Thirty-four NC farmers and allied industry representatives recently participated in a N.C. State University coordinated Tobacco Short Course held in Raleigh, designed to help them better understand all facets of tobacco production and marketing. The end of the course coincided with the Southern Farm Show and the annual meeting of the Tobacco Growers Assn. of North Carolina.
One day of the short course included a field trip to Wilmington to tour the N.C. State Ports Authority and the plant that manufactures sucker control products for Fair Products, Inc. The group also stopped at the farm of Kristal and Tony Jones, a young couple who farm tobacco in Wayne, Sampson and Duplin counties. Kristal was one of the short-course participants.
The Joneses are constructing bulk barns on their farm. Kristal helps with the accounting function at the farm, and 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 N.C. State Extension tobacco 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 include N.C. State University Extension specialists in agronomy, plant pathology, agricultural engineering, and agricultural economics.
The 21 tobacco farmers that participated in the course include: Kyle Norris of Burlington; Archie Griffin of Washington; Garrett Gore and Justin Gore of Nakina; Jason Dixon of Oxford; Jordan Boyette of Clayton and Loren Thornton of Four Oaks; Peyton McDaniel and Phillip Watson, both of Whitakers; Scott Clayton of Cedar Grove and Shawn Whitt of Rougemont. Tyler Dunn and Jordon Tyson, both of Ayden; Robert Fann and Brittany Tew Fann, both of Salemburg; Curtis Godwin of Dunn; and Kristal Jones and Will Sheldon Strickland, both of Mt. Olive; Jed Spain of Plymouth; Justin Williams of Goldsboro; and Spencer Davis of Wilson.
The following participants included business and agency personnel: Shannon Parker of Four Oaks, Alex Sereno and Sandy 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 NCSU 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.