The market for organic products is still growing at a rapid pace. In the United States, the organic food industry grew from $1 billion in 1990 to over $28.6 billion in 2010. The U.S. organic industry is growing at a rate of close to 8 percent annually. By 2008, North Carolina was ranked fourth in the United States in production of certified organic eggs and broiler hens, producing over 258,000 eggs and 522,000 hens (USDA–ERS 2010). North Carolina also has six certified organic dairies, two organic wheat mills, two organic corn processors, and one organic soybean crusher. To be certified as organic, livestock must be fed organic grains as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Plan (NOP) Rules. This requirement leads to more opportunities for organic grain production. In North Carolina, organic grain producers have expanding opportunities to market their products to manufacturers that create foods for human consumption as well as for livestock feed markets. This guide provides farmers, Extension personnel, and other agricultural educators with information about organic production, certification, and marketing of grain crops as well as references to further information (see the “Resources” chapter). More resources and information on organic grain production in North Carolina can be found online at www.organicgrains.ncsu.edu. This guide does not cover all aspects of grain production, but focuses on specific techniques relevant to organic systems. Comprehensive guides to grain production can be found in the latest editions of these Extension publications:
Additional information is available from the NC State University Department of Crop Science.
The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) publishes a list of commercially available products that can be used in certified organic operations for pest control and fertility. However, some NOP acceptable materials are not listed in the OMRI list. The farmer is responsible for determining if any input is allowed for use on their organic farm. Conditions for use of an approved pesticide must be documented in the organic system plan, as described by the 2000 NOP.
We have made every effort to accurately cite NOP regulations, production information, and marketing information. Always consult your certification agency when you have questions about certification requirements specific to your farm.
Publication date: Feb. 10, 2014
Last updated: Aug. 9, 2017
Other Publications in North Carolina Organic Grain Production Guide
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Organic Crop Production Systems
- Chapter 3: Crop Production Management - Corn
- Chapter 4: Crop Production Management - Organic Wheat and Small Grains
- Chapter 5: Crop Production Management - Organic Soybeans
- Chapter 6: Soil Management
- Chapter 7: Weed Management
- Chapter 8: Rolled Cover Crop Mulches for Organic Corn and Soybean Production
- Organic Certification for Field Crops: A Guide
- Chapter 10: Marketing Organic Grain Crops and Budgets
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