Ag Newsletter September 2014

— Written By Silas Brown and last updated by


  • Extension’s Centennial Celebration 
  • Extension Soil Sample Drive
  • 8th Annual Tractor Parade & Ag Day – 9/27
  • 2015 AgOptions Grant Cycle
  • High Tunnel Workshop Series – Sept.-Oct.
  • Ginseng Seminar 9/17 & 9/18
  • Private Pesticide Recertification Class – 9/18
  • Livestock Grazing/Pasture Management Workshop – 9/25
  • Turf & Landscape Professionals Seminar – 11/14
  • Horticulture Spotlight: Scoliid Wasps Hovering Over Lawns
  • Moss Memorial Speaker for October
  • Stecoah Valley Center fall workshops

Extension’s Centennial Celebration

That’s right, the Cooperative Extension program in NC began 100 years ago. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established a partnership between the Federal, State and County governments in each county, which birthed, what we know as Cooperative Extension. The purpose then, as it is today, is to provide research-based information from land grant universities to the local citizens. NC is currently the 3rd largest Extension system in the country, providing knowledge and assistance in agriculture, horticulture, 4-H youth development and family & consumer sciences. There has been an Extension presence in Clay County since 1915, and it is our hope and expectation that we will continue on for another century. Thank you to all of our clientele, county government and our many wonderful volunteers and advisory council for your continued support of our programs and efforts. It is our privilege to have the opportunity and to provide assistance to our local community and ask that you continue to give us feedback and guidance as to how we can better serve you. Thank you!!!

Extension Soil Sample Drive

The Clay County Extension Service is offering a free soil sampling & shipping service from September 1 – November 21. Though there are no fees for sample analysis from April through November, shipping fees can cost as much as $3-$4 per sample. Any samples brought into the Clay County Office during those dates will be shipped FREE!

Sample boxes are available at the Extension Office. There is no limit to the number of samples. For more information, please come by or call 389-6305.

8th Annual Tractor Parade & Ag Day

The Clay County Tractor Club would like to invite the public to its 8th Annual Tractor Parade to be held on Saturday, September 27, at the Hayesville Town Square. Ag Day Demonstrations will be held prior to the parade.

Tractor Parade & Ag Day Agenda

  • 8:00 – 12:00 Mountain Valley Farmer’s Market
  • 10:00-12:00 Ag Day Demonstrations, Workshops & live farm animals on the square
  • 10:00     Farm Livestock & Equipment Safety
  • 10:15     Lawn Care
  • 10:30     Pruning & Care of Roses
  •               Food available for a donation to Tractor Club Scholarship Fund
  • 11:00     Children’s Craft Activity sponsored by Extension Master Gardeners
  •               Turf & Lawn Care Demonstration
  • 12:00     Tractors leave Hayesville High School for Town Square
  • 1:00       National Anthem
  • 1:15       4-H Chick Chain Auction
  • 1:30       Sweetheart Cloggers
  • 1:45       Tractor Raffle Drawing

Tractor entries to the parade are $15 per tractor. Tractor registration will be Saturday morning, Sept. 27, 7:00-11:00 a.m. All proceeds from the event, with the exception of the Chick Chain Auction, will go to support the Dwight Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund. Proceeds from the chicken auction will go to support the 4-H Chick Chain program through Cooperative Extension. The 4-H member received 25 chickens from Clay County Cooperative Extension. 4-H children raised the chickens and will donate 6 per child back to the auction program in order to raise funds to support the program for another year.

2015 AgOptions Grant Cycle

If you have an idea for a small farm business enterprise that you would like to try to get help funding, the AgOptions Small Farms Grant may help your idea along. Each year, depending upon funding through the NC Tobacco Trust Fund, Extension offers an AgOptions grant opportunity to the Western NC Counties. The grants range from $3,000-$6,000 for small farms. The grants are reviewed and awarded based on potential of success and demonstration of successful farming to the ag community, experience and expertise to accomplish the project, and adequate research of markets, expenses and project timeline.

Each year, 30-40 grants are awarded to farms in Western North Carolina. In order to apply, contact the Extension Office in your county by October 12, which is the intent to apply deadline, to discuss your ideas and find out how to make your application most successful. Farmer grants are due by November 16, 2014. Since 2004, seven grants have been awarded to Clay County farmers. Who knows, this year, yours could be one of them.

High Tunnel Production Series

The Cherokee County Cooperative Extension Service is offering a high tunnel production series of classes. A high tunnel is a non-heated greenhouse structure where crops can be grown year round in the soil. Growing crops under a high tunnel greenhouse offers several advantages to growers that include season extension, less disease and insect pressure, and a higher quality product. The five-week class series will start on September 23rd and continue each Tuesday through October 28th at the Center for Applied Technology (CAT) building in Marble. Registration will start at 8:45 a.m. and classes will last 1-3 hours depending on topic and questions. There will also be some visits to a high tunnel for demonstrations.

