Wednesday, September 3, 2014

EARLY AUCTION SALES DISAPPOINT FLUE GROWERS

All eyes were on the flue-cured auctions when they began in late August. At this live auction at the Old Belt Warehouse in Rural Hall, N.C., on August 26, leaf sold for an average of $1.10 per pound.


Prices were low at the first auction of the season at Old Belt Tobacco Sales at Rural Hall, N.C., on August 26. About 125,000 pounds (out of 200,000 offered) sold in the range of $1.10 per pound, with a practical top of $1.50. This was way below the average of 2013, and there was considerable tag tearing. The next sale at Old Belt (phone 336 416 6262) will take place 10 a.m. on September 9. Big M Warehouse of Wilson, N.C., (phone 919 496 9033) will hold a sealed bid auction Wednesday, September 3, at 10 a.m. Carolinas Tobacco Auctions of Lake City, S.C., (phone 843 687 5753) and Piedmont Warehouse, Danville, Va., (phone 434 203 1404) may be holding auctions soon also. Call for details.

 
Late-season rain lowers eastern North Carolina flue-cured prospects? Industry projections of production has declined steadily since a month ago. One of the more conservative estimates comes from Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist, who tells Tobacco Farmer Newsletter he now thinks N.C. may produce 400 million pounds of flue-cured and the flue-cured belt as a whole might produce 500 million pounds or a little more. Vann's estimate is the lowest I've heard from my regular sources, but all are lower than they were a month ago...Why the reduced expectations? Heavy rain in Eastern N.C. "We probably lost 25 to 30 percent of our crop because of excessive water the last three weeks," said grower Allen Wooten of Pender County, N.C. His farm near Wilmington is quite close to the coast. In Pitt County, N.C., a little farther inland, excessive rainfall has reduced yield expectations from 2,400 pounds per acre to around 2,000 pounds (see TFN, August II issue). "Some areas of the Coastal Plain have had as much rain as last year," says Vann.

Glden Eagle II
Running out of frost-free days? Eastern Belt farmers are facing the very real prospect of not finishing harvest before first frost. In Newton Grove in eastern N.C., Phil Hudson says the crop in his areas is running 10 to 14 days late. "It's Labor Day already and we have just started the second harvest in north Sampson County!" he says. In cen-tral N.C., Don Nicholson, N.C. Department of Agri-culture agronomist who works in Harnett, John-ston, Wake, Wayne and Wilson Counties, says, "The tobacco crop in some parts of the region looks very good in both yield and quality. However, some areas have had too much rain and the crop is fading quickly, putting a lot of pressure on curing space."

 
Some not yet primed in Old Belt: In the Winston-Salem, N.C., area, Vann says some of the flue-cured has yet to be primed the first time. That was what TFN found on a visit to Mark Smitherman's farm near Forbush, N.C. On August 26, he was stripping the last of the leaf from about a fourth of his tobacco. The rest hadn't been harvested at all. In East Bend, N.C., Harnett Extension agent Brian Parrish says, "Tobacco is ripening, and many growers are concerned about the availability of barn capacity. Wet conditions have  stressed  tobacco,  with 
Flue-cured grower Mark Smitherman of Forbush, N.C., strips a fourth of his crop on August 26. The rest hadn't been primed the first time.
plants yellowing and wilting as Granville wilt sets in." In Granville County, N.C., "Flue-cured harvest is still running pretty slow due to wet field conditions and the fact that the plants are still pretty green, says Paul Westfall, County Extension agent. In the northern N.C. Piedmont, Hester Vernon of Milton (near Danville, Va.) says his flue-cured looks very good. He grows burley also and that looks good too. "We are harvesting now," he says...In Virginia, about a quarter of the flue-cured crop had been harvested by August 25, according to the NASS, compared to the five-year average of 33 percent.


