Celebrate 12/12/12 with 12 Tennessee Christmas Food Traditions

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | 05:09 pm

NASHVILLE -- We hit an auspicious number related landmark date this week: 12/12/12, a numerological wonder not to be repeated in our lifetimes. Since nobody seems to have attached any particular significance attached to this number sequence, why not create your own way to celebrate “Triple Twelve”?

Allow us to recommend eating. Lots and lots of eating. The holiday season is packed full of the best foods traditional Southern culture has to offer, but we often deny ourselves even one day of true indulgence because the Ghost of Bathroom Scales Future keeps giving us dirty looks. It’s a perfect time, just this one time, to recapture the tastes of past moments and to truly enjoy this moment we’re in.

On 12/12/12, spend twelve minutes being thankful for the top twelve favorites things in your life, then give yourself twelve hours to eat twelve great Southern foods you wouldn’t ordinarily allow yourself.

Forest Arson Investigated in East Tennessee Counties

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | 04:17 pm

- Rash of November fires set in Anderson, Campbell, Hawkins and Scott Counties -

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Crime Unit and Division of Forestry are teaming up in Anderson, Campbell, Hawkins and Scott Counties to remind citizens that intentionally lighting the woods on fire is a crime. A recent rash of fires in those counties is currently under investigation as arson related.

“Arson accounts for the majority of acres burned from forest fires in Tennessee. These fires can spread quickly this time of year and endanger human life and property,” said State Forester Jere Jeter. “The Ag Crime Unit provides an important presence in our rural areas to help reduce arson activity.”

So far this year, a total of 1,136 fires have burned 18,935 acres in the state from all causes. Arson accounted for 393 of those fires, burning nearly 14,000 acres across Tennessee. Since November, more than half of those acres burned by arson (7,361) were from 40 fires set in Anderson, Campbell, Hawkins and Scott Counties.

Walnut Tree Quarantine in Jefferson County Due to Thousand Cankers Disease

Monday, December 10, 2012 | 12:24 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture today announced the discovery of a walnut tree killing disease, Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD), in Jefferson County. The county is now under quarantine. Hamblen County is now considered a buffer regulated county because it is adjacent to a quarantined county.  Rhea County is also being placed in the buffer regulated category because Walnut Twig Beetles have been caught in the county but no TCD fungus has been found.

“We will continue to survey our forests and work to help slow the spread of the disease.” said TDA Plant Certification Administrator Gray Haun. “We are working with stakeholders to help educate citizens on the symptoms of TCD and how they can help.”

TCD is a progressive disease that may kill a tree within two to three years after initial symptoms are detected. The disease-causing fungus, Geosmithia morbida, is transmitted by the Walnut Twig Beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis. Branches and trunk tissue are killed by multiple infections of the fungus as the beetles carry the fungus from one area to the next.

Biological Control Released at Martha Sundquist State Forest to Protect Hemlocks

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 | 10:42 am

- Effort to protect next generation’s trees -

NASHVILLE – Predatory beetles that feed on hemlock woolly adelgids (HWA), an invasive pest killing swaths of hemlock trees from eastern Tennessee to the Cumberland Mountains, were released Tuesday at Martha Sundquist State Forest in Cocke County. The release was an effort by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry (TDF) to protect young eastern hemlock seedlings from the invasive exotic pest, which is responsible for killing many, if not most, of the mature hemlocks in the state forest.

“Martha Sundquist State Forest is a good site for these beetles to be released because there is a healthy population of HWA to sustain them,” said Douglas Godbee, TDF Forest Health Forester. “We will monitor these beetles over the next couple of years in hopes that they will reproduce, become an established population, and continue to prey on HWA in order to eventually control the HWA population.”

Native to Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) is a small, aphid-like insect that threatens the health and sustainability of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) in the Eastern United States. It feeds at the base of the needles and can quickly populate all needles of a tree, sucking the sap and ultimately causing mortality within 3 to 10 years of infestation. The potential ecological impacts of this exotic pest are comparable to that of Dutch elm disease and chestnut blight. HWA was first reported in the U.S. in 1951 near Richmond, Va., and has since spread to 17 states, from Maine to Georgia.

Local Foods from Local Folks Make Great Gifts for Loved Ones and Local Businesses

Tuesday, December 04, 2012 | 04:35 pm
PTP Website QR Code
PTP Website QR Code

NASHVILLE -- Shoppers who seek out local fare for gifts and their own holiday celebrations are part of a growing national movement to patronize small businesses. One popular resource for Tennesseans is , a site maintained by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as a free service to help consumers connect with local farmers and makers of farm-related products.

