SPECIALTY AREAS

To learn more about our programs in any of the agriculture and natural resources specialty areas offered by Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Major extensively grown cash crops in Virginia include tobacco, soybeans, corn, cotton, wheat and barley. Forages (hay, pasture, and silage) are the primary feed stuffs for dairy, beef, sheep, horses, and goats. Forage quality and quantity can have major impacts on feed costs and livestock profitability.

Production of the above crops integrates agronomic, environmental, and economic sciences. Specific production practices, such as fertilization and crop protection inputs, must be integrated into a program for each crop and for total cropping systems. Current emphasis addresses impacts of crop production on water quality. Most crops are currently produced using no tillage planting, which greatly reduces erosion and potential nutrient loss from the field.

Competitiveness of crop production is affected by many factors. Improving markets by producing value added products is becoming a major objective of crops programs. These include evaluation of hulless barley, bread wheat varieties, low linolenic and low palmitic acid soybeans, Natto soybeans, white corn, and possibly tobacco for pharmacological purposes. Management and marketing alternatives will be developed in cooperation with industry and implemented through on-farm demonstrations, area conferences, state-wide conferences, field days, fact sheets, and publications.

Caroline County is home to a number of large cash—grain operations. Grain (small grains and corn) and soybean production are the two largest crop commodities produced in Caroline. In order to serve the local agricultural community, Mac has instituted a number of programs.

The annual Rappahannock Area Winter Grain meeting is usually held in January or February annually. The latest crop production and pest control strategies are featured every year. The best specialists from Virginia Tech and area agricultural economists are presenters as well as the area extension agents. The meeting is also certified by the Virginia Department of Pesticide Services and Virginia Tech to re-certify Commercial Category 1-A, 60, 10 and Private Applicator licenses.

Livestock (beef, sheep, and swine) and poultry account for approximately 48 percent of the gross revenue generated in the agricultural sector of Virginia's economy. Additionally, the livestock and poultry industries provide a ready market for many of the feed crops produced in Virginia. For the livestock and poultry enterprises to remain economically viable and sustainable, they must use a systems approach to decision-making that integrates science-based principles in the areas of animal care and management (including health, nutrition, parasites, facilities), the environment (including animal waste disposal), and food quality and safety. Forages (hay, pasture, and silage) are the primary source of nutrition for beef cattle and sheep, as well as horses and goats. Forage quality and quantity can have significant impacts upon cost of production. Effective management alternatives that enhance profitability and sustainability are presented through producer clinics, workshops, on-farm meetings, field days, seminars, fact sheets, and newsletters that deal with methods to improve production efficiency and marketing strategies.

Extensive animal science questions or projects should be directed to John Howe at the Spotsylvania Extension Office.

Virginia produces 1,800 acres of peaches, 19,000 acres of apples and 1,400 acres of grapes. Fruit is utilized by two large fruit processors and more than 50 wineries. Strawberries and bramble fruits are produced on a few hundred acres for direct marketing, with annually increasing acreage as the state urbanizes. Nursery/greenhouse crops are Virginia's largest horticultural industry, with farm cash receipts totaling over $146 million on more than 1,500 wholesale operations. In addition, many growers produce for direct market. Over 1,200 growers produce 40,000 acres of vegetables annually, with farm cash receipts totaling $100 million. Commercial horticultural producers must control costs while maintaining yield and quality using production practices that protect the environment and ensure food safety. Producers must implement management and marketing strategies that are sustainable and increase profit. Educational strategies include grower schools, regional conferences, demonstrations, tours, electronically transmitted newsletters, electronic, telephone and on-site advisories, workshops and production guides.

There are a number of vegetable producers in the Caroline County area who market at local and area farmers' markets in Bowling Green, King George and Spotsylvania counties.

Proper selection, installation, and maintenance of plants are essential to economically and effectively reduce erosion, landfill overload (about 15-20 percent is yard waste), right-of-way maintenance, air pollution, and many other problems associated with rural and urban development. The environmental horticulture program addresses the issue of environmentally sound landscaping practices that are economically viable and acceptable to members of the community. The program utilizes workshops, demonstration sites, newsletters, the internet, and certification training to provide research-based information to public and private landscapers, landfill operators, school ground managers, developers, park and golf course superintendents, retail nurserymen, and garden centers to help protect the environment, enhance human health, and contribute to economic stability.

Pattie Bland, housed in Hanover County, is an Environmental Horticulture Program Assistant. If you are interested in the Master Gardener program, you can contact Pattie by e-mail at: pbland52@vt.edu or you can reach her on (804) 752-4310.

In Virginia, all private users of restricted-use pesticides, all aerial applicators, and most commercial applicators must be certified. Commercial applicator certification requirements depend on the applicator's class and scope of work. The Commonwealth of Virginia requires everyone applying pesticides for hire in the state to be a certified Commercial Applicator or a Registered Technician working under the direct supervision of a certified Commercial Applicator. The same is true for government employees that use pesticides on the job. Private Applicators of pesticides such as farmers or nursery people must be certified to purchase or use pesticides categorized as restricted-use under the 1972 Amendment of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). You may become a certified pesticide applicator by passing standardized tests prepared by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Once certified, applicators must maintain their licenses by participating in state-approved recertification programs. Applicators must renew their certification every other year.

The family unit is the cornerstone of a healthy community.  Family and Consumer Sciences programs provide families with research-based knowledge designed to improve wellness through positive changes.  There are many aspects of overall wellness including   nutrition and health, personal finance, and human development at all ages.  Through a holistic approach, Family and Consumer Science (FCS) Extension agents, program assistants, and trained Master Volunteers provide education that ensures Virginia families have every piece of the puzzle to be healthy and whole. 

A Vision for a Stronger Commonwealth

FCS programming is driven by the needs of the community---identified by Caroline County residents.  Our FCS Extension Educators work closely with families – in their community, workplace, and home – and with the professionals that serve them.  Pegi Wright is the FCS Extension Agent in Caroline County.

Hot Topics

Television and other electronic media are major forms of entertainment for children. Researchers found that the total time spent with electronic media by children ages 2 to 18 was five and a half hours each day (three and a half hours with television). Electronic media includes television, music, computer use, movies, and video games. In one study 75 percent of children 12 to 19 years old spent 6 hours a week watching music videos...  Kids Food and Electronic

Upcoming Events

Living Apart-Parenting Together is a four-hour class designed to educate parents about the effects of divorce and separation on both children and parents. It provides strategies that help parents living apart work out parenting decisions without putting their children in the middle. This class meets the parent education guidelines established by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Program Schedule  

Family Nutrition Program Is sponsored by the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and provides nutrition education to eligible individuals and families in Planning District 16.  Contact:  Beth Jimenez 

Family and Consumer Sciences

 "There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained."  Winston Churchill

 

Engaging with Communities

Virginia Cooperative Extension specialists in community viability work with Extension agents, campus-based faculty, organizational partners, communities, and individuals to further opportunity and build capacity in five program areas:   

Examples of our work include training county elected officials, educating entrepreneurs, facilitating collaborative projects, supporting the growth of community food systems and local economies, enhancing agent skills and community capacity in facilitation and leadership, conducting problem-driven research, and creating publications and tools that address critical community needs.

Do you have a question about Community Viability?

Perhaps one of the Community Viability specialists below can help you. Contact a Community Viability specialist or direct a question to them using our Ask an Expert system.

Community Viability Specialists

See a list of our Community Viability Specialists