 
A late but good crop in S.C.: In South Carolina, Kyle Daniel, Extension agent in Georgetown County, said in the USDA Crop Progress Report dated August 25, "Tobacco producers are working hard to get this crop finished up by the end of next week. The crop is much later than normal but it is a good crop." The report said tobacco harvest statewide was 88 percent complete by the 25th, which is somewhat ahead of the five-year average. In Georgia, according to the same report, only 63 percent of the crop had been harvested, less than the five-year average of 69 percent.

 
Roughly 50 percent of Kentucky burley has been harvested, say Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "We are just a little behind schedule. We have had challenges with the weather getting it harvested. In some cases mud has been splashed upon the leaves. Not much has been cured yet." He expects issues with houseburn. "It has been wetter than normal,"he says.

 
Blue mold has appeared on burley in eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia and on shade and broadleaf tobacco in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Burley Extension specialists recommend that if you haven't topped yet or have just topped, consider a fungicidal spray.

 
In southwest Virginia, Danny Peek, Virginia District Extension director in Abingdon, says burley harvest is going full speed now. "Overall, the Virginia burley crop looks really good. We have had enough rain to keep the crop growing. Some areas have received a lot of rain, and there has been some bacterial hollow stalk as a result. This crop should weigh good if we can get it in the barn. But we have a labor shortage, and farmers are nervous about finishing barning in a timely manner." It had been feared back in the spring that there wouldn't be enough plants. It looked like there would be a shortage, but everyone seems to have gotten what they needed, and the plants were of good quality.

 
Some late-planted burley in east Tennessee hasn't been topped yet either, says Eric Walker, Extension tobacco specialist. But this tobacco is coming along well, he says. In Macon County, near Nashville, harvest is about 40 percent complete. The dark crop is much farther along, and Walker has visited one dark farm which will be taking down its first crop soon, perhaps this week...A hail storm two weeks ago in east Tennessee badly damaged the burley at the Research and Education Center in Greeneville, Tn. Rob Ellis, center director, says the hall was spotty and may not have done too much damage in the big burley producing county of Greene. "My feeling is that overall the tobacco in this area is average to above average."

 
A new manager: The Burley Stabilization Corporation has appointed Craig Easterly, a veteran tobacco buyer, as Greenville, Tn., area manager, responding to increased activity at the cooperative's receiving station there.



I hope you have enjoyed Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. If you haven't signed on to receive it regularly or need to change an address, please click on "Join our mailing list" and follow the prompts. 

For more information, call me at 919-789-4631 or email me at chris bickers@gmail.com. Thanks --Chris Bickers
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 ADVERTISING


BIG M TOBACCO WAREHOUSE 
1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse
Greg Goins is the auctioneer at Big M Warehouse.
We will hold both sealed bid auctions
and live auctions. 
We promise 
HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY 
SERVICE
We will be GAP certified 
For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.




TMI


Old Belt Tobacco Sales


Tytun rated 1




Thursday, August 14, 2014

PRODUCTION REMAINS A MYSTERY

Field work on a flue-cured farm near Wilson, N.C., on August 6.


The troubling question of how large the U.S. flue-cured and burley crops will turn out to be remains unanswered. The pot was stirred a little more on Tuesday when USDA issued its first all-type projection of the year. Its estimate for flue-cured was slightly lower than in July--531 million pounds instead of 536--but still 17 percent over last year.

But there is less skepticism about USDA's flue-cured projection. One dealer told TFN that the crop could exceed USDA's expectations. "It is a barn buster. It could well reach 550 million pounds. Unless there is a disaster, I don't see how the market is going to absorb it all. I would expect the price for the excess to get down perhaps to 2010 levels." One factor that could affect production: There may not be enough barn space to cure a crop in the half billion pound range.

Flue-cured contracting may have amounted to 460 million pounds, the dealer says. "If we produced just 490 million pounds, every pound would be sold," he says. "But 50 or 75 million more than that? I don't know."

