing country. “We have always sold some corn, Jameson said. “Usually, we plant around 70,000 acres and in good seasons, our production is much above the general average for the state.

“We are growing more hybrid, planting over 400 acres of this new corn last year, with an increase this season. Many of our farmers have some corn to sell every year but we are making an attempt to expand our livestock production so as to feed the corn at home. With a county average of about 40 bushels an acre, livestock feeding should be profitable.”

Pasquotank farmers are growing more full-seeded oats to be followed by lespedeza for livestock feed. This supplements the corn crop and one can see some excellent herds of both dairy and beef cattle all over the county.

Swine growing is one of the old, established farm practices but growers have been upset about the ceiling price for market hogs and say no profit has been made on the corn which they sold through their hogs so far this year. One man told me that he fed about $1,500 worth of corn to his hogs and got just about $1,500 for the animals, leaving him nothing for his labor and the protein supplement which he had to buy.

Just the other day, the swine growers formed a small cooperative hog marketing association and will pool their shipments from a small loading installation at Elizabeth City. Vernon James of the Weeksville Community and one of the unselfish farm leaders of the county was elected to head this new organization.

James also is head of the Weeksville Vegetable Growers Association, which has 25 members among the landowners of this fertile farming community. This organization was formed originally to handle the farm labor situation in Weeksville, but its efforts have been so effective that it is now a sort of community club which tackles any of the problems affecting its rural families.

The club has appointed, from its membership, a selling agent to handle its farm produce and the growers said that this agent did one “swell” job with the fall crop of cabbage last year. Those who did not grow fall cabbage have seeded an acreage this season.

Jameson is encouraging these two crops of cabbage and snapbeans, following the Irish potatoes, because, he says, this allows more land for winter grazing. He took me on a trip through the county to see how small herds of beef cattle are on the increase.

Gaston Small is one Pasquotank farmer who is meeting with success in his beef cattle operations because he is using native cows crossed with purebred Hereford sires to build up his herd. At present, he owns about 50 high-grade fat stock as the market will take beef animals and sells his surplus.

He and his brother, Clyde Small, also a beef cattle grower, have beautiful homes surrounded by well-kept fields and pastures, attesting to the success of their livestock enterprises. But good homes are the rule all through the Weeksville section. Farming here is done largely with tractors. Jameson estimates that 90 per cent of the land preparation and cultivation is done with tractor power and this has eased the labor situation greatly.

Not so many peanuts are grown in the county although the acreage shows some increase due to governmental requests for more oil-bearing crops.

The old standby soybean crop still occupies about 16,000 acres of Pasquotank land but is being reduced. The average last season was about 2,000 acres under 1942 and there was a further reduction this year. The reason is that the average acre yield of around 10 bushels of beans at the government price to the grower of between $1.50 to $1.60 does not allow the crop to be profitable. The price this year is up some but many farmers only plant soybeans, they say, because they cannot find another crop to take its place and because they feel it their patriotic duty to produce the oil-bearing seeds.

Many growers have asked Jameson to suggest a crop that can take the place of the soybean and he has pushed lespedeza. About 4,000 acres of this legume are planted in the county and Jameson expects this acreage to expand rapidly once a local seed supply has been established. The lespedeza and permanent pastures are badly needed, he says, for the 112 men now growing beef cattle and the 160 women producing lambs and wool.

As one studies the farming situation in this county, he is impressed with the fact that the diversity of enterprises and the progressive attitude of the growers makes it one of the best agricultural counties in North Carolina even though its small area keeps it from being recognized as such on a statewide basis.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Successful N.C. Farmers, 1946

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Raleigh Times on Aug. 12, 1946

The fine things that rural people do on their farms are an encouragement to all of us.

There is John S. Hollaman, a former county agent in Henderson County, and his partner David S. Kemp, who bought an old run-down farm and have built it into one of the best dairy farms in the mountain section. During the past year, John and his partner have built modern dairy barns that will house 150 head of cattle. They have 100 acres of Ladino clover pasture that will carry more than one cow per acre.

D.W. Bennett, Wake County farm boy, now the farm agent of Henderson County, says that there are more purebred Guernsey cattle on this Shoals Falls Farm than on any other farm in that county. The two owners have 126 head of highly bred animals and 48 of the cows are in milk at the present. Last month, the farm led the state in the average production of butterfat per cow.

During the past four months, an average of 44 cows in milk have produced 1,042 pounds of milk and 50 pounds of fat per animal per month. A state record for the two-year-old Guernsey also was made on this farm when the animal produced 15,700 pounds of milk and 735 pounds of butter fat. She is again on record test and so far has yielded 10,216 pounds of milk and 469.8 pounds of butterfat in 175 days. She has milked up to 75.8 pounds of milk a day.

In other words, the dreams of a farm boy are coming true as he developed this dairy farm. Mr. Hollaman liked his work as an agent, but he has always wanted a place of his own where he could put into actual practice some of his good ideas about how to handle a dairy herd. He was given that opportunity and the result show that he knows how to make the most of it.

