Had this year’s Blackland Farm Managers Tour gone on as scheduled on the first Wednesday of August as in years past, special festivities would have taken place to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Blackland Farm Managers Association and the tour.
But due to the coronavirus pandemic, folks had to turn to YouTube instead of loading the trailers at the Coastal Carolina Gin near Pantego, N.C., to check out the research plots and hear presentations from North Carolina State University scientists.
The 50th anniversary festivities will have to wait until the first Wednesday of August next year when the tour is set to be held at Coastal Carolina Gin near Pantego.
Indeed, there will be much to celebrate. The Blackland Farm Managers Association is a unique public-private partnership of farmers working in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, North Carolina State and North Carolina Extension in cutting edge research. It was formed in 1970 with the objective of finding ways to better manage the high organic soils on North Carolina’s Blacklands so they could reach their full potential.
In a YouTube video, Jeff Sparks, president of the Blackland Managers Association, noted that the farmland in Beaufort, Hyde , Tyrrell and Washington counties in coastal North Carolina is considered some of the most productive in the world, but farmers couldn’t get the crops to respond like they needed to so the Blackland Farm Managers Association was formed to address the challenges.
“We have people come here from other universities and say we don’t have anything like this in Illinois or Kentucky or Indiana, so we are very proud of that,” Sparks said in the YouTube video.
There is a certain mystique to the Blacklands of North Carolina. It has the feel of both Iowa corn country and the Mississippi Delta set in the beauty of coastal North Carolina. Without a doubt, its rich dark soils are legendary while the farmers that tend the land are among the best in the world.
“Early on we learned that micronutrients are vital in getting things to produce around here. We went from growing 50-bushel corn back then (when the Blackland Farm Managers Association was formed in 1970) to now when we are producing upwards of 300-bushel corn in good years,” Sparks said in the YouTube video.
This is just one success of the research partnership formed 50 years between farmers, Extension and crop scientists in North Carolina’s Blacklands. There will be much to celebrate at next year’s Blacklands Farm Managers Tour