For burley, the USDA estimate is 201 million pounds, up four percent from last year. That seems questionable in light of reports from burley country of intense drought. Daniel Green, c.e.o. of Burley Stabilization Corporation in Springfield, Tn., told TFN, "It has been really dry over the last seven or eight weeks. Rainfall has been well below normal, 
Gold Eagle II
although we have gotten some rain in the last few days. The tobacco is yellowing up and losing leaves from the bottom of the stalk." The situation has had an impact on the yield. "Our original estimate for the crop was 195 million pounds. Now, we might be looking at 185 million. If this dry weather continues, we are going to have a lot of yellow leaf. The color will be variegated." But recent rain could turn things around. "It was enough to allow many growers to let the early tobacco stay in the field to mature and 'body up' a bit more before they cut," says Green. "But much of the later crop was too weather stressed to improve much."


State by state USDA projections: Flue-cured (projected production and change from last season): NC--416.3 million pounds, up 15 percent; GA-- 32.2 million pounds, up 43 percent; SC--31.5 million pounds, up 27 percent; VA--50.6 million pounds, up seven percent. Burley: KY--153.3 million pounds, up three percent; TN--22.4 million pounds, up nine percent; PA--12.75 million pounds, no change; VA--4.875 million pounds, up slightly; OH--4.4 million pounds, down slightly; NC--3.06 million pounds, up 15 percent.

What USDA projects for smaller types: Fire-cured--48.89 million pounds, down slightly. Dark air-cured--14.47 million pounds, up five percent. Cigar types--9.5 million pounds, up 21 percent. Southern Mary-land--4.6 million pounds, down slightly.

In Tennessee's largest burley county, the tobacco burley had been suffering from heat and drought, but there was a little relief earlier this week. Steve Walker, Macon County Extension director, says, "We got a good rain Monday and early Tuesday, about three inches, and that will help. But some later-set tobacco is already beyond help. Some of it is blooming at waist height." Harvest has started, he added. Yield has definitely been reduced.

A lot better dark crop than few days ago: Much of the Black Patch got rain from last Thursday till Monday, says Andy Bailey, Kentucky-Tennessee Extension dark tobacco specialist stationed in Princeton, Ky. "We would have had to start watering this week," he says. "Now harvesting can get going." He says less than five percent of the crop has been cut. 

One of the best-looking flue-cured crops in a long time in Halifax County, Va., says Chris Brown, the county's tobacco Extension agent. "The rainfall pattern has been almost perfect except for one stretch when it fell too heavy and we got some compaction. But we have had steady rainfall since." He added that it is going to be late maturing. One fourth to one third of the ground leaves have been pulled. He thinks the county average will be around 2,800 pounds, and maybe 3,000 pounds.

The rainfall had been ideal for a good crop in Pitt County, N.C., up until a few weeks ago, says Mitch Smith, county Extension director. "But since then, we have had excessive rainfall that has really taken a toll on the crop. Our tobacco is taking on a banana yellow color. Usually we hope for a 2,400 pound county average, but it is looking more like 2,000 pounds." One full harvest has been made, and farmers are having problems curing the lowerstalk leaf, he says. "We try to remove as much water as we can without setting green on the lowerstalk." Pitt County is in Eastern N.C.

A better than average flue-cured crop is coming off in in Georgia and Florida, says J. Michael Moore, Extension specialist for the two states. "Harvest is well under way, and the best tobacco is still in the field. We will be harvesting till well into October." Most lowerstalk tobacco has been harvested, and in Florida, some farmers are already stripping.

Weeds and grasses seemed worse than ever in Georgia. "The wet spring in Georgia resulted in an exceptionally heavy germination of weed seeds and a heavy population of weeds to plague the 2014 tobacco crop," Moore says. A timely application of Poast herbicide can control escaped grass prior to the final cultivation. An application of Aim following the first harvest can assist in controlling newly emerging broadleaf weed seedlings. This application can be made with spray tips attached behind the harvester defoliators and directed toward the top of the bed or using spray hoods suspended from a high clearance sprayer. "Weeds and grass that escape control using herbicides and cultivation require the use of a hoe or must be pulled when they are small," Moore says.

