Smithfield Herald

March 10, 2014

Johnston tobacco growers complete course at N.C. State

A changing tobacco industry makes it important that young farmers learn the value of quality.

Three Johnston County farmers – Lee and Sydney Edwards Dunn of the Corinth Holders community and Michael Gregory of Four Oaks – have completed the 2014 N.C. State Tobacco Short Course in Raleigh. Also taking the class was Travis Lassiter of Four Oaks, a research technician at the Central Crops Research Station near Clayton.

The Edwards couple, who were married last fall, will be farming with Sydney’s father, Randy Edwards of Lake Wendell Farming Co., located in northwest Johnston County. In 2014, the young couple will help Edwards grow 700 acres of flue-cured tobacco.

Gregory has been growing tobacco with his father, Joe Gregory, for 20 years. He also farms with Tommy McLamb, who manages D&T Farms in southern Johnston County. Gregory will work with his father and McLamb to grow more than 300 acres of flue-cured tobacco in 2014.

Lassiter has worked at the Central Crops Research Station for 15 years. He is assistant manager of the field crops unit, which includes tobacco research.

The short course participants took part in educational programs aimed at helping them better understand all facets of tobacco production and marketing. Topics ranged from greenhouse production of seedling plants to harvesting tobacco ready for market.

The group also spent a day touring three tobacco-related facilities in Eastern North Carolina. They were the Universal Leaf Processors plant near Nashville, AVOCA Farm at Merryville and Global Laboratory Services Inc. in Wilson.

“Since our industry faces continuous change, we need to make sure our younger farmers, their advisers and other allied industry representatives are able to focus on how to attain efficient, quality tobacco production,” said Dr. Bill Collins, coordinator of the Tobacco Short Course program. “The young tobacco growers in the short course plan to grow thousands of acres of flue-cured and burley tobacco in the state this year.”

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