Amy-Lynn Albertson: Farm Summit has lots of answers

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 25, 2017

By Amy-Lynn Albertson

Rowan Cooperative Extension

Question: I have 10 acres of land I inherited from my grandmother. I would like to put it into some farm production that will make it profitable. What do you suggest I grow?

Answer: There are many different things I could suggest you grow, but to be profitable it starts with something you are passionate about. A successful farm is just like a successful business — it is all about the planning. I suggest you attend the N.C. Farm School Summit at the Mountain Horticultural Extension Center in Mills River. Thursday, Sept. 14 marks the kick-off of the summit with a choice between an animal operation tour or a horticultural operation tour that will last a half a day. This first-time offer will expose invitees to how western North Carolina does local farming. There will be an opportunity for guests to join for social time on Thursday evening.

Friday, Sept. 15, marks a full day of events for guests who can choose between two different specialized topics based on their specific needs. The first part of the day will cover a choice of social media marketing, poultry health or high tunnels. The second part of the day will add vegetable grafting, plasticulture or pastured pork. Those who attend can also expect a farmer panel that will address questions students asked as a part of registering for the event.

N.C. Farm School invites all past graduates and anyone who wants to learn key production principles to come and learn from the best on these topics. You will hear from experienced farmers, university specialists and industry professionals about what will make your farm a success. Go to for more information and registration for the 2017 NC Farm School Summit.

Question: What the heck is wrong with my ornamental cherry trees? The leaves are turning yellow and dropping off.

Answer: Overwatering can cause yellowing. This could be due to a variety of reasons, but one example is that cherry trees planted in lawns tend to get too much water. If this is your problem, stop watering the lawn near the tree. Remove the grass over the root area of your cherry tree, and replace it with 2 to 4 inches of mulch. Don’t pile the mulch up against trunk bark, where it will cause rot and create new problems. Then water the tree every three weeks, allowing it to dry out considerably between waterings.

Sometimes leaves yellow and drop early from a fungal disease called leaf spot or Blumeriella jaapii. Small purple spots on the tops of leaves are the first symptom of this fungal disease. The spots turn brown and begin to enlarge and collapse, leaving a hole in the foliage. Older leaves will yellow and drop from the branches, and the cherry tree can lose all its leaves, which weakens the tree and increases its susceptibility to cold damage. Properly timed applications of fungicide will help prevent cherry leaf spot.   Finally, leaves yellowing and dropping are pretty much the standard state of things for ornamental cherries in late summer. They don’t like the heat and definitely don’t like it too dry or too wet. In general, they are persnickety trees and only live about 20 years.

Question: How do I enter my enormous pumpkin in the Rowan County Fair?

Answer: The largest pumpkin category at the Rowan County Fair is my favorite category. Competitive pumpkin growing is its own little world and an amazing one at that. To enter a pumpkin, you need to go to the Rowan County Agricultural Fair website:, download an entry form and fill it out. The category number for largest pumpkin is C-59. You can bring your form into the Rowan County Extension Center or mail it to 2017 Rowan County Fair, PO Box 66, Salisbury NC 28145 or fax your entry to 704-216-8995. To learn what judges are looking for and how to best present your items at the fair, attend the DIY How to Win a Blue Ribbon at the Fair workshop Saturday, Sept. 9 from 10 a.m.-noon at the Rowan County Extension Center. Local experts will share how to enter everything in the fair from flowers to canning.