Two Johnston County brothers, two other young farmers and a farm manager recently completed the 2015 N.C. State Tobacco Short Court in Raleigh.
Jonathan Barbour of Willow Spring is field-crops supervisor at the Central Crops Research Station near Clayton. His younger brother, Jason, grows tobacco with their father, Michael, on Barbour Farms near Four Oaks.
Blake Thompson of Smithfield has been growing tobacco with his father, Steven Ray Thompson, for four years. Chance Thornton of Newton Grove has been growing tobacco in Johnston County with his father, Keith Thornton, and brother, Loren, for five years.
Bryan Salmons of Clayton is a farm manager for Barnes Farming Corp. of Nash County. He has been overseeing tobacco production for the large farming operation since joining the firm a year ago.
During the Tobacco Short Course, 38 participants took part in two days of classroom studies on everything from greenhouse production of seedling plants to curing leaf ready for market. The group also spent a day touring several tobacco-related companies and organizations in Eastern North Carolina.
“Since the tobacco 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, co-director of the Tobacco Short Course. Instructors in the short course included N.C. State Extension specialists in agricultural economics, agronomy, biological and agricultural engineering, crop science, entomology and plant pathology.