Four young Johnston County farmers, Jordan Boyette of Clayton, Spencer Blake Davis of Wilson, Loren Thornton of Four Oaks, and Justin Williams of Goldsboro, were among 34 participants who completed an NC State Tobacco Short Course recently .
Boyette, a 2011 graduate of N.C. State University with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture and environmental systems, farms with his father and brother.
Boyette Farms is growing 150 acres of tobacco this season, along with small grains, wheat, milo, corn and soybeans. The partners also have a 15-cow purebred Angus cattle enterprise that they started 10 years. ago.
Davis, a 2012 NCSU graduate has a bachelor of science degree in biological and agricultural engineering and will be farming for the first time with his father. The family’s farming operation will include 120 acres of flue-cured tobacco this season and will also grow soybeans, corn, wheat and oats.
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Thornton farms full time with his father, and brother. He also holds a bachelor of science degree from NCSU. This season, the family farming operation will grow 80 acres of tobacco, along with sweet potatoes, wheat and soybeans. They also have nursery hog operation.
Williams, a 2011 graduate of NCSU with a bachelor of science degree in biological and agricultural engineering, is now farming with his father and grandfather. The Williams family will grow about 240 acres of tobacco this season as well as soybeans, wheat and sorghum. They also have two turkey brooder houses under contract to Goldsboro Milling Co.
During the week, which coincided with the Southern Farm Show and the annual meeting of the Tobacco Growers Association. of North Carolina, the young farmers attended workshops and other events aimed at helping them better understand all facets of tobacco production and marketing.
They traveled 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 Tony Jones, a young tobacco grower who farms land in Wayne, Sampson and Duplin counties. Jones is constructing bulk barns on his farm to share with other farmers.
“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,” said Dr. Bill Collins, a retired state tobacco extension specialist and coordinator of the short course program. Collins says the participants in the group collectively plan to grow more than 6,000 acres of flue-cured and burley tobacco this season.