RALEIGH — A young Bladen County tobacco grower, Paul Skinner of Bladenboro, recently participated in the week-long, 2014 N.C. State Tobacco Short Course in Raleigh.
Skinner has farmed with his father for five years, and in 2014, Paul Skinner Farms plans to grow 12 acres of flue-cured tobacco.
During the week-long event, which coincided with the Southern Farm Show and the Tobacco Growers Association 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 the classroom on everything from greenhouse production of seedling plants to harvesting tobacco ready for market. 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.
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,” says Bill Collins, the retired director of N.C. State tobacco extension programs and coordinator of the Tobacco Short Course program. He added, “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 N.C. 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-cent per 100 pounds of tobacco sold via a self-assessment paid at the point-of-sale.