Saturday, January 5, 2013

HOW MANY BARNS WILL BE ENOUGH?


Curing barns near Dunn, N.C.

The looming shortage of barns to cure the 2013 crop is especially urgent for flue-cured growers, who were very short on barn space in 2012 anyway and appear to be looking at more contract pounds. The age of the existing barns could make the problem worse. "A lot of our flue-cured barns are 20 to 25 years old," says Jay Boyette, commodity director for the North Carolina Farm Bureau. "At some point we will have to replace them. That time may have come. Even if it hasn't on individual farms, it is clear that as time marches on, this will become more of an issue." With the crop American flue-cured growers had last year and the prices it received, there will certainly be more demand for tobacco this year, and some new barns will have to be purchased. Boyette recommends you make any needed arrangements soon. "It's not like 15 years ago. Back then, a manufacturer might build barns on spec. Now, no one is going to build barns without a solid order, maybe even a guaranteed one. There is no readily available inventory of any tobacco equipment anywhere."

A new barn should be as heat efficient as possible, says David Reed, Virginia Extension tobacco specialist. Look for a unit that gives 11 to 12 pounds of cured leaf per gallon of fuel and is as well insulated as possible. And insulate the barn pad, he advises. The payback on that is very quick. Even if the crop was the same size as last year's, some new barns would be needed. "We don't have enough curing capacity now," says Reed. "Much of the 2012 flue-cured crop here was cured in October, mainly because the farmers didn't have enough barns to cure any faster." That is playing chicken with the average first frost date, October 15 in most of Virginia's flue-cured area. 


Two more bulk barn manufacturers have come to the attention of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter: Carolina Tobacco Services of Bennettsville, S.C., has an all-steel 10-box barn that has gotten good results in recent curing efficiency tests. For more information, call Dale Hutchins at 843-479-3804...World Tobacco Inc. in Wilson, N.C., is selling two models this season. The actual assembly is being done by Evans MacTavish, also of Wilson. For more information, call Billy Price at 252-230-1032. Other manufacturers of bulk barns previously reported: Long Tobacco Barn Company LLC in Tarboro, N.C. Call Bob Pope at 252-824-3794. Taylor Manufacturing of Elizabethtown, N.C. Call Ron Taylor at 800-545-2293. MarCo Mfg. of Bennettsville, S.C. Call Tom Pharr at 843-479-3377. Tytun Ltd. of Simcoe, Ontario, Canada. Call 519-428-0044DeCloet SRL, Italy. Call Len Erdelac at 519-983-0432 in Ontario.


There is no great demand among burley growers for new barn space, at least not yet, says Paul Denton, Kentucky-Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist. "Whatever enthusiasm growers felt about the prices for the 2012 crop have been tempered by the problems they faced in finding harvest labor." But if there turns out to be a need for new curing facilities later this year, Denton doesn't think it will be met with traditional tall barns. "I think that outdoor curing structures or low-profile barns would be better choices. You would want the lowest possible initial cost." 

If more barn space is needed, burley farmers are more likely to seek unused existing barns than to build new ones, says Daniel Green, chief operating officer of the Burley Stabilization Corporation in Springfield, Tn. "It takes a lot to build a conventional barn, and although the outlook for burley is good, there is a lot of uncertainty in the short term." There are many unused barns remaining from the years when growers produced much more than they will in 2013. Unfortunately, they are frequently not in the areas where growers are expanding.  



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A BRIEF  HISTORY  OF  NORTH  CAROLINA TOBACCO  
The perfect gift for tobacco people
Written by historian Billy Yeargin, this softcover book from History Press recounts the Bright Leaf's contribution to Tar Heel history. A terrific gift for tobacco-oriented individuals. Price is $21.99. Also available: A companion work called "Remembering North Carolina Tobacco," also by Yeargin. Price is $19.99. To order, specify which or both books you want and send check or money order to Billy Yeargin at 112 N. Webb St, Selma NC 27576. For more information email Yeargin at tobhistry@aol.com.

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Long barns consistently produce the top grade tobacco that companies demand
Come see us at the Southern Farm Show, Exhibit 8617.
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Editor's Note: The next issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter will cover tobacco machinery on display at the Southern Farm Show and other winter shows, plus details on the Tobacco Grower Association of North Carolina's annual meeting. Watch for it in late January. If you want more information about Tobacco Farmer Newsletter--or to share your thoughts--call me at 919-789-4631. Or send me an email at chrisbickers @gmail.com. Or use the comment apparatus on this blog. --Chris Bickers

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Visit us at Exhibit 808 at the Southern Farm Show.

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