Saturday, July 30, 2011

Slip Sheets: You Get What You Pay For!

 An advertising message from Jim Bowen, president of Zebac Packaging Incorporated (

        While making sales calls recently, I met a tobacco grower who had some slip sheets left over from the 2010 season. He had found a good price for the slip sheets and wires the year before. I asked if I could have a slip sheet for analysis, and the analysis revealed the following:
        The sheets, which were printed Complies with VT-1, weighed 2 lbs. 14 ounces, or 46 ounces. When the wire weight was added to the sheets, the total weight was 67 ounces. This is, in fact. five ounces below the minimum required weight of 72 ounces for compliance with VT-1.
        The difference in price was $0.30 per slip sheet ($2.25 each compared to $2.55 each.) The farmer saved $0.30 per sheet by purchasing the cheaper slip sheets.
        Tobacco was selling at approximately $1.75/lb, or $0.11/ounce. The tare weight was set at five pounds or 80 ounces. Since the actual physical tare weight of the farmer's bale was 67 ounces, the farmer lost 13 ounces of tobacco or $1.43 per bale sold ($0.11 x 13 ounces = $1.43). When you add that to the price, the cheaper sheets actually cost $3.68 each.
        Even if the slip sheets and wire weigh the required minimum of 4.5 lbs. or 72 ounces, the scale is still set at five pounds or 80 ounces. At $0.11 per ounce for tobacco, you still lose eight ounces or $0.88 ($0.11 x 8 ounces = $0.88). The point is this: Purchase your baling supplies from someone you can trust, someone who understands packaging and how to engineer the proper package for the application. Zebac Packaging Incorporated engineers and manufacturers sheets that not only comply with VT-1 but also maximizes your profit margins at the point of sale. Call Jim Bowen at Zebac Packaging Incorporated and receive what you are paying for...and full price for what you are selling.

Who uses what to control suckers? from Tobacco Farmer Newsletter Aug. 1

Who uses what to control suckers? In a survey conducted by the Center for Tobacco Grower Research (CTGR) after the 2010 growing season, the majority of flue-cured and dark growers said they used DNAs. But only 41% of burley growers said they did. The use of fatty alcohols is more common among flue-cured (79%) and dark tobacco (71%) growers than it is among burley growers (11%). The use of maleic hydrazide is more common among burley (84%) and flue-cured (71%) growers than among dark tobacco growers (43%). The number of MH applications varied among the types. The majority of burley growers (88%) applied MH once, 55% of dark tobacco growers applied MH twice and 65% of flue-cured growers applied MH three or more times.  To learn more, see CTGR's May newsletter at its website

More tobacco tour dates: 
   --CrossCreek Seed will hold a field day at its headquarters in Raeford, N.C., on August 3. Registration begins at 8:15 a.m. and the program should end around noon. For more information, call (910) 904 1888 or go to the CrossCreek website
   --Kentucky's Burley Tobacco Tour will start at 12:30 p.m., August 15, at the Spindletop Research Farm in Lexington. Attendees will tour farms in Woodford County Monday, then visit research plots at Spindletop Tuesday morning and more farms Tuesday afternoon, concluding about 4 p.m. For more information, contact Bob Pearce at or (859) 221 2465.

Friday, July 29, 2011

End-of-July tobacco crop report--from Tobacco Farmer Newsletter, August 1

Flue-cured in Georgia is definitely late, at least as compared to the fairly recent past. "Not too many years ago, we would be preparing for our final harvest at the beginning of August," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia tobacco Extension agronomist. "This year, quite a bit of the crop hasn't even been harvested the first time, and topping and suckering is nearly complete. Our crop is progressing now more on the Border Belt calendar." The delay is partly because of weather conditions. But there is another big factor: the trend among Georgia farmers in recent years to transplant later to avoid tomato spotted wilt infection. In Florida, on the other hand, growers generally haven't made the conversion. "They still plant the second or third week of March and stay on the traditional timeline," says Moore. "One farmer in the Hamilton area told me he will start his final harvest the week of August 1"...The hot early season temperatures and especially the hot soil temperatures may have contributed to the appearance of southern stem rot for the third year. But the disease, called white mold when it strikes peanuts, was only scattered...Despite all that, Moore is optimistic for excellent yield and quality in both the Type 14 states...In Eastern North Carolina, the flue-cured crop has been "all over the board," says Norman Harrell, Extension agent in Wilson County, N.C., on July 28. "We had a pretty good start, and there was timely rainfall early. But the 100-degree days in July were tough. Right now, we appear to have a pretty good crop." Growers in his county have been more cautious than ever in managing MH residues, Harrell says. Using less nitrogen and delaying application till after first harvest have been two frequent strategies. "I anticipate residues will be low," he says.

