William Kerr Collins Sr

William Kerr Collins Sr. was born on a flue-cured tobacco farm in the Old Belt region of North Carolina, USA. He has Bachelor of Science and Master of Science. degrees from North Carolina State University (NCSU), and he worked four years in the Tobacco Variety Evaluation Program.

His Master of Science thesis formed the basis for the minimum standards variety release program, which has been in place since 1963. He received a doctorate in crop breeding from Iowa State University in the corn breeding program, worked three years as an agronomist for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and in 1966 became a faculty member at NCSU, where he has remained since.

He was a tobacco extension specialist for 20 years and taught a tobacco production course to more than 1,000 students during this period. He has visited the tobacco production areas of 44 countries and understands the implications of international agricultural competition.

He was associate head and/or acting head of the crop science department in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for eight years. In 1994, he became the coordinator of tobacco programs in the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service and held that title for 13 years.

Collins was an advocate for growing flue-cured tobacco for the mechanization era when the labor required for producing one acre of tobacco in 1965 was 650 hours, as compared to the current 50 hours. During this period, yields increased from about 1,500 pounds per acre to 3,000 pounds per acre.

Collins is the co-author of  Principles of Flue-Cured Tobacco Production, a book that has been published in five languages.