The Pick Tennessee Products website provides a gateway to locally grown and made products across the state, posting statewide directories of nearly 2,000 individual farmers and farm-direct businesses who list more than 8,000 food and farm products.

Savvy cell phone users can point their phone cameras at a Pick Tennessee Products “quick response,” or “QR” code, that takes them straight to the website home page.

Tree Planting Program Strives to Make Streams Healthier

Tuesday, December 04, 2012 | 11:07 am
Priority Watersheds
Priority Watersheds

- Landowners and Organizations encouraged to sign-up for 2013 -

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry (TDF) is now accepting applications from landowners and organizations to participate in the Clean Water from Urban Forests Riparian Buffer Grant Program. The program targets watersheds located primarily in Davidson County, but also includes parts of Rutherford and Williamson Counties. The goal of the program is to promote water quality in urban landscapes through the planting of trees along waterways that lack forest cover.

“There is a very real linkage between a clean and abundant municipal water supply to urban trees and forests, especially those along waterways,” said State Forester Jere Jeter. “As municipalities and citizens become more aware of this linkage, it is our hope that they will place more value on forests as a source for clean water, as a mitigator of storm water runoff and flood control, as a provider of recreation, and as an enhancer to home property values.”

The program provides native trees to public and private landowners, at no cost to the landowner, to be planted along streams and waterways in seven priority watersheds located in Davidson, Rutherford and Williamson Counties; specifically these include Upper and Lower Mill Creek, Richland Creek, Browns Creek, Hurricane Creek and Stone's River Middle and Upper watersheds. These watersheds were identified in TDF's 2010 Forest Action Plan as not having adequate riparian forest cover.

Haslam, Johnson Name New State Forester

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 | 12:27 pm
State Forester Jere Jeter
State Forester Jere Jeter

NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam and Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson today announced the appointment of veteran Division of Forestry employee Jere Jeter as State Forester and Assistant Commissioner.

Jeter succeeds Steven Scott, who retired earlier this year after serving 10 years in the position.

“Jere has extensive natural resources management experience in both the private and public sectors that will serve our state well as we deal with important forest resource and protection issues, and I’m pleased to join Commissioner Johnson in making this announcement,” Haslam said.

Did Summer Drought Decimate Tennessee’s Christmas Tree Crop? Not Yet

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | 04:43 pm
TN Christmas Tree Directory QR code
TN Christmas Tree Directory QR code

NASHVILLE -- Most customers who visit local Christmas tree farms in the coming weeks won’t notice, but growers without irrigation this summer saw significant losses in seedlings planted over the 2011-12 fall and winter.

According to Kyle Holmberg, marketing specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, some growers reported new seedling losses up to 80 percent. Losses of mature trees ran between 10 and 20 percent in areas subjected to significant drought combined with excessive heat.

Since a typical Christmas tree variety takes between six and seven years to reach 6 feet, however, most customers won‘t notice much difference this year.  Larger, mature trees can withstand more extreme weather conditions and are ready now for cutting or transplanting.

State Soil Conservation Committee to Meet December 3

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | 02:52 pm

NASHVILLE - The next meeting of the State Soil Conservation Committee will be held Dec. 3 at the Embassy Suites in Cool Springs. 

The meeting will be in conjunction with the annual convention of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.  It will be held in the first floor boardroom adjacent to the Junior Ballroom at 4:30 to 5:30 pm.

The agenda includes remarks by state Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson, and reports from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Water Resources program and the Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts.

State Ag and Economic Development Officials to Host "Rural Opportunities Roundtable"

Friday, November 16, 2012 | 01:57 pm

The Tennessee departments of Agriculture and Economic and Community Development are hosting a “Rural Opportunities Roundtable” for farmers, landowners, local extension and county leaders in Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion and Weakley counties. The meeting will take place Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. at the West Tennessee Agricultural Museum in Milan. 

The purpose of the meeting is to hear stakeholder concerns about agriculture and forestry issues and to explore opportunities for developing the state’s rural economy. The agenda includes a discussion of the Ag Enhancement program, Pick Tennessee Products and other topics of interest to area landowners. Representatives from the UT Institute of Agriculture will address the impacts of crop irrigation and marketing.

Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson and other agency representatives will all be on hand to discuss programs and services to support rural economic development. Representatives from the Port of Cates Landing will give an update on port construction. There will also be time for open discussion by participants.