How to sell flue-cured that isn't covered by a contract: Three auction warehouses have informed TFN that they will begin flue-cured auctions in the next two weeks. A fourth will begin in September. Details follow. (Watch these pages for burley auction opening dates as soon as they are available.)
  • August 20--Big M Tobacco Warehouse, 1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C. Format: Sealed bid (Live auctions will be conducted later in the season). Contact: Mann Mullen  at 919 496 9033.
  • August 21--Carolinas Tobacco Auctions, 662 So. Ron McNair Blvd., Lake City, S.C. Format: Silent. Live auctions will be conducted later).Contact: Jimmy Lynch at 843 687 5753.
  • August 26--Old Belt Tobacco Sales warehouse, 1395 Old Belt Way, Rural Hall, N.C. Format: Live. Contact: Dennis White at 336 416 6262.
  • September (Date to be announced)--Piedmont Warehouse, 301 Trade St., Danville, Va.  Format: Silent.  Contact: T.Y. Mason at  434 203 1404. 
DATES TO REMEMBER
  • August 25, 9 a.m. Cross Creek Seed Field Day, Tull Hill Farm, 2264 Hugo Rd., Kinston, N.C.



BIG M TOBACCO WAREHOUSE 
1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse
Greg Goins is the auctioneer at Big M Warehouse.
We will hold both sealed bid auctions
and live auctions. 
We promise 
HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY 
SERVICE
We will be GAP certified 
For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.




 



 CM Setter now no.1 in the tobacco belt



Tytun rated 1



Old Belt Tobacco Sales



TMI

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Why a bin-busting flue-cured crop may be on the way



Welcome to the August I issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. If you haven't signed on to receive it regularly or need to change an address, please click on "Join our mailing list" and follow the prompts. Want to talk? call me at 919 789 4631 or email at chrisbickers@gmail.com. Thanks--Chris Bickers
Join Our Mailing List




Is a bitter pill waiting for flue-cured growers? Excess production could result in lower returns. Harvest--as in this file photo of a field near Salemburg, N.C.--is well under way.
Could a bitter pill await flue-cured growers? Excess production could lead to a sharply lower price. Above: Mechanical harvest near Salemburg, N.C.


IS THE FLUE-CURED CROP
TOO MUCH FOR DEMAND?

It is just speculation at this point but some reliable sources tell me that the USDA projection of a 536 million pound flue-cured crop--as opposed to 454 million in 2013--may not be unrealistic at all: The crop may just be that good. One source told me that unless there is a yield-reducing storm, we might be looking at a substantial over-production of bright leaf, perhaps even more than USDA projected. "The price could get pretty low," he says. "The companies seem to have gotten as much as they needed last season, and there is just nowhere for a large uncommitted production to go."

But one factor could help: As of August 1, the crop appears to be of very good quality, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "The quality is there," he says of the North Carolina crop. "It is a little more of an American style this season than last, when we saw more lemon style tobacco, which is a bit higher in sugar. This crop appears more orange." He says harvest has been going on in the Border Belt for about a month and is just starting in the Old Belt. 



Perhaps as many as a quarter of the growers in the Winston-Salem, N.C., area had started harvesting by August 1, says Dennis White, auction manager of the Old Belt Tobacco Sales warehouse in nearby Rural Hall. "Most of the rest will start next week." He thinks the Piedmont crop could potentially be the biggest since the buyout. "A lot of our tobacco got all the rain it's needed,"  he says. "The late crop had some moisture problems, but the heavy rains we are having now should help fill out the top."  Editor's Note:  White expects to begin auction sales on August 26. For more information, call 336 416 6262. In my next issue, I will publish opening dates and contact information for as many auctions as have set them.

Harvest is in full swing in South Carolina as the crop is beginning to ripen up the stalk, said Georgetown County Extension agent Kyle Daniel in a USDA survey. "Farmers are cropping everyday to keep pace with the crop as it matures by stalk position."


