USDA Prepared to Respond to Hurricane Florence

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses potentially impacted by Hurricane Florence of programs to provide assistance in the wake of disasters. USDA staff in the regional, State and county offices stand ready and eager to help. Additionally, USDA’s Operations Center will function around the clock.

“Our farmers and ranchers take financial risks every year to help feed and clothe the U.S. and the world, and a hurricane makes their situations even more perilous,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “At USDA, it’s our job to be there for them when they need help. All of our relevant agencies are ready to assist when natural disasters strike.”

USDA has important roles in both response to hurricanes and recovery efforts. USDA also is staffing the Regional Response Coordination Center in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region IV, which covers eight states including North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. USDA is providing 24-hour staffing to the FEMA National Response Coordination Center, and has personnel supporting the North Carolina and South Carolina State Emergency Operations Centers. USDA also is supporting FEMA Region II Regional Response Coordination Center in New Jersey to assist response efforts for Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Florence. Additionally, personnel from the U.S. Forest Service and USDA Office of the Inspector General are pre-staging in Charlotte, North Carolina to assist with public safety and security efforts.

USDA recently launched a disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover after a natural disaster.

In a continuing effort to serve the public, USDA also partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center website, located at This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledgebase of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance.

USDA also encourages residents and small businesses in impact zones to contact USDA offices which meet their individual needs.

Food Safety and Food Assistance
Severe weather forecasts often present the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends consumers take necessary steps before, during, and after a power outage to reduce food waste and minimize the risk of foodborne illness. FSIS offers tips for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe and A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes brochure that can be downloaded and printed for reference at home. Owners of meat and poultry producing businesses who have questions or concerns may contact the FSIS Small Plant Help Desk by phone at 1-877-FSIS-HELP (1-877-374-7435), by email at, or 24/7 online at:

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) coordinates with state, local and voluntary organizations to provide food for shelters and other mass feeding sites. Under certain circumstances, states also may request to operate a disaster household distribution program to distribute USDA Foods directly to households in need. As disaster response moves into the recovery phase, FNS may approve a state’s request to implement a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) when the President declares a major disaster for individual assistance under the Stafford Act in areas affected by a disaster. State agencies also may request a number of disaster-related waivers to help provide temporary assistance to impacted households already receiving SNAP benefits at the time of the disaster, and to provide flexibilities in administering school meals, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and other programs. Resources for disaster feeding partners as well as available FNS disaster nutrition assistance can be found on the FNS Disaster Assistance website.

Crop and Livestock Loss
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers many safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program (PDF, 257 KB) and the Tree Assistance Program. The FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Producers located in counties that receive a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation also is available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn what documents can help the local office expedite assistance, such as farm records, receipts and pictures of damages or losses.

Producers with coverage through the federal crop insurance program administered by the Risk Management Agency should contact their crop insurance agent. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.

Community Recovery Resources
For declared natural disasters that lead to imminent threats to life and property, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can assist local government sponsors with the cost of implementing recovery efforts like debris removal and streambank stabilization to address natural resource concerns and hazards through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. NRCS had made available nearly $2 million in advance funding under the Emergency Watershed Protection program to help local communities immediately begin relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods and is coordinating with state partners to complete damage assessments in preparation for sponsor assistance requests. NRCS also can help producers with damaged agricultural lands caused by natural disasters, such as floods.

The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial assistance to repair and prevent excessive soil erosion that can result from high rainfall events and flooding. Conservation practices supported through EQIP protect the land and aid in recovery, can build the natural resource base, and might help mitigate loss in future events.

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides support for disaster education through the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN). EDEN is a collaborative multi-state effort with land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension Services across the country, using research-based education and resources to improve the delivery of services to citizens affected by disasters. EDEN’s goal is to improve the nation’s ability to mitigate, prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disasters. EDEN equips county-based Extension educators to share research-based resources in local disaster management and recovery efforts. The EDEN website offers a searchable database of Extension professionals, resources, member universities and disaster agency websites, education materials to help people deal with a wide range of hazards, and food and agricultural defense educational resources.

Many of USDA Rural Development programs can help provide financial relief to rural communities hit by natural disasters by offering low-interest loans to rural community facilities, rural businesses and cooperatives and to rural utilities. More information can be found on the Rural Development website, located at

For complete details and eligibility requirements regarding USDA’s disaster assistance programs, contact a local USDA Service Center. More information about USDA disaster assistance, as well as other disaster resources, is available on the USDA Disaster Resource Center website, located at

Vydate Registration Review; EPA Accepting Comments

David Owens, Extension Entomologist,

EPA is accepting comments to oxamyl (Vydate) registration review, docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0028. You can find it by following this link: or by searching with the docket number above. In short, they are proposing reducing applications to 4 per season, removing aerial and airblast applications, and lengthening REIs to 3 days for all cucurbits, 4 days for potato, and 5 days for onion. Maximum application rates would be 1 lb a.i./acre. Application equipment cannot be greater than 2 feet above canopy. EPA is proposing to remove vydate from celery, eggplant, peanut, tobacco, tomato, and orchard uses. If these proposed changes impact your farming operation, please let me know and use the link to comment and provide EPA feedback. The comment period closes October 9.