Ladino clover also has had much to do with the success of Troy McKnight, a good farmer of the Mt. Airy section of Surry County. Ernest Durham, farm management specialist, visited Surry the other day to take part in a farm tour arranged by County Agent Neill Smith and his associates. While on tour of the county, they visited the arm of Mr. McKnight and everyone had to stop and see his Ladino clover. The farmer owns but 20 acres of cleared land, but out of the 20 he has planted 11 acres to Ladino clover and has grazed it almost continuously since last March 1, with 26 hogs, 17 head of cattle, two goats, and now he has an additional herd of sheep. The pasture is still undergrazed. Mr. Durham said that this is one of the most intensively farmed pieces of land that he has ever seen. Despite the fact that he owns only 20 acres, Mr. McKnight is making a financial success of his work and said that if he had 20 more acres he would sell it and farm only the 20 acres that he now has.

On that tour also, the party stopped at the farm of E.J. Smith, who was said to have owned about the poorest farm in Surry County in 1940, six years ago. The Smith family consists of the husband and wife, one daughter, and two sons, and they own 130 acres of land. Back in 1940, they farmed 85 acres of crop land, but by last year they had reduced this by 10 acres to 75. They also had increased their pasture from five acres up to 15 and had allowed the woodland of 40 acres to remain as it was.

Records kept by Mr. Smith show that in 1940, he had an allotment of 3 acres of tobacco from which he harvested at the rate of 900 pounds of leaf per acre. Last year, he had 4.7 acres from which he harvested 1,400 pounds of leaf per acre.

In 1940 he grew 20 acres of corn, producing 15 bushels per acre. In 1940, he grew 12 acres of small grain, from which he harvested 20 bushels per acre. In 1940, he planted 12 acres of lespedeza from which he gathered 1 ton of hay per acre. In 1945, he grew 20 acres of lespedeza from he gathered 2 tons of fine hay an acre. In 1940 he planted 10 acres of supplementary grazing crops; in 1945 he planted 15 acres.

With his livestock, he had three cows in 1940 that gave about 3,000 pounds of milk a year. Now he owns 10 cows which are producing 4,800 pounds of milk a year. He also has a brood sow, three other hogs, three beef cows, and 200 laying hens.

Mr. Smith estimates his net cash income in 1940 to be $725 from his tobacco plus $78 from milk and butter, or a total of $803. In 1945, he sold $3,192 worth of tobacco and $1,000 worth of milk and butter, or a total of $4,192. He has used some of this increased income to build a small grade “A” barn in which to milk his 10 dairy cows, spending in actual cash, however, only about $400. His increased income by reason of having the better barn amounted to $500 last year alone. He grows all of his own pasture and roughage and most of his protein supplement. The hay and grain grown on the farm is sold through its own livestock at good prices. During the past five years, Mr. Smith has used 200 tons of ground limestone, 2,500 pounds of superphosphate, and 2,300 pounds of potash in fertilizing his land for higher acre yields. He plans now to buy or breed some higher yielding cows as he makes the money, so that he can really get a good price for all the hay, pasture, and small grain that he produces.

In the meantime, he is readily increasing the fertility of his soil by controlling erosion, conserving all the animal manures, rotating his crops and fertilizing for highest acre yields. The family does all the work now that the two sons have returned from the Army. The daughter is in college, with her education made possible through a more fertile soil and better paying farm.

Neill Smith says there is nothing unusual about the Ed Smith farm. He is just one of the Smith boys of which there are perhaps thousands all over North Carolina. His farm is an average-sized farm family. The significant thing about the place is that the owner grew tired of working himself to death on poor land and did something about it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Brunswick Stew Begins With Squirrel, 1916

From the August 1916 issue of The Southern Planter

Brunswick Stew
2 large squirrels or 3 small ones
1 quart of chopped tomatoes
1 pint of butterbeans
6 Irish potatoes
6 ears of corn cut fine
½ pound butter
½ pound bacon fat
1 teaspoon of fine black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon salt
1 onion
2 tablespoons sugar
1 gallon water

Boil water and salt; add onions, beans, pork, tomatoes and squirrel cut into small pieces. Cover close and boil 2 ½ hours. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Add potatoes, sugar and pepper. Fifteen minutes before serving, add the corn and butter; taste to see if it is right. Serve in soup plates.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Davie County Farmer Offers Advice, 1916

From the August, 1916, issue of The Southern Planter

Editor Southern Planter

I have been growing the weed for over 50 years. Soon after engaging in the work I decided that there were better dates than others for cutting tobacco off the hill. For many years I studied this theory until finally I was successful in locating a fact.

To explain: Tobacco has an oily substance which is rampant in the weed at intervals and if you happen to cut your tobacco when full of this oil, of course, it is bound to cure up nicely with a heavy body and be what we call “waxy.” Oil and water won’t mix and when the sap rises, as it does at intervals, it pushes the oil out at the pores of the leaves and if taken then the tobacco will be minus any oil and will cure up “chaffy” and be light and worthless.

