Young farmers and others attend NC State Tobacco Short Course

Thirty-four NC farmers and allied industry representatives participated in an NC State Tobacco Short Course held recently in Raleigh, NC.

The twenty-one tobacco farmers (who are collectively growing more than 6,000 acres in 2013) and their location (by county) included: Alamance Co. – Kyle Norris of Burlington; Beaufort Co. – Archie Griffin of Washington; Columbus Co. – Garrett Gore and Justin Gore of Nakina; Granville Co. – Jason Dixon of Oxford; Johnston Co. – Jordan Boyette of Clayton and Loren Thornton of Four Oaks; Nash Co. – Peyton McDaniel and Phillip Watson, both of Whitakers; Person Co. – Scott Clayton of Cedar Grove and Shawn Whitt of Rougemont.

Pitt Co. – Tyler Dunn and Jordon Tyson, both of Ayden; Sampson Co. – Robert Fann and Brittany Tew Fann, both of Salemburg; Curtis Godwin of Dunn; and Kristal Jones and Will Sheldon Strickland, both of Mt. Olive; Washington Co. – Jed Spain of Plymouth; Wayne Co. – Justin Williams of Goldsboro; and Wilson Co. – Spencer Davis of Wilson.

The remaining eleven participants included: Shannon Parker of Four Oaks, Alex Sereno and Samdy Yeatts, both of Raleigh, all of the USDA/Risk Management Agency; Chris Garris of Gas Appliance Service in Greenville; Phillip Strickland of McLamb Farm Services in Dunn; and Joe West of Agri-Technologies in Clinton; and Aurora Toennisson, a graduate student in the NCSU Entomology Department of Raleigh.

Five NCDA&CS employees also participated in the NC State Tobacco Short Course. Research Station employees included: John Council of the Upper Mountain Research Station at Laurel Springs; Steven Mills of the Upper Coastal Plains Research Station near Rocky Mount; Blair Owens and Lloyd Ransom, both of the Border Belt Tobacco Research Station at Whiteville; and NCDA&CS Regional Agronomist Dwayne Tate of Asheville.

During the week of the NC State Tobacco Short Course, which coincided with the Southern Farm Show and the annual meeting of the Tobacco Growers Assn. of North Carolina, tobacco short course participants took part in workshops and other events aimed at helping them better understand all facets of tobacco production and marketing.

One day of the short course included a field trip in Wilmington to tour the NC State Ports Authority and the plant that manufactures sucker control products for Fair Products Inc. The group also stopped at the farm of Tony Jones, another young tobacco grower who farms in Wayne, Sampson and Duplin Counties.

Because of his and many other tobacco farmers' needs for additional bulk curing barns this season, Jones is constructing bulk barns on his farm. Jones is the husband of Kristal Jones, one of the short course participants. In addition to helping with the accounting function at the farm, Kristal Jones manages the couple's agribusiness operation, Smith Chapel Supply & Ag Services, Inc. in Mount Olive.

"Since our industry continues to face continuous change, we need to make sure our younger farmers are able to focus on how to attain efficient, quality tobacco production," says Dr. Bill Collins, a retired NC State tobacco extension specialist and coordinator of the short course program.

The program was conducted by the North Carolina Tobacco Foundation in partnership with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University with a grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. Instructors in the program included NC State extension specialists in agronomy, plant pathology, agricultural engineering, and agricultural economics.

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