It is a different story in burley country: The crop has been suffering from extended dry weather. In east Tennessee, it  has really interfered with  plant growth on some farms. "Our tobacco bloomed at waist high instead of 
at shoulder high, and now it is a foot shorter than what we expect," says L.D. Simmons of Johnson City. This was caused by all the heat. "To tell the truth, I thought it


was going to die early on, but it survived. But the tobacco couldn't grow without any rain"...Parts of Tennessee had no rain at all in late May or in early June. "If you had to put your tobacco out in the midst of the heat, there were problems," says Joe Beeler, research associate at the University of Tennessee. "We saw some tobacco bloom early since it was under so much stress. And there were some serious problems with activation of Spartan and Command." But he has seen this more in northeast Tennessee than in north central Tennessee. "We have some really dry areas in Greene and Hawkins counties. But the tobacco in much of the state is doing okay." Beeler thinks burley acreage is similar to 2013....The USDA reported that through July 28, 54 percent of the burley crop in Kentucky  had reached the bloom stage, compared to the five-year average of 44 percent.



A new tobacco specialist in Tennessee: Eric Walker has been appointed the Volunteer State's new Extension tobacco specialist. Like his predecessor Paul Denton, who retired at the end of May 2013, Walker will spend part of his time working with Kentucky growers. He will be assisted by Joe Beeler, a research associate in plant science in Knoxville who has served for the last year and a half as the interim tobacco specialist. A native of Robertson County, Walker grew up on a fire-cured farm. He earned degrees from Austin Peay State University, the University of Tennessee and the University of Arkansas, and most recently taught plant science at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Heading for the Highlands: In a break with tradition, Walker will not be stationed in Knoxville. Instead, his office will be at the Highland Rim Experiment Station in Springfield, which is much closer to the production center of Tennessee tobacco. 

Despite a new executivethe U.S. Tobacco Cooperative is still short-handed. It recently promoted chief USTIC financial officer Stuart Thompson to the new post of chief executive officer, but Tommy Bunn, USTC president, said the coop-erative is still short handed. "We are looking for a new chief financial officer right now. We plan to have one in place in the next few weeks."

Is lemon leaf losinits appeal in China? "The demand [for U.S. leaf] from China has moved to leaf of more of a bright orange color as opposed to the lemon color that they were interested in when they first began buying here," says Bunn ... Pay out for producers: USTC paid its 2013 crop growers 21 cents a pound in patronage dividends in late July. This was the fourth consecutive year the cooperative has paid dividend. Tommy Bunn, USTC president, gave  credit  to the farmers. "Part of the reason for the dividends is the good job farmers have done in producing the quality tobacco that buyers want," he said. "They have been flexible in res-ponding to changes in market demand." A total of 889 growers shared in the $5.1 million payout.

DATES TO REMEMBER
  • August 4-5, Kentucky Tobacco Industry Tour. Contact: Bob Pearce, 859 257-5110.
  • August 7, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tobacco Twilight Tour, Murray State University West Farm, Murray, Ky. Contact: Andy Bailey, tobacco specialist, at 270-365-7541 ext. 240.

ADVERTISING




BIG M TOBACCO WAREHOUSE 
1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse
Greg Goins is the auctioneer at Big M Warehouse.
We will hold both sealed bid auctions
and live auctions. 
We promise 
HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY 
SERVICE
We will be GAP certified 
For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.


Tytun rated 1

Old Belt Tobacco Sales

TMI

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How much flue-cured is really out there?

Flue-cure harvest
A good flue-cured crop was coming out of the fields in mid-July (as in this photo taken near Hookerton, N.C.) But could it be as big as USDA projects? See below.


All indications are that we will have a big flue-cured crop. The NASS thinks it is going to be really big. On July 11, it projected flue-cured production at 536 million pounds, up 18 percent from 2013. Acreage was up only one percent at 232,000. For the individual states: NC--416.3 million pounds, up 15 percent, on 181,000 acres, up a little; VA--50.6 million pounds, up nearly seven percent, on 22,000 acres, up two percent; GA--35 million pounds, an unbelievable 56 per cent on 14,000 acres, up nine percent; SC--34.5 million pounds, up nearly 40 per cent, on 15,000 acres, up three percent. The highest state yield projection was 2,500 pounds in Georgia and 2,300 pounds in the other three states. Burley, dark and other types were not included in this report but will be in the one in August. Florida does not participate in the survey. 