Burley in Tennessee and southern Kentucky has potential for a better-than-average crop, maybe the best in the last three years, says Paul Denton, Kentucky-Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist. "Topping is 10% to 15% complete among burley growers," says Denton. "The dark growers are a little farther along, maybe 25%. But some of both types is ankle high"..."We have at least as many planted acres as last year and it appears we could have a higher yield than last year. So I think we could have a bigger crop"...There appears to be one success story in the burley states this year: Some areas had a wet spring followed by a dry summer. Those are the conditions that usually set the stage for black shank. But Denton says there has been very little this year. That's due to the increased plantings of the black-shank-resistant burley varieties KT-209 and KT-206 that also features black shank resistance, he says. "Probably half of Tennessee burley growers planted one or both of those varieties."

Dark tobacco in western Kentucky and Tennessee has been "as up and down as I have ever seen it," says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist in those states. "But it is starting to level out." Irrigation was just starting, and some problems with compaction were reported. "A lot of dark tobacco here is strip tilled, and in strip tillage, you have a lot of roots growing straight down but not many growing laterally," he says. "You can get sidewall compaction, and that lead in some cases to lodging when we had heavy winds on July 24." But average or better yields seem achievable, he says, and since a few excess acres were set late in the planting season, a normal crop seems well within reach.

What threshold for flea beetles?

The current late season treatment threshold for flea beetles may not be reliable. The early season, post transplant threshold is still valid, says Hannah Burrack, N.C. Extension entomologist. “But until the late season threshold can be revised, base your management decision on plant damage rather than beetle density,” Burrack says. “If lower leaves appear ‘laced’ near the stalk, treatment is likely necessary.” ...For more on late-season flea beetle control, watch for the August issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. Not on the mailing list? Send an email to, and write "Subscribe," your tobacco type or other tobacco affiliation, and state where you live.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quality should pay in this tobacco market

Quality leaf may be the only leaf that sells well this season. “The world is awash in flue-cured, but it is poor-quality flue-cured,” said Blake Brown, N.C. Extension economist, at the U.S. Tobacco Forum in June. “The world is certainly not awash in high-quality flue-cured.” Will Snell, Kentucky Extension agricultural economist, said the situation is similar for burley. “High quality stocks are in tight supply,” he said, adding that the low quality of the 2010 U.S. burley crop, the uncertainty caused by the threat of flavoring regulations and unpredictable exchange rates all contributed to the relatively poor outlook for the burley market this year.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A good start for Coragen on tobacco

            The newly labeled insecticide Coragen for control of budworm and hornworm on tobacco appears to be enjoying a successful first season, based on reports received by Tobacco Farmer Newsletter.
            Burley and  dark tobacco grower George Marks of Clarksville, Tn., told TFN that converting from Orthene in the transplant water to Coragen lead to improved insect control. “It just works better,” he said in mid June. “We have had good luck with it this year and haven’t had to spray with anything else yet." If he were still using Orthene he would expect to be spraying more. If you use Coragen in the transplant water, do not apply Belt or Coragen as the first foliar treatment following transplanting, said Hannah Burrack, N.C. entomologistOtherwise there is a risk of budworm resistance to Coragen, Tracer or Blackhawk, Denim, Orthene and methomyl would all be better choices“You want a material with a different mode of action,” she said.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Don’t slip up on slip sheets

