In 1895, The State referred to tobacco as “the pearl of the Pee Dee,” a reference depictive of the region’s tobacco crop’s economic contributions to the state.
In fact, the Pee Dee region planted 95 percent of the state’s tobacco crop acreage in 1900, according to the Pee Dee Heritage Center in Hartsville.
By 1950, South Carolina’s tobacco crops were still strong statewide. That year, the state harvested 114,000 acres of tobacco with a production value of more than $81.7 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But fast forward to this year: the state’s 14,300 acres will bring in just over $27 million, the USDA said.
Tobacco farming statewide has been on the decline for years – chiefly because fewer people are smoking. The $10 billion buyout of tobacco farmers and quota holders in 2005 as part of the termination of the federal tobacco price support program also contributed to the crop’s decline statewide, as have taxed cigarette pack sales.