With water woes abounding, we don't hear a lot of good news regarding bumper crops. However, I am here today to report that Bulloch County does have an historical bumper crop - tobacco.
According to Bob Brannen, a legendary tobacco farmer in this area, this is the best tobacco crop that he has seen in his lifetime, and probably the most unexpected.
"I am 69 years old, and I have never seen anything like this," Brannen said. "We literally planted this crop in dust, field ash. You are always hopeful, but it was near drought conditions last April, and we just planted and crossed our fingers."
Brannen said some of the tobacco fields in the area are irrigated, but the vast majority aren't and are referred to as "dry" farmed.
"There isn't a lot of irrigation, so you have to depend on Mother Nature to provide the rain," he said. "Each time the crop was sure to fail, we got just the right amount of rain. Barry came and dropped an inch and an eighth of rain, and that was just perfect. Then in June we got another good rain, and so forth. The timing was unbelievable."
Brannen said the five county area of Bulloch, Candler, Jenkins, Screven, and Bryan has the best tobacco crop it has seen in the last 50 years in both quality and yield per acre.
"They say it takes three to three and half inches of rain to produce a good crop of tobacco," he said. "That is exactly what we got over the growing season, and this tobacco is just unbelievable."
In addition to quantity and quality, Brannen said he doesn't believe that tobacco has ever been harvested and sold this late in the year in Bulloch County before.
"Normally we plant in April and begin harvesting and selling right after the fourth of July. Tobacco that was irrigated came on the market then, but the tobacco that wasn't irrigated came on really, really late. We have a sale next week. This is new to all of us."
Brannen said the yield this year in the five county area he mentioned is very unusual among southeastern tobacco farmers.
"The tobacco growers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, and other parts of Georgia, do not have near the crop that we do because of the drought. This little area got just the right amount of rain at the right time. It was kind of a fluke, I guess."
Until next week, I bid you au revoir.
Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org