State Soil Conservation Committee to Meet

Monday, July 16, 2012 | 07:41 am

NASHVILLE – The State Soil Conservation Committee will meet July 25 at 3:30 p.m. Central time at the UT West Tennessee Research and Education Center, located at 605 Airways Boulevard in Jackson, Tenn. The agenda includes a discussion of the committee’s statutory authority, reports from other agricultural agencies, a review of training and guidance needs for soil conservation districts, and an update on 2013 soil conservation district elections and appointments.

Despite Wilting Weather, Some Great Produce Still “Hot” at Local Markets

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | 01:16 pm
Fresh Tomato Garden Salsa
Fresh Tomato Garden Salsa

NASHVILLE - It’s been hot, lately. Have you noticed? Tennessee’s crops have noticed, too, hit with a deadly combination of record heat and drought conditions. In such widespread and long lasting situations, many summer fruits and vegetables stop growing and stop producing blossoms or fruits, even if the plant survives.

After an early and auspicious start, Tennessee’s sweet corn has all vanished at local farm markets. Other crops anticipated for later in the season, like melons, may never make much of an appearance at all.

As if stress and resulting damage to crops is not enough, extreme high temperatures make harvesting remaining crops more difficult. Worker safety is a concern, as well as the shelf life of produce that’s been picked. Harvesting very early or late in the day lessens heat stress for both plants and persons. Getting harvests out of orchards, fields and vineyards to cooler shaded areas to reduce field heat accumulation is even more important.

Haslam Executive Order Suspends Hay Transportation Rules

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | 11:21 am

Regulations eased to help farmers handle drought

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced an executive order in response to drought conditions and extreme heat impacting Tennessee farmers that allows haulers of hay to carry larger loads as long as they observe other safety requirements.

The order allows for an increase in gross vehicle weight to 95,000 pounds, not exceeding 20,000 pounds per axle load, for semi-truck/trailers. The order also increases the height of trailer loads to 13 feet, 6 inches and the width to a maximum of 14 feet during daylight hours. The increase in width allows haulers to transport standard six- to seven-foot round hay bales side by side, increasing the capacity being hauled per truck without a permit.

EAB Quarantine Expanded to Greene, Campbell and Cocke Counties in East Tennessee

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 | 11:51 am

NASHVILLE – Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect that destroys ash trees, has been found in Greene, Campbell and Cocke counties. These areas are all adjacent to counties already under an EAB quarantine. The identification was made recently and has been confirmed by USDA.

“The spring, summer Emerald Ash Borer surveys are in full swing to determine the extent of the infestation,” said Gray Haun, TDA Plant Certification Administrator. “We will be working closely with federal officials and other stakeholders to take steps to limit its spread when found and protect our forest resources and urban landscapes.”

EAB attacks only ash trees. It is believed to have been introduced into the Detroit, Mich. area 15 to 20 years ago on wood packing material from Asia. Since then, the destructive insect has killed millions of ash trees across several states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

2012 Hay Directory Available for Tennessee Livestock Producers

Monday, July 09, 2012 | 11:39 am

- Listing Serves as Helpful Drought Management Resource -

NASHVILLE – The 2012 Tennessee Hay Directory is now available to help livestock producers source locally grown forages. The directory is produced through a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation and provides a listing of hay available for sale by county.

“With record temperatures and drought conditions, many Tennessee livestock producers are feeding hay at a time when they are normally cutting it for winter use,” state Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Although this is a service that we provide every year, it will be particularly helpful to farmers this year who are looking to buy or sell hay.”

The directory is available by visiting the Farm Bureau’s website at

UT Extension Launches Response to State’s Drought Conditions

Friday, July 06, 2012 | 09:41 am

Agency provides resources for farmers and ranchers facing critical decisions due to hot and extremely dry weather; information is available for homeowners, too

KNOXVILLE – University of Tennessee Extension has launched a new effort to assist the state’s farmers and ranchers as they respond to the historic and unseasonably hot and dry weather – weather that is causing crops to wither and turning pastures to dust plots. The impacts are already far-reaching, with estimated drastic reductions in harvests, especially in feed available for livestock this fall.

Through a public website, farmers have direct access online to information that can help them make the critical and sometimes heart-wrenching decisions necessary to keep their operations and families financially viable. Information specific to Tennessee production systems has been collected and cross-linked on the website: which will be available to the public free of charge on a 24-hour basis.

State Issues Burn Ban for Seven Counties

Friday, June 29, 2012 | 12:46 pm

Prohibition Applies to All Open-Air Burning, Other Counties Expected

NASHVILLE – State Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson has issued a burn ban for Cheatham, Dickson, Gibson, Giles, Marshall, Maury and Sumner counties. The burn ban is effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice.

The ban applies to all open-air burning including leaf and woody debris and construction burning, campfires, outdoor grills and other fire activity outside of municipalities where local ordinances apply.

Under state law, the commissioner of agriculture, in consultation with the state forester, has the authority to issue burn bans at the request of county mayors under certain weather conditions. Requests from county mayors for a burn ban are considered in consultation with the state forester based on a number of factors including weather, climate, fire danger, fire occurrence and resource availability.

Hot, Dry Conditions Lead to Fire Advisory

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 | 04:13 pm

State Officials Urge Citizens to Delay Burning Debris, Leave Fireworks to Professionals

NASHVILLE – State officials are urging citizens to take fire precautions for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry is asking the public to refrain from debris burning until significant precipitation is received and to avoid other activities that could cause fire.

“Most areas of the state are experiencing very hot and dry conditions with low humidity,” State Forester Steven Scott said. “While permits are not currently required for open, outdoor burning, as a precaution we’re urging citizens to avoid debris burning until conditions improve.”

State Veterinarian Issues Wild Hog Transport Order

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 | 02:54 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture today announced an Order by the State Veterinarian specifying conditions under which wild-appearing hogs are to be transported in the state.

The order was issued in support of legislation passed this year by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam making it illegal to transport and release wild-appearing hogs without proper documentation. The new law goes into effect July 1.

“Wild hogs have the propensity to reproduce in great numbers, carry diseases, destroy crops and cause serious ecological damage,” state veterinarian Charles Hatcher said. “The purpose of the order is to help reduce the incidence of disease and to support efforts to prevent the illegal transportation and releasing of wild hogs.”

State Recognizes Outstanding Chefs, Stores, Foods With PTP Awards

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | 09:20 am
2012 Pick Tennessee Products Winners
2012 Pick Tennessee Products Winners

NASHVILLE – Tennessee chefs, retail stores and the makers of Tennessee’s finest foods have won honors from the state’s Pick Tennessee Products campaign.

Among those honored include Executive Chef W. Tyler Brown and Chef Cole Ellis from Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel Capitol Grille, for their commitment to local farm and foods preservation; Food City Produce and Knox Region Kroger for offering local produce and processed products in retail groceries; and Purity and Mayfield dairies for their longstanding partnerships with Pick Tennessee Products.

The top three Tennessee foods for 2012 are Nashville’s Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company, owned by Scott Witherow, in first place; Brentwood’s Glazee’ Artisan Ice Creams and Desserts, owned by Michael E. Woody, second place; and BBQ Fight Club barbecue sauces by Katy and Andy Garner, owners of Nashville’s popular Hog Heaven restaurant, in third place.