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N.C. agriculture serves you three times a day

Modern methods

Submitted photo A modern combine harvesting wheat at Piedmont Research Station in 2016.

By Amy-Lynn Albertson

Rowan County Extension Director

While cleaning out the office one Friday, we found Extension Annual Reports dating back to 1921. The Rowan County Agent in the 20s was W.G. Yeager. His stories were interesting to read and it was evident he loved Rowan County and loved working for Extension.

The County Extension slogan in 1929 was “Richer Soils, Convenient Homes, and Educated People.” For July of that year, Yeager wrote: “Tuesday of this week witnesses the introduction of a step forward in modern harvesting for Piedmont Carolina, with the starting of a combine on the farm of Mr. W.D. Graham in a 35 acre field of wheat. We had a crowd of farmers estimated at 1500 and was said to be the largest crowd gathered for a farm meeting in the history of this county. The combine did perfect work, cutting threshing, cleaning and sacking the grain at the rate of 70 bushels/hour and completed the field Wednesday morning with a total yield of 928 bushels or 26 ½ bushels/acre.”

Today a combine with a 35-foot header could harvest that whole 35 acre field in less than two hours, and the yield would be somewhere around 80 bushels/acre for about 2,800 total bushels. Rowan County is home to the second place wheat yield contest winner for 2016 with 100 bushels/acre by the Moore Farm.

Technology and plant breeding have a come a long way, baby! That is critical to feeding a world of 10 billion people by the year 2050. One thing farmers and agronomists know is that they are not making any more land or soil, so we’d better be as efficient and productive as we can while protecting the resources we have.

In 1930, Rowan County had 3,241 farms with the average size of 77 acres. According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture, Rowan County had 1,011 farms with a mean size of 120 acres in 2015.

We have 571 animal farms with an annual value of $33 million dollars. Rowan is home to 42 fruit, nut and berry farms with sales of $1 million, and 46 vegetable farms with sales over $7 million.

With less total land in farms, we are still producing quite a bit for our state. North Carolina agriculture feeds you three times a day and for that, we all need to be thankful.

March 15 in Raleigh will be an N.C. Agriculture Awareness Event (#NCAgDay). Buses will leave from the state fairgrounds at 9 a.m. to shuttle people to the General Assembly. Citizens can make appointments with their legislators from 9-11 a.m. or noon-2 p.m.

The rally on the Bicentennial Plaza, between the capital and the legislative buildings, begins at 11 a.m., where Agricultural Commissioner Steve Troxler will speak. The commodity groups will also have exhibits and displays at the legislative building. For more information about NC Ag Day go to www.ncagr.gov.

Rowan County will celebrate agriculture with our Farmer Appreciation Breakfast on March 16 at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church from 7-9 a.m. A locally grown breakfast will be provided for our farmers and Dr. Rich Bonanno, director of Cooperative Extension, will be the keynote speaker.

Farmers are free and can register online by going to go.ncsu.edu/2017farmerappreciation or by calling 704-216-8970. This event is co-sponsored by the Rowan Chamber of Commerce. Chamber members and interested residents are invited to attend for a fee of $15 (members) and $25 (non-members).

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