For many years, Georgia’s tobacco industry has been declining. And this year looked to be its lowest point. But demand for U.S. tobacco in Asia has given Georgia tobacco farmers what could be a much-needed lift.

Georgia farmers recently finished planting what is expected to total 14,000 acres of tobacco, 2,000 acres more than last year, said J. Michael Moore, a tobacco agronomist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The bump in acreage is a surprise, he said, considering Phillip Morris USA, a major buyer, decided to stop doing business with Georgia tobacco farmers last year, allowing contracts to expire. Several other companies had already cut contracts before last year.

Because of this, farmers were expected to plant closer to 9,000 acres of tobacco in Georgia this year, he said. This would have been the lowest acreage in Georgia since 1918, when farmers grew 7,000 acres, according to Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service records.