Tobacco Crops

Crop experts predict Georgia tobacco farmers will see better yields this season thanks to abundant spring rainfall.

Last year, the tomato spotted wilt virus, a fatal plant disease, damaged about 30 percent of Lowndes County's tobacco plants. Farmers feel the virus infestation had something to do with the state's drought conditions.

“This time last year, you know a lot of farmers with half of their stand lost with tomato wilt virus, some even worse than that,” says Fred Wetherington.

The crop looks much healthier this year than from last year's. This season, less than two percent are damaged by the disease. Thanks to recent rains, experts predict tobacco farmers are going to see better yields this season, but some say it might be too soon to tell.

“You never know until it's harvested, the potential to have a real crop if we have a favorable from here on out.”

Where as the favorable growing conditions is a good morale builder for the farmers, it could cause concerns for the state's anti- smoking groups.

Fred Wetherington, a tobacco grower, says that they should understand that the farmers are just trying to make a living.

“They say they don't have nothing against us, it's the final product that they have a problem with and of course them two collide naturally, but I don't think they wish us any harm,” says Fred.

Georgia Gov. Perdue pushed for a 46 cents tax increase per cigarette pack, but only a quarter was passed by state legislatures.