Oscar Chavez’s first year of farming was extremely challenging, with poor production, and his wife challenged him to “make farming more profitable within a year or keep it as a hobby.” Technical assistance from CFSA helped him find his feet. Read more about Oscar’s journey in Jamie Rye’s article.

To reduce loss and improve the storage quality of high-value crops, consider adding a forced-air cooling system or pre-cooler. Although forced-air technology has been a staple for larger operations dealing in fruits and vegetables for decades, it isn’t often presented as a practical tool for smaller-scale growers. But with a few simple pieces of equipment, almost any grower can add forced-air cooling to their post-harvest process.

Read Jay Dunbar’s expert tip: Forced-Air Cooling Is Economical & GAP-Friendly.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) rule has proven to be one of the biggest changes to the National Organic Program since its inception. Designed to protect organic integrity and bolster farmer and consumer confidence in the USDA organic seal, the rule targets organic control systems, farm-to-market traceability, import oversight authority, and enforcement of organic regulations. Organic supply chains have become increasingly complex, and the SOE was crafted out of an effort to increase transparency in the organic market. 

So what does this rule mean that mean? Read the analysis over on our blog or in a downloadable PDF.

While there continues to be a wealth of resources on the organic certification process available to producers, the amount and time-consuming nature of paperwork required to achieve and maintain certification continues to be daunting and is routinely cited by producers as the primary barrier to certification.

Non-profit organizations at the state, regional, and federal level provide organic certification consulting for conventional farmers transitioning to certified organic, beginning farmers interested in organic certification, and farmers interested in using organic production practices in general. These resources include on-farm visits, transition and production handbooks, and more.

Read more about organic education and processes for growers.

One way to combat this weed takeover is by using silage tarps to create a stale seedbed. Silage tarps are UV-rated plastic tarps that are black on one side and white on the other. They come in various sizes and can be cut to cover any area. Cutting the tarps also makes them easier to manage; large ones can be pretty heavy with a bit of water on them. Read more about Dylan’s experience and advise on using silage tarps for weed control.

Here in the Carolinas, our diverse landscapes span from coastal plains to beautiful mountain ranges. We are seeing shifts in temperature, precipitation patterns, and more extreme weather events that continue to alter the farming landscape. Rising temperatures influence traditional planting and harvesting times, and warmer winters disrupt the chilling hours needed for our abundant fruit crops. Heat stress during the growing season affects crop growth, quality, and yield, ultimately impacting the farmer’s bottom line. One of the most pronounced effects we are seeing is in the precipitation patterns. Increased rainfall and more frequent intense storms lead to soil erosion, nutrient run-off, and waterlogging, while decreased rainfall leads to severe periods of drought where water management strategies are becoming necessary to save our crops. 

Climate-smart farming practices are gaining awareness and importance as potential solutions to these challenges. Cover cropping, reduced tillage, crop rotation, water conservation, and the use of technology are essential strategies for maintaining soil health, preventing erosion, and sequestering carbon.

Read the full article on Climate-Smart Farming by Kim Butz.

Organic sales in the Carolinas and throughout the United States continue to be driven by increasing consumer demand despite the obstacles to organic production faced by farm and livestock operations. This growing sector results in a substantial economic impact, but policy solutions are needed to protect this growing sector.

What does the big picture look like?
Read our report on The State of Organic Markets in the Carolinas, or download a copy of it for your reference.

Raising poultry for eggs is common for many small farms and homeowners. Adding egg layers to your farm can be a profitable way to diversify your farm business, or you may just raise eggs for your own use. In either case, egg producers need to know how to safely handle poultry and eggs to minimize the risks of foodborne illness. If you sell eggs, you also need to know the laws and regulations that apply to your operation.

Keep reading Sara Runkel’s expert tip: What Egg Producers Need to Know About Safe Handling Practices and the Law

When considering what soil amendments might suit your crop needs, basic soil health can sometimes be overlooked, especially during peak season when time is limited. It’s essential to consider overall soil health in your fertility management planning for many reasons, including; reducing erosion, maximizing water infiltration, drainage, and aeration, improving nutrient cycling, increasing nutrient availability, improving structure, spending less money on inputs, and ultimately increasing overall resiliency in the soil.

Keep reading Amelia Bruss’s expert tip: Making Amendments Work for You and Your Soil

The Carolinas are especially susceptible to the tomato fruitworm. Fruitworms can overwinter as pupa in the top few inches of soil, making them present and problematic for the entire growing season. Don’t miss Sylvia Reed’s article outlining the main identifiers of the tomato fruitworm and different sustainable management strategies growers can use to minimize the negative impact of this pest on their crops.