Wednesday, June 29, 2011

From the July 2011 issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter

Late June Crop Report: Specialists and farmers described the condition of this crop at the recent U.S. Tobacco Forum (June 23 and 24 in Durham, N.C.) and in interviews following. Here is what I gleaned from what was said.

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lue-cured--Virginia acreage is five to 10% above last year, estimated David Reed, Extension tobacco specialist. To date the state’s flue-cured has done well--Reed called it one of the most uniform crops he has seen. “Irrigation just started this week,” he added “We’ve had more spotted wilt than we are accustomed to.” North Carolina had a cool spring and good soil moisture, said N.C. Extension tobacco specialist Loren Fisher. “We got off to a good start. The Old Belt was delayed in planting, but it’s gotten adequate rainfall since then. The Eastern Belt has been dry in late spring and early summer.” Fisher estimated that N.C. growers planted 175,000 to 180,000 acres, with possible production of 400 million pounds…South Carolina had some of its crop planted March 20 and soon after, which is quite early, said Dewitt Gooden, Extension tobacco specialist. “That part is matured out already. Now we have a very spotty crop, very up and down. Some farmers have begun topping now”… Georgia and Florida have very uniform crops, said J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist. He thinks 14,000 acres were planted, significantly up from last year thanks to the return of Philip Morris USA to the Deep South and vigorous contracting in those states by U.S. Growers Direct. He estimates Florida plantings will hold at between 850 and 1,000 acres. “Irrigation has been running non-stop. Topping is going on right now, and a few farmers are harvesting already.”

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urley--The Virginia burley crop is late, said Danny Peek, Extension tobacco specialist. From May 1 on, plants were ready but farmers couldn’t get into the field to any extent until Memorial Day. Most of the crop was set in the first two weeks of June. That could be a problem later on. “There is no way we can harvest that much in two weeks,” said Peek. Another problem: Plant development may be slowed because much of the crop was set in cloddy fields. “We had to reset more than in several years,” he said. Acreage is about what it was last year…In Kentucky, burley grower Eddie Warren of Richmond, Ky., told TFN,  “We had a cold, wet May that delayed transplanting, and now this crop is later than normal,” said the burley grower. “The weather turned dry at the end of May and in early June. Everyone was ready and they got the crop in.” Not all tobacco growers were dealing with drought in late June. Al Pedigo of Glasgow, Ky., said it has been wet in his area, preventing him from planting 50 of his planned 250 acres. Will he get it all in? “Not unless it is dry the next week or 10 days,” he said. If he can’t plant by July 5 he probably won’t because that is the “drop dead” date for crop insurance in his area…There were some rainy areas in Tennessee, also. Just before the Forum, Barry Bush of Cookeville had four inches of rain, following several weeks of extreme heat. Then right after the Forum, three more inches of rain fell. “There was some drowning, and we have now lost about 10% of our crop,” said Bush. “We have done some re-setting already, mainly due to the heat and some hail damage.”

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