A Georgia yield of 2,500 pounds would have been "toppy" even before the hot weather of three weeks ago and continuing appearances of black shank, says J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist. "Now it seems very unlikely," he says. New incidences of black shank keep appearing, frequently on land that
has been rotated, he adds. Varietal resistance hasn't helped much, perhaps because rain during and after transplanting injured the roots and allowed the black shank organism to bypass the resistance. 

A new era for NC tobacco: The long-awaited assessment on N.C. flue-cured finally became a reality on July 11. A referendum on the checkoff passed after a three-month balloting period. The assessment was approved on 88 percent of ballots in a mail-in referendum, considerably more than the two-thirds majority needed for approval. "The margin of support for this effort indicates the level of priority our farmers place on having a strong and organized voice to advocate on important issues," says TGANC President Tim Yarbrough of Prospect Hill, N.C. Buyers will collect the assessment and submit it to the N.C. Department of Agriculture for distribution to the association. Refunds can be obtained. A rate of up to 15 cents per hundred pounds of flue-cured sold in N.C. was approved, but TGANC plans to collect only 10 cents this year. Checkoff programs supporting tobacco research and export promotion in N.C. will continue.  

With the approval on the referendum, growers now have an official voice to speak for them, says Yarbrough. "We can present a united front. Of course, no association's members are going to agree on everything, but we need a method of responding to issues as they arise. Six months ago, who would have thought that child labor on tobacco farms would be an issue? But Graham Boyd [TGANC executive vice president] has had to spend a world of time on this issue lately and will have to spend more. We must make sure can act quickly when questions like this are asked. The checkoff will help make it possible." 

Long overdue: The statewide vote on a commodity promotion assessment for tobacco, the first ever in N.C., was long overdue. "Until now, tobacco was one of the few commodities in our state that didn't have a checkoff program to support its work," said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, himself a past TGANC board member. More details about the effect of the referendum will appear in future issues. 


Four hundred years of American leaf export: In 1614, the first tobacco exported from what is now the United States made its way by ship from Jamestown, Va., to England. To honor this anniversary, a presentation on how the international trade in tobacco began will be part of the program at the Virginia Tobacco Field Day on July 30 at the Southern Piedmont Research Center.  Wayne Randolph, an agriculture specialist at Colonial
Hand suckering, Colonial style, by costumed
reenactors at the Jamestown Settlement
living history park.
Williamsburg, will be the speaker. The fortieth anniversary of the station and the hundredth anniversary of the Extension Service--both taking place this year--will also be recognized in the program. It starts at 3:30 p.m. After dinner at 5 p.m., the participants will tour tobacco research plots at the station. For more information, call 434-292-5331 or email makenny @vt.edu
The station is about 1.5 miles east of Blackstone on Virginia Rt. 40 across from the Fort Pickett airport.  


DATES TO REMEMBER
  • July 30, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Virginia Tobacco Field Day (see above for details).
  • July 31, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Grains and Tobacco Field Day. UK REC, Princeton, Ky. Contact: 270-365-7541 ext 264.
  • August 4-5,  Kentucky Tobacco Industry Tour. Contact: Bob Pearce, 859 257-5110.
  • August 7, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tobacco Twilight Tour, Murray State University West Farm, Murray, Ky. Contact: Andy Bailey, tobacco specialist, at 270-365-7541 ext. 240.


BIG M TOBACCO WAREHOUSE 
1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse
Greg Goins is the auctioneer at Big M Warehouse.
We will hold both sealed bid auctions
and live auctions.
We promise 
HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY 
SERVICE

We will be GAP certified 

For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.



