Two Johnston County young farmers, Austin Benson and Hunter Langdon, participated in the 2016 NC State Tobacco Short Course, a week-long event held recently in Raleigh.
Benson has been farming with his father, Randy Benson for two years at Benson Farms of Willow Spring. Last year the father-son team grew 185 acres of flue-cured tobacco.
Langdon, a 2014 graduate of NC State, has been farming for two years in partnership with his father, John. In 2005, Hunter Langdon grew 10 acres of organic flue-cured tobacco.
Johnston Co. native Terri Stutts, a farm loan officer with Southern Bank in Wilson, and Daniel Williams, a research technician at the Central Crops Research Station at Clayton, also participated in the course.
During the Tobacco Short Course, 44 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 participating in a flue-cured tobacco grading session.
“Since the tobacco 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 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. USDA-AMS Tobacco Training Specialist Bobby F. Wellons, a Johnston Co. native, taught the day-long tobacco grading session, which was offered for the first time at the request of growers who had concerns about the grading of their 2015 flue-cured crop.