Photo of a tobacco hornwormPhoto or rows of tobaccoPhoto of a tobacco seedlingPhoto of Agricultural Extension Demonstration tobacco

Tobacco in Entomology and Botany

Tobacco and Entomology at NC State Photos of a tobacco hornworm and of  farmers and an agent inspecting tobacco for  pests.

Hornworms, wireworms, cutworms, aphids, budworms, weevils—these and other pests Photo of person working with tobacco in a labhave continuously plagued North Carolina tobacco farmers and their crops. In the last century, thanks to research conducted on the campus of NC State and in extension laboratories throughout the state, entomologists and farmers have worked together to identify the problems, assess the damages, and Tobacco Insect Controlimplement controls on the injurious insects that hinder tobacco production. In the 1889 announcement book for the new College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, the entry for the "Horticulture, Arboriculture and Botany" department listed "the study of insect pests of all kinds, both in agriculture and horticulture, and the best way to deal with them" as an imperative course for new students. Control of tobacco pests has continued to be an important pursuit on campus, through organizations such as the North Carolina Tobacco Foundation and the various programs of the Cooperative Extension Service.

Color image of a tobacco plant Botany and Tobacco at NC State

Tobacco, one of the most prominent crops grown by natives of North Carolina in Drawing of tobacco flowers and leaves the 1500's, has intrigued botanists ever since their first encounter with what they called the "divine herb." "Turner's North Carolina Almanac"Materials collected by George Arents and now housed in the New York Public Library show that European scientists began applying their techniques of classification as soon as they were introduced to the bewitching new plant. At NC State, researchers in plant pathology and crop science have worked to develop stronger crops and target the diseases that have attacked tobacco throughout the years. Their efforts have helped farmers weather debilitating economic and environmental conditions to produce higher-yielding crops and, in turn, have played a significant part in establishing tobacco as the highest grossing crop in North Carolina.