Tytun rated 1

Old Belt Tobacco Sales. 1395 Old Belt Way, Rural Hall, N.C. 27045. Call 336-969-6891.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

BLACK SHANK ISN'T BACKING OFF

July is for touring: The N.C. Tobacco Tour will begin July 14 in Wendell and finish July 15 at the Upper Coastal Plain Research Station, Rocky Mt. Above: A presentation at the Upper Coastal Plain station on the 2012 tour. See Dates to Remember for details of other tours.

REPORTS FROM THE FIELD, July 8, 2014

Burley in central Kentucky is doing well, says grower Roger Quarles of Georgetown, Ky. "It looks as good as you could ever want it to look," he says. "The early-set tobacco is a week or 10 days from topping, and the later-set looks good too." He said he hadn't heard of a single instance of black shank in the area, not even in fields that have been hotbeds for the disease in the past. He expects harvest to start around August 1. 

Topping has just started for dark growers in Kentucky and Tennessee. Planting appears to be done. "Some dark tobacco was set out on June 30 near Murray, Ky.," said Andy Bailey, Kentucky-Tennessee tobacco specialist. "I think that was the last that will be planted. A lot of our larger growers finished 10 to 12 days ago." No serious crop problems had developed. He saw some temporary phosphorus deficiency on some of the lower leaves, but he predicted that the plants would recover completely. There was no plant shortage. "I am not aware of anyone who didn't get enough plants," he says.

Just enough plants in TennesseeJay Head of Clarksville, Tn.,who grows dark tobacco and burley, also produces commercial plants. He thinks farmers in his area were able to locate the plants they needed. But it was close. "I sold the last plants I intended to sell on July 3," he says. "When we were done, we only had 100 trays left, out of about 6,000."

Hurricane Arthur only affected some coastal counties in North Carolina. In Pender County, 30 to 50 mile per hour winds did some damage, says Mark Seitz, Pender County Extension agent. But in general, he says, "Arthur's worst went north." Drought was more widely reported last week. "Tobacco is very stressed and drawn up," said Brian Parrish, Harnett County Extension agent, in an NASS report. "Many farmers are beginning to irrigate their tobacco." In the same report, Joey Knight, Caswell County Extension, said black shank is showing up in tobacco fields in his Piedmont county, especially in the 326 variety...A little harvesting has taken place in eastern N.C. Most farmers have applied a couple of contacts and are getting close to MH application, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. The supply of plants was adequate but some had to be brought in from out of state, he says. "But in the Piedmont, we heard of farmers having extra plants."

Some growers started harvesting in South Carolina last week, but most, at least in the Pee Dee region, are still topping. "Generally, the crop looks pretty good," says William Hardee, area Extension agronomy agent for Horry and Marion counties. "We have some tobacco that looks great around the Green Sea and Nichols area (near the North Carolina line). Some is chest high now." But other tobacco doesn't look so good. "Some looks like it was stunted by the heavy rainfall," Hardee says. There have been few problems. "I have seen a bit of tomato spotted wilt virus and a little bacterial wilt and black shank, but not much," he says.  

Extreme heat is making it difficult for Georgia and Florida growers to apply sucker control chemicals, says J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist for the two states. And that is not all that is making this crop difficult in the Deep South. "Heavy infestations of black shank continue to occur," Moore says. "We see plants melt down more quickly now than normal, again because of the heat." A curious note: "There's been extensive damage this season in fields that had reasonable rotations," says Moore. "And it doesn't seem to matter what the variety is." 

The four types grown in Pennsylvania all got off to a good start, says Jeff Graybill, Pa. agronomy Extension educator. "I would describe the condition of the tobacco crop as good to excellent," says Graybill, who is stationed in Lancaster. "We have good uniform stands, and I have had very few calls on disease issues." The supply of plants was tight, but Graybill says as far as he knows, no fields went unplanted. He estimates acreage at close to 9,000, a little more than last year. Burley accounted for more than 3,000 acres, Southern Maryland for about 3,000, Pennsylvania seedleaf around 2,500 and Green River dark air-cured perhaps 300 acres. Green River is still relatively new in Pennsylvania, but Graybill says farmers have been successful in producing marketable leaf of this type. 