Topics covered in the training will be:

September 23rd: High Tunnels, what are they, types, where to put it and how to get one.

September 30th: What to grow and when to plant it.

October 7th: Managing soils and fertility in a high tunnel.

October 14th: Pest management in a high tunnel.

October 21st: Marketing what you have grown.

We will discuss the steps for a grower to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative. The initiative is offered under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and funding availability is to be available soon for eligible applicants.

You won’t want to miss this! Class size will be limited, so please call to reserve your seat. Registration fee for all five classes will be $25 or $10 per class if you just want to attend one or two classes. Registration fees will be collected before each class or you can send it in advance. To register for this training or for more information and directions, contact Keith Wood at the Cherokee County Cooperative Extension Center 837-2210.

Ginseng Seminar

The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service is offering a free seminar on Ginseng Production for homeowners who desire to grow “sang.” Topics covered will be: state regulations for growing and hunting “sang”, plant physiology, present and historical use of ginseng and comparing Asian versus American ginseng. Major time and emphasis of the program will be dedicated to the woods simulated cultural practices such as: site selection and preparation, sowing, harvesting and drying the roots and seed stratification.

Seminars will be held at the following dates and locations:

  • September 17th 2:00-4:00p.m. Swain Extension Center in room 114
  • September 18th 6:00-8:00p.m. Jackson Extension Center in room 234

Private Pesticide Recertification Class

There will be a “V” Training for Private Pesticide Applicators at the Graham County Extension Office on Thursday, September 18, 6:00 p.m. For more information, call the Graham County Office at (828)479-7979. This class will provide 2 hours “V” credit only.

Livestock Grazing/Pasture Management Workshop

There will be a Grazing & Pasture Management program held on September 25, 4:00-8:00 at Bass Hyatt’s farm on Old 64 in Brasstown. N.C. State Livestock Specialists, Dr. Matt Poore, Dr. Philipe Moriel, Topics of the program will include a fencing demonstration, strip grazing, soil health, use of annual grasses in a grazing system and a livestock working facilities demonstration. A meal will also be provided at the program, therefore a headcount is needed. Please contact the Extension Office at 389-6305 to register or for more information on the program.

Turf and Landscape Professionals Seminar- 11/14

Plans are being made to hold a Workshop/Seminar for Turf & Landscape Professional later this fall on November 14th. Extension specialists will also be available to provide information on their current research. Topics will include nutrient & pest management.

Horticulture Spotlight: Scoliid Wasps Hovering Over Lawns

From: Rick Brandenburg and Mike Waldvogel, Extension Entomologist

Scoliid Wasps Hovering Over Lawns

We have had a number of inquiries about wasps hovering over lawns and other turf areas. Bluewinged wasps, Scolia dubia, are black-colored insects with metallic blue highlights on the wings and thorax. The abdomen has two yellow spots near the middle of the abdomen and the tip is a red-brown color. Bluewinged wasps are in the family of scoliid wasps that are all dark, relatively large, robust, slightly hairy insects with contrasting yellow spots or other markings. Scoliid wasps are usually considered beneficial insects because they help control green June beetle and other beetle grubs. They are present in North Carolina from June to October, but they are most abundant during August (weather can push the early or later).

The wasps are often seen hovering a few inches above lawns, flying in loops and figure eight patterns. The female wasp digs through the soil in search of grubs, burrowing her own tunnels or following those made by the grubs. Upon locating a grub, she stings and paralyzes it. After laying her egg, she continues searching for other grubs and continues the cycle of stinging and burying the prey and laying an egg. When the wasp larva hatches from the egg, it consumes the beetle grub alive. They complete their development in the soil and this next generation emerges as adults next fall.

Sometimes scoliid wasps are quite abundant and conspicuous as they swarm during their mating dances. Later, females spend more time digging for grubs and the swarms are not as noticeable. These wasps forage for nectar and sometimes sleep on plants. As the nights cool, they burrow under the soil at night. Scoliids are solitary wasps rather than social wasps like the yellow jackets, hornets, etc., and there are no large colonies supported by workers. Scoliids do not have a nest-guarding instinct and these wasps rarely, if ever, sting people.

No control measures are suggested or really needed. Let them continue to do you a favor by reducing grub populations.

For additional information and a picture of the wasp, visit:

Moss Memorial Library Speaker-October 18, 2:00 p.m.

“Margaret Moseley’s 4-Season Garden” – Martha Tate; Saturday

Stecoah Valley Center Fall Workshops-Karen Taylor

  • Felted Wool Scarf Workshop – 9/10/14
  • Homemade Scented Oils & Lotions – 9/24/14
  • Natural Dye Workshop – 10/1/14

* To register or for more information on costs and details of fall workshops, call (828)479-3364, email at, or go online to: