Participants from throughout the Southeast were recently welcomed to the Roosevelt and Travis Dicks Farm in Lake City. The tour was led by Dr. Jay Michael Moore, Extension Agronomist from University of Georgia. After stops in Georgia, the group looked at crops and research plots in Hamilton, Suwannee, and Columbia counties. UF/IFAS Columbia County Agronomy Extension Agent Mace Bauer welcomed the group to Columbia County. Travis Dicks is the last remaining tobacco grower in Columbia, a county with a rich history in the tobacco industry. Changes in the industry, and production challenges have resulted in only a handful of farmers left in North Florida growing tobacco commercially. An important reason for the tour stop was to see the test plots where thirteen varieties were being grown in a production setting. Dr. Moore said, “Roosevelt and Travis always do an excellent job not only growing tobacco, but they take care to handle the variety trial carefully, gathering accurate yield and quality information that is used throughout the industry.” Agronomy Agent Mace Bauer goes to the farm frequently to look around and add an extra set of eyes to look for problems. “Travis is very appreciative when I come out and look around, searching for potential problems such as insects or disease.” The crop looks very good at this time, as it did last year during the tour. However, it looked great last year until Tropical Storm Debbie came through in Late June, virtually destroying the crop. Travis said, “The crop looks very good at this time. Except for the freeze on March 27-28, we have had a good season. It was dry when we needed to be in the field working, and wet when we needed the rain. Last year we had an excellent crop until we lost it in the storm. You just never know what you have until you get it in the barn.”
Originally published in the Lake City Reporter, June 25, 2013.