Farm Press Blog

Overflow crowd attends North Carolina field day


Table of Contents:

• 43rd Blacklands Farm Managers Tour draws huge crowd in eastern North Carolina.

• Blacklands Tour and Northeast Ag Expo set the standard for field days.

• Program content a big draw for North Carolina farmers and agri-business leaders.

Beaufort County, North Carolina Extension Coordinator Rod Gurganus stepped to the microphone at last week’s Blacklands Farm Managers Tour and gave the message every Extension agent in America would like to give.

To paraphrase: “The crowd is huge, we don’t have enough wagons to get everyone to the field, but we’ll get you there, even if some of us have to walk.”

And, walk we did, literally hundreds of us, most shunning the covered wagon pulled by trucks and tractors. The weather was great, the fellowship was rewarding and the exercise no doubt did us all some good.

At the end of the day, the 43rd annual Blackland Farm Managers Tour was the biggest in recent memory. Not only was it big in scope, but it was big in timely information, delivered by an array of state and county Extension leaders.

On this day it didn’t matter whether corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat — even grain sorghum was at the top of the list, because there was good information on all those crops and more.

Galen Ambrose wasn’t in charge of this year’s tour — the first time in a long time, but his legacy remained. Galen retired a while back from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, having worked on many of the 43 annual tours.

His replacement, Rod Gurganus, is significantly ‘shorter in the tooth’ than Galen, but comes armed with a bevy of old and new communication tools, including tweets, blogs and likely others that I don’t know about. The combination of word of mouth all the way to social media had a positive effect on farmers and agri-business leaders in the black lands of eastern North Carolina — they came out in the hundreds.

Likely, the real key was all the time and hard work an army of folks put in to get research plots just right and to identify timely topics and well-respected state and county Extension leaders to deliver comments.

By the time opening ceremonies began, the crowd had already far exceeded the capacity of the spacious equipment shed provided by host farmers Clay and Charly Respess.

The field day consisted of three stops, each packed with big hitters, from North Carolina State, like Ronnie Heiniger and Jim Dunphy, even a guest appearance by Virginia Tech Soybean Specialist David Holshouser. Some of the lesser known county agricultural leaders, like Frank Winslow and Lance Grimes got plenty of attention because of their knowledge of challenges particular to farmers in the blacklands of eastern North Carolina.

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