OUTSIDE THE U.S...
Zimbabwe will exceed 200 million kilograms in sales for the first time in quite a while, if it hasn't already. Auction and contract markets in Zimbabwe are well on their way to selling the country's largest crop in 14 years, said the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) last month. TIMB said that 193.1 million kilograms had been sold at the country's three auction floors and at contract facilities through the eightieth day of marketing (June 16), 32 percent more than in the same period last year. At least 125 total sales days are expected. If daily sales average--as expected--a million kilograms a day, the total would come in at around 230 million kilograms. That would be short of the previous high of 260 million kilograms in 1998 but better than the 227 million kilograms of 2000, the last time volume exceeded 200 million. 

The Canadian flue-cured crop is up and growing, says Fred Neukamm, chairman of the Ontario tobacco board. "We are three to four weeks from topping," he says. "The crop is about on schedule, or maybe a few days behind. It is getting to the point that we could use some rain. Some growers are beginning to irrigate." Because of the cold and the cloudy weather experienced this winter, the plants didn't "toughen" in the greenhouse. "But in the field, the crop is not too bad, considering." Production is expected to be down slightly from 2013. "Both acreage and poundage are down by six percent, and two fewer growers contracted to grow tobacco this year," he says.

Ontario growers have benefited considerably since Grand River Enterprises (GRE) began selling leaf to China two years ago. The company, which processes leaf in a factory in Simcoe, Ont., is owned by the Six Nations Indian reservation, which is located on the edge of the Ontario leaf production area. GRE is now the number two buyer of Ontario leaf, after Alliance One. 

INDUSTRY NOTE
Who will own Lorillard? Or RJR? Or Santa Fe? The speculation has been rife in recent months about possible sales or mergers of cigarette companies neighboring or associated with RJR. A respected tobacco financial analyst has predicted that an acquisition of Lorillard by RJR is all but a sure thing. Bonnie Herzog of Wells Fargo Securities says she believes there is a 90 percent chance it will happen. She also thinks that such a deal could result in a sale or spinoff of RJR's subsidiary Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, which could be worth as much as $6 billion, about 166 percent more than what Reynolds paid for it. 

Still another possibility: British American might buy more of R.J. Reynolds' stock than the 42 percent it currently owns. It could potentially buy a controlling share, assuming regulatory agencies approve.  

DATES TO REMEMBER

  • July 10, 8:15 a.m. South Carolina Tobacco Tour, Pee Dee Research and Education Center, 2200 Pocket Rd., Florence, S.C. The tour will end at 3:30 in Sumter County.
  • July 14, 3 p.m. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Edwards Farm, 200 Salem Church Rd., Wendell, N.C. 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. Welcome Dinner (registration required), Fargo Cattle Company, 1007 Shepard School Rd,, Zebulon, N.C.
  • July 15, 8 a.m. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Upper Coastal Plain Research Station, 2811 Nobles Mill Pond Rd, Rocky Mt., N.C. Ends with lunch at noon.
  • July 30, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Virginia Tobacco Field Day. Southern Piedmont AREC, Blackstone, Va. Contact: Margaret Kenny, 434-292-5331 or makenny@vt.edu.
  • July 31, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Grains and Tobacco Field Day. UK REC, Princeton, Ky. Contact: 270-365-7541 ext 264.
  • August 4-5. Lexington, Kentucky. Tobacco Industry Tour. Contact: Bob Pearce, (859) 257-5110.
  • August 7, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tobacco Twilight Tour, Murray State University West Farm, Murray, Ky. Contact: Andy Bailey, tobacco specialist, at 270-365-7541 ext. 240.



BIG M TOBACCO WAREHOUSE 
1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse
Greg Goins is the auctioneer at Big M Warehouse.
We will hold both sealed bid auctions
and live auctions.
We promise 
HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY 
SERVICE
For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.


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Old Belt Tobacco Sales. 1395 Old Belt Way, Rural Hall, N.C. 27045. Call 336-969-6891.