Guess the Pest! Week #25

Bill Cissel, Extension Agent – Integrated Pest Management;

Test your pest management knowledge by clicking on the GUESS THE PEST logo and submitting your best guess. For the 2018 season, we will have an “end of season” raffle for a $100.00 gift card. Each week, one lucky winner will also be selected for a prize and have their name entered not once but five times into the end of season raffle.

This week, one lucky participant will also win A Farmer’s Guide To Corn Diseases ($29.95 value).

You can’t win if you don’t play!

Guess the Pest Week 25:

What is this disease?

Guess the Pest! Week #24 Answer: European Corn Borer

Bill Cissel, Extension Agent – Integrated Pest Management;

Congratulations to Grier Stayton for correctly identifying the insect as a European corn borer and for being selected to be entered into the end of season raffle for $100 not once but five times. Everyone else who guessed correctly will also have their name entered into the raffle. Click on the Guess the Pest logo to participate in this week’s Guess the Pest challenge!

Guess the Pest Week #24 Answer: European Corn Borer

It’s hard to believe that a pest that once caused an estimated annual economic loss of $1 billion dollars in the United States is now a rare occurrence. The European corn borer (ECB), as the name implies, is actually native to Europe and was introduced into North American in the early 1900s. In addition to being a pest of corn (field corn and sweet corn), it is also considered a pest of many vegetable and field crops. Since the adoption of transgenic corn hybrids in the mid-1990s, losses due to ECB have been virtually eliminated in Bt crops and significantly reduced in other vegetable and non-Bt field crops. This is one of the pests that the UD Insect Trapping Program monitors with black light traps. The reason we continue to monitor ECB populations throughout the state is because even though generally speaking, populations have been low, there are still local pockets where ECB is causing damage. The photo above of the ECB larva was taken on the Eastern Shore of VA by Helene Doughty from a non-BT sweet corn plot that was 100% infested with ECB.

For information on the benefits of Bt adoption, read this article: Regional pest suppression associated with widespread Bt maize adoption benefits vegetable growers

2018 Summer Rain and Temperatures

Jarrod O. Miller, Extension Agronomist,

Corn shelling has been rolling where fields have been dry enough. Due to the highly variable rainfall and temperatures we have had since April, every field will probably be a little different. Many corn fields planted in late April should have started silking around July 9th, with other fields following. During the month of July, daytime temperatures fluctuated above 86°F several times, which may have reduced pollination. This may be more prevalent in fields that were planted in early May. Fields planted late May through mid-June may have been luckier; they should have been pollinating near the end of July, when daytime temperatures stayed out of the 90s.

When temperatures at night remain above 72°F, corn plants are stressed and consume some of the energy they had built up from the sun. There are several nights where this occurred over the summer, typically also associated with high daytime temperatures. This will reduce the amount of energy corn plants have to develop grains. This is not a doom and gloom statement, it is simply a way for Delaware farmers to asses any differences they may find across all of their planting dates.

Georgetown represents the southern end of the state, and typically had the highest night and daytime temperatures, but not by much. There are a few times (April 30, July 16) that Dover was a little warmer. There is a lot more variability in rainfall across the state than temperatures.

As most readers are aware, we are receiving high rainfall again, some which may have come from tropical storm Gordon over the weekend. Unlike temperature, there is high variability across the state. The earlier predictions from Hurricane Florence projected that our region may get 2-6 inches, but after this summer that seems normal. Current tracking as put us in a better position that our southern neighbors, but we are not done with hurricane season yet.

Soybean Insect Scouting Update

David Owens, Extension Entomologist, and Bill Cissel, Extension Agent – Integrated Pest Management;

Continue to scout for corn earworm and soybean looper. Last weekend’s storm activity from the south could have brought up more loopers from that region. I have received a couple of reports of pockets of loopers in fields. They often show up in localized sections, typically in drier, less robust parts of fields. Defoliation thresholds prior to R6 are 15%, at R6, plants can tolerate greater defoliation. R7 beans are safe. Also, be sure to check the lower canopy if you do see significant looper activity, they sometimes start first in the lower canopy unlike our other defoliators that concentrate in the upper canopy. NC only recommends Intrepid Edge, VA recommends Intrepid Edge and Steward. Both products are ‘worm’ products and will clean up corn earworm. Steward has some, but not great activity on bean leaf beetle, and neither has stink bug activity. We also had a report of armyworm activity in some isolated fields. Armyworms can feed on pods, but are not as aggressive as corn earworm. There doesn’t seem to be much consensus in different states’ recommendations; some combine them with corn earworm thresholds, others treat them as defoliators, and others use a threshold in between.

2018 Mid-Atlantic Crop Management School

November 13-15, 2018
Princess Royale in Ocean City, MD

The Mid-Atlantic Crop Management School is held every November the week before Thanksgiving. This 2.5 day workshop has five classrooms supporting continuing education for certified crop advisors and other ag professionals in Crop, Pest and Nutrient Management as well as Soil & Water. This school is organized by Cooperative Extension from the University of Delaware, University of Maryland, Virginia Tech and West Virginia University. Other support comes from Mid-Atlantic State Agricultural Departments and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

To see the program or register please visit: Crop 18 Registration

If you have any issues with registration, please contact UMD Conference services: