Wednesday, July 11, 2012

USDA projects U.S. Flue-cured Production Up 25%

Tobacco Farmer Newsletter Mid-July 2012 

Could 400 million pounds of flue-cured be on the way? The U.S. Department of Agriculture projected on July 11 that flue-cured production in the U.S. this year will reach 432 million pounds, up a whopping 25 percent from the hurricane-damaged 2011 crop and nearly as much as the 488 million pounds projected last year before the hurricane. Planted area for harvest is four percent below last year at 199,000 acres. Yield per acre is forecast at 2,173 pounds, up 507 pounds from a year ago. By state, the USDA reported:
  • North Carolina was rated in mostly fair to good condition. Production levels recovered from last year's hurricane damage. Many farmers started to irrigate as weather has been extremely hot in many growing areas.
  • Virginia was progressing well with the majority rated in fair to good condition. 
  • South Carolina production has been affected by unusually cool, wet weather which led to some reports of thin and yellowing plants. 
  • Georgia acreage was reported mostly in fair to good condition as of July 1. Temperatures for the past month were above normal and rainfall was very spotty. 
  • Florida is not included in USDA planting/production reports but a Tobacco Farmer Newsletter report on the effects of Tropical Storm Debby appears below. 

Blue mold broke out for real in Pennsylvania in June. It had been discovered in greenhouses in late May, and some infected plants were carried to the field. By late June, many fields were visibly infected, mostly in the state's two leading counties--Lancaster and Chester. Some fields had significant sporulating populations. "Most farmers are now aggressively spraying," said Jeff Graybill, Pa. Extension agronomy educator. "It seems to be worse on the burley types but is present at some level on the Pennsylvania seedleaf and Southern Maryland types as well." Late note: Graybill told Tobacco Farmer Newsletter on July 11 that there have been no new cases of blue mold in Pennsylvania that he knows of in recent days. The intense heat and drought of the last few weeks may have stopped the spread of the disease...The mild winter apparently allowed blue mold to overwinter in the greenhouses, Graybill said...He also took issue with the USDA projection that only 2,000 acres of Southern Maryland have been planted in Pennsylvania. "I expect at least a 10 percent increase over last year based on the calls I am getting," he told TFN.

Tropical Storm Debby dropped from six to 22 inches of rainfall on tobacco along the Georgia-Florida border down to Gainesville, Fl., mostly on June 26 and 27. Much of the Florida tobacco crop and the southern portion of the Georgia tobacco crop was affected, said Extension tobacco specialist J. Michael Moore. Drowning damage was compounded by extreme temperatures and bright sunshine, said Moore. "Roots were suffocated, and plants lacked the ability to take up water, nutrients and oxygen. Wilted leaves were scaled and burn." Although losses are heavy, a large portion of the Florida crop and a majority of the Georgia crop was not damaged, said Moore. "Farmers as far south as Gainesville and as far north as the Georgia state line have little damage and will have a pretty fair crop. But those in the Live Oak, Fla., area will not be so lucky-there is lots of drowning there, and there will be scalding from the hot sun" that started at the end of June." Moore's assessment on July 11: "The damage is not as bad as expected but it is still mounting. Farmers are still working with insurance adjusters on at least 300 acres."

Dates to remember (updated list):

  • South Carolina Tobacco Tour. Starts at 8:15 a.m., July 10, at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center near Florence, S.C. Ends mid afternoon. For information, call 843-662-3526. 
  • North Carolina Tobacco Tour. Begins at 6:15 p.m., Monday, July 23, with dinner at Silver Lake Seafood Restaurant, 5335 N.C. Highway 58 near Wilson, N.C. Second day begins 7 a.m., Tuesday at Hampton Inn Suites I-95, Wilson, and includes lunch at the Eastern Carolina Agriculture & Education Center at Rocky Mount. Third day begins 8 a.m. Wednesday at Oxford Tobacco Research Station and ends with lunch and a tour at JTI Leaf Services in Danville, Va. For information, call 919-515-0459. 
  • Virginia Tobacco Field Day. Begins  4:30 p.m., Thursday, July 26, at Southern Piedmont Research Center two miles east of Blackstone, Va. A sponsored dinner and tours of research plots end about 8:30 p.m. For more information, call 434-292-5331.
  • Kentucky Burley Tour, August 7 and 8. Starts 1 p.m., Tuesday, at Spindletop Farm near Lexington, Ky. Second day begins at 8 a.m., Wednesday, with tour stops in Fayette, Woodford, Anderson, Mercer and Nelson Counties, ending up Wednesday afternoon near Bardstown. For information, call 859-221-2465.
  • The next day, August 9, a Tobacco and Grains Field Day will be held at the Princeton, Ky., Research and Education Center, about a 2.5 hour drive from the termination point of the burley tour. Starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at lunch. For more information, call  270- 365-7541 extension 0. "We hope that many of those attending the Kentucky Burley Tour will be able to continue to Princeton for this Field Day," said Andy Bailey, KY-TN tobacco specialist.

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