An advertising message from Jim Bowen, president of Zebac Packaging
        In this era of tight margins, every penny matters when it is multiplied by your total sales weight.
        Slip sheets are one such area. A tobacco grower purchases the least expensive slip sheets that he can locate in the market. For discussion’s sake, let’s say he pays $2.25 per slip sheet. The slip sheet reads “Complies with VT-1,” meaning it can weigh from 4.51 lbs. to 5.49 lbs. What the grower is unaware of is that the sheet weighs 4.51 pounds with the wire which is perfectly within the limits of VT-1.
        The grower then takes his tobacco to the receiving station to sell. His tobacco brings $1.90 per pound. The tare weight at the scale reads 5 lbs. Subtract the actual tare weight of 4.51 lbs. and the grower has just lost $0.95 due to the actual weight of his sheet and wires. There are two ways to view this situation: 1) Add this amount to the original cost and the grower has paid $3.20 per slip sheet. 2) The grower will lose $0.95 for each bale of tobacco sold. If he sells by the tractor-trailer load of, say, 56 bales each load, his losses will be $53.20 per load. That could easily cover the fuel costs of each transport to market for most growers. This figure increases with each additional bale sold.
        Other points of concern about the functionality of the slip sheets should matter too.  The strength of the sheet and its resistance to tearing are increasingly important.  More and more buyers are classifying fragments of slip sheets in the bale as NTRM.  While it is possible that such infiltration occurs after the bale has been purchased on the way to the leaf-processing facility, it nonetheless reflects the individual grower’s product delivery integrity.  The final score card for growers matters when it is time to seek a volume increase for the coming season.
        There is no governing authority that regulates the slip sheets. It is primarily the responsibility of the grower to be aware of what he is purchasing and using. One way to do that is to make sure you are dealing with a reputable and experienced provider. Zebac Packaging has over 42 years experience in the packaging field and collaborated with NCSU to design the original slip sheets in 1997. In addition, Zebac Packaging has made several modifications since 1998 to increase performance and reduce the cost of slip sheets.
        Look for the “All-In-One”/ Zebac Packaging name on your next purchase of slip sheets and you will know that the weight is correct and you can buy with confidence.
       --ByZebac Packaging.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Flue-cured production projected at 8% above 2010

               Flue-cured tobacco production in the United States was fore-cast at 489 million pounds as of July 3, up eight percent from 2010,    by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
               Plantings are projected at 216,000 acres, two percent above last year. Yield per acre is forecast at 2,263 pounds, up 120 pounds    from a year ago. 
               Yields projected for North Carolina and Virginia were up
 from last year, while they were down in Georgia and South Carolina. By state: 
               --North Carolina flue-cured was rated in mostly fair to good condition. Many farmers have started to irrigate as weather has been hot and dry. Production was estimated at 395.6 million pounds, up   47 million pounds from last year.
               --Virginia flue-cured is progressing well. At the beginning of July, the majority of flue-cured tobacco was in fair to good condition. Most of the flue-cured growing area received rains,  contributing to a favorable crop. Production was estimated at 44.4 million pounds, up   4.5 million pounds from last year
               --South Carolina production was affected by drought as most growers reported a warm and dry growing season this year. The ma-jority of the crop was rated in fair to good  condition.  Some  growers  reported exceptionally low yields due to the lack of rain.  Production was estimated at 24.65 million pounds, down 11.35 million pounds for last year.
               --Georgia flue-cured was reported mostly in fair condition as of July 3. Production was estimated at 24.2 million pounds, down 3.1 million pounds from last year.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Looking to Indonesia to sell U.S. leaf:

Clove cigarettes could be a growth market for U.S. exports. Rick Smith, president of Independent Leaf Tobacco Co. of Wilson, N.C., told the audience at the recent U.S. Tobacco Forum that Indonesia is turning to American leaf because of a very real need on the part of its manufacturers. "The traditional blend--the clove cigarette--has a very high tar content, and the government is anxious to reduce it," he said. "Inclusion of American leaf can be used to do it and also add a flavor element."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More news from the U.S. Tobacco Forum held June 23-24 in Durham, N.C.

There will be no MH on Greg Manning's flue-cured farm near NashvilleN.C. Manning started his sucker control sprays just before the Forum took place, and he used the new Strickland Bros. sprayer hood to apply his six contact applications. He said he got excellent results when he used it last year. "We covered more acres faster with the solution we had, and we got good sucker control," he said. For more information, see the company's website at

How much U.S. tobacco can be irrigated? Nearly 70% of the flue-cured growers and 54% of the dark tobacco growers responding to a survey conducted by the Center for Tobacco Growers Research (CTGR) said they have the capability to irrigate, compared to just less than 30% of the burley growers. Looking at acres, only 33% of the burley acres could be irrigated compared to 44% for flue-cured and 49% for dark. To learn more, see CTGR's May newsletter at

CrossCreek Seed re-seeded two of its greenhouses earlier this year to provide plants for farmers whose houses were damaged by tornadoes in North Carolina on April 16. The program was a success. "We ended up moving 75% of the plants, about 225 acres," said Sam Baker, vice president of CrossCreek Seed. The company will hold its annual field day August 3 at 2000 Vass Rd.RaefordN.C. The program will run from 9 a.m. to noon. Registration starts at 8:15. For more information, call 910-904-1888 or see the website