It is very important that tobacco be cut when oil is in it. Some days those who work in tobacco will become waxed up with a gum, then other days they only get a little stained, this being on account of the varying conditions of tobacco through the oil and sap stages.

You have experienced cutting tobacco one week and have excellent luck and then when you cut a week or 10 days later, off the same piece of land and with riper tobacco, and have no luck at all with it.
--R.V. Davis, Davie County, N.C.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tobacco Curing Barns Fired Up, 1945

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Wilmington Star Aug. 1, 1945, and the Charlotte Observer on Aug. 7, 1945

Smouldering fires are flickering in the bricked up-furnaces of eastern Carolina’s tobacco curing barns these August nights. There is the pungent odor of the burning wood mingled with the perfume of the tortured tobacco leaves as they are changed by heat from the brownish green of the ripening plant to the deep yellow of the cured leaf.

Shadowy figures tend the fires by the light of conveniently hung lanterns as night falls after busy days in the fields. Under the leafy bowers erected at the curing barns, eastern Carolina growers and their families toil all day to tie the leaves in preparation for other curing.

It’s a picturesque job, although a hard one and the “tar” of the freshly primed leaves clings with intense persistence to the hands and clothes of those who work the tobacco. The growers believe, however, that the labor will have its reward for not only does the entire family co-operate, night and day, but extra labor is being hired where possible at exorbitant rates to “barn” the tobacco.

There is an excellent crop in Pitt County this season. The rains of early June came just in time to save it and later showers throughout the month assured that the growth would be continued until a fine quality of leaf had been produced. Pitt’s tobacco is of especial importance right now because the whole county has become something of an agricultural laboratory in which tests and demonstrations are being conducted with almost all kinds of improvements in growing and handling the tobacco. Floyd Hendrix, the enterprising county agent, says that, while the old wood burning furnaces may be somewhat picturesque, many growers are turning to oil burners for the reason that wood is becoming harder to get as the farm forests shrink from constant cutting. There are not over 1,500 oil burners in the county and the number is increasing as this new type heater can be secured.

But the Pitt tobacco grower has his problems, as do farmers everywhere. The dreaded Granville Wilt has invaded that county, along with black shank, root rot, and root knot. Scientists of the North Carolina Experiment Station working at the Oxford Tobacco Station have been fighting these troubles and have developed strains of new tobacco which apparently will be resistant to them. Of course, resistance to the diseases is not the sole answer as the crop must be rotated and otherwise handled and managed for best results.

But T.E. Smith says that the Oxford Station has in sight now a strain of tobacco that should be ready for distribution in a limited way by 1945. This strain is resistant to Granville Wilt, and, at the same time, will produce a quality comparable with other established varieties. A few field tests are not being conducted in Pitt County and elsewhere over the flue-cured area with some of these resistant strains. There are about 12 of them at present but two are said to be exceptionally good. I saw some of these strains standing up almost 100 per cent in a wilt-infected field while the named variety being grown alongside, as a check, showed at least 75 per cent damage.

I also saw some of Eugene Moss’ famed 400 strains that seem to be of extra fine quality. The new 402 strain, as I saw it grown on the seed farm of Brantley Speight near Winterville, was as fine a tobacco as I have ever seen in North Carolina. It also has certain resistant qualities, I believe, to the root rot disease. Then there are the Blackshank-resistant strains which are being field tested and are proving to be suited for growth where this trouble is present. For the time being, these Blackshank-resistant strains are being used almost altogether in the piedmont but with some further perfecting will be adapted to the coastal plains.

Great pressure is being exerted on some of the county agents to permit co-operating farmers to save seeds from the resistant tobaccos now under test. However, it will not be known until October 15 whether or not these new strains meet all the storage, manufacturing, and chemical requirements for a good quality of flue-cured smoking tobacco. Mr. Moss is working in co-operation with the tobacco companies to run manufacturing and storage tests, and if his new resistant strains produce tobacco on wilt-infested land, and, at the same time, will provide a quality of leaf that is usable for cigarette manufacture, then a great victory will have been won over this Granville Wilt.

But Pitt farmers are winning other victories over the pests and production troubles which have beset them. They used Dinitro dust this spring to save the early corn crop from the nymphs of the chinch bug which crawled from the ripening small grain onto the immature green corn and threatened, for a time, to destroy it.

Progress also is being recorded in the production of a high-yielding hybrid corn. Out in a Pitt County field the other day, I saw a strong man trying to pull up a stalk of hybrid corn and unable to do so until he had twisted it sidewise and had otherwise worked with the stalk until the great bunch of fibrous roots had been torn loose from the sandy soil. Hybrid corn is drought resistant, an important factor in North Carolina at this time.

Bradley Speight is doing an excellent job in developing certified seed of some of the better hybrids bred by the North Carolina Experiment Station. County Agent Hendrix makes the point, however, that not all hybrids are suited to Pitt County or to any other county. This work is still in its infancy but it shows that science is helping the North Carolina farmer to march towards a better day.