A young Johnston County tobacco farm couple, Lee and Sydney Edwards Dunn of Wendell, and another young tobacco grower, Michael Gregory of Four Oaks, recently participated in a week long, 2014 N.C. State Tobacco Short Course in Raleigh. Also participating in the event was Travis Lassiter, of Four Oaks, a research technician at the Central Crops Research Station at Clayton.
The Edwards couple, who were married last fall, will be farming with Sydney’s father, Randy Edwards on Lake Wendell Farming Co., located in northwest Johnston County. In 2014, the young couple will help Edwards in growing 700 acres of flue-cured tobacco.
Gregory has been farming with his father, Joe Gregory, growing tobacco for twenty years. He also farms with Tommy McLamb, who manages the D & T Farms operation in southern Johnston Co. Gregory will work with his father and McLamb to grow more than 300 acres of flue-cured tobacco in 2014.
Lassiter has served for 15 years at the Central Crops Research Station, most recently as the assistant manager of the field crops unit, which includes tobacco research.
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During the week, which coincided with the Southern Farm Show and the Tobacco Growers of North Carolina’s Annual Meeting, the short course participants took part in the educational program aimed at helping them better understand all facets of tobacco production and marketing.
During the Tobacco Short Course, 35 tobacco growers and advisors were schooled in two days of classroom studies on everything from greenhouse production of seedling plants to harvesting tobacco ready for market. Instructors in the short course included NC State Extension specialists in agricultural economics, agronomy, biological and agricultural engineering, crop science, entomology and plant pathology.
The group also spent a day touring three tobacco-related industry facilities in eastern North Carolina. They included 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 advisors, and other allied industry representatives are able to focus on how to attain efficient, quality tobacco production,” said Dr. Bill Collins, the retired director of the N.C. State tobacco extension programs and 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."
The 2014 NC State Tobacco Short Course was conducted by the North Carolina Tobacco Foundation in partnership with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University with a grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Research Commission with funds from the 10 cents per hundred pounds of tobacco sold via a self-assessment paid at the point-of-sale.