Sunday, February 23, 2014

The season begins

Watch out for the "carve out," said PMI executive Jon Huenemann at the annual meeting of the Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. Just to the right is TGANC president Brent Leggett, who had some words of his own on the carve out (see below).

It was a good two years, said outgoing president of the Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. (TGANC) Brent Leggett at the organization's annual meeting February 7 in Raleigh, N.C. Tobacco Farmer Newsletter got to talk to him this week and find out his observations after serving two one-year terms:

  • He was very happy that the past two crops had been characterized by good demand and good prices. "Especially in 2013, with the unique weather, I think farmers responded well in getting a product that met buyer demand, and the buyers rewarded them for it. I am glad of that."
  • He is very concerned by efforts of the attorneys general of the United State to exclude tobacco from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement (the so-called "carve out"). "We have to oppose this in every way we can," says Leggett.  "If they think they can succeed at this, they might try it on any number of federal programs. Or other crops--you can just imagine how crops like peanuts or cotton could be vulnerable to this sort of treatment."
  • He thinks the great imponderable for 2014 will be the effect of the end of the buyout. "This will be the first year in a decade we have produced a crop that will not have the benefit of buyout payment assistance following the season," he says. "How will this dynamic affect the stability of the market moving forward?" For more on the TGANC meeting, see below.
The remainder of the Kentucky burley crop should be reaching the market in the next week or 10 days, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "Not much is left," he says. "I was on a farm Monday when stripping there was finished. The rest will be done soon." It would probably all be done already but the extreme cold weather at times had made it hard to get leaf in case. 

There is no hurry among Kentucky growers to start heating their greenhouses, especially if they heat with propane, says Pearce. "If the winter continues cold that could become a cost issue," he says. "I anticipate one of our later starts this year."

The good price of the burley crop has a lot of growers optimistic about 2014, says Steve Walker, Macon County (Tn.) Extension Director. "Our acreage will be up if contracts are available," he says. Most of the burley in the county, which is north of Nashville and borders Kentucky, has been delivered, he says, but there may be a problem for some farmers who have had to delay stripping because of the cold. "The companies may want to close their stations in mid February (or soon after), and for some growers that could make it close." Macon County has greatly increased burley production since deregulation, and growers have improved their tobacco infrastructure with the addition of new barns, says Walker. "The new barns can house several acres of tobacco, and with sufficient labor, hanging can be a speedy process," he says. "Some of new barns are open sided to allow good air movement." 

Run to the mailbox if you are a N.C. flue-cured grower and send in your referendum ballot. Ballots for the North Carolina checkoff referendum should reach growers by mail in the vicinity of March 15, says Leggett. The ballots will ask flue-cured producers if they support a checkoff to fund TGANC. Ten cents per hundredweight is the proposed rate. There is a 90-day voting period. "But don't let it lay on your desk, " says Leggett. "Mark it up and send it back as soon as you get it. You know you are not going to want to be doing any paperwork on June 15!"

TGANC presented awards to several individuals and  
one family at the meeting. They were: Extension award--Tim Hambrick, Forsyth County, N.C., tobacco agent; Outstanding TGANC director--Tim Yarbrough, Caswell County, N.C.; Farm family of the year--the Fann family of Salemburg, N.C., and Distinguished Service--Carl Watson, tobacco research specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture.

The challenge of harvesting late: Watson with the N.C. Department of Agriculture, is responsible for growing the 
tobacco that is used each year in the tobacco-stringing contest at the N.C. State Fair, and that took some doing in 2013. "We seeded the plots [at the Oxford, N.C., research station] a little late in the greenhouse, maybe a week or two, then planted two and a half weeks later than normal, hoping it would hold till the Fair," Watson said. The fair usually begins around the tenth or eleventh of October, but in 2013, the fair began on the seventeenth, with the contest on the eighteenth. Watson thought he might have to make a very late nitrogen application to keep the tobacco growing. "But it didn't rain when we didn't need it to rain, and we wound up with good over-ripe tobacco when we needed it," he said. It was harvested on October 18, and after the tying contest, it was cured in the historic furnace-and-flues barn in the fair's Village of Yesteryear. For his fair tobacco, Watson used the varieties NC-196 and CC-27. "The Cross Creek variety did a good job of staying in the field."

To learn more about the GAP Connections program please call 865-622-4606 or visit All times Eastern except where noted.

  • March 4, 2014, 11:30 a.m. CT. Clinton County Tobacco Meeting, First Albany Baptist Church. 110 W. Cumberland St., Albany, Ky. Contact: Colby Guffey, (606) 387-5404,
  • March 6, 6:30 p.m. Grant-Owen County Tobacco Meeting, Jonesville Firehouse, 5070 Jonesville Rd., Jonesville, Ky. Contact: Chris Am merman, (859) 824-3355,
  • March 3, 10:30 a.m. CT. Breckinridge County Tobacco Meeting, Breckinridge County Extension Office, 1377 Hwy. 261 S., Hardinsburg, Ky. Contact: Carol Hinton, (270) 756-2182,
  • March 3, 2. There will be two meetings this day in Bardstown, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., for Nelson, Marion, and Washington County growers. Both will take place at the Nelson County Extension Office, 317 S. 3d St., Bardstown, Ky. Contact: Ron Bowman, (502)-348-9204,
  • March 19, 6 p.m. (Introduction to Tobacco GAP at 5 p,m,). Mason County Extension Office. 800 U.S. 68, Maysville, Ky. Contact: Tad Campbell, (606) 564-6808 or
  • March 20, 6:30 p.m. CT. Barren County Tobacco Meeting, Barren County Extension Office, 1463 West Main St. Glasgow, Ky. Contact: Kristin Goodin, (270) 651-3818,
  • March 25, 6 p.m. South East Ky. Tobacco Meeting, Laurel County Extension Office, 200 County Extension Rd., London, Ky. Contact: Glenn Williams (606) 864-4167, 
  • February 27, 8:30. The Residence of Abe Gingerich, 24 Rushing Rd, Ethridge, Tn. Contact: Joe Beeler at
  • March 13, 7 p.m. Middle Tennessee Research & Education Center, 1000 Main Entrance Dr., Spring Hill, Tn. Contact: Joe Beeler,
  • March 27, 6 p.m. Grainger County Meeting, Ag Pavilion, 280 Bryan Rd., Rutledge, Tn. Contact: Anthony Carver, 865-828-3411
  • March 3, 4:30 p.m. Montgomery/Stewart County Tobacco Meeting, Montgomery Ext. Office, Clarksville, Tn. Contact: 931-648-5725.
  • March 5, 1 p.m. Christian County Extension Office, Hopkinsville, Ky. Contact: 270-886-6328.
  • March 7, 1 p.m. McLean County Extension Office, Calhoun, Ky. Contact: (270) 273-3690.  
OHIO (Burley)
  • March 10, 4 p.m. Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center, 175 Lloyd Rd., West Union, Ohio. Contact:
  • March 10, 7:30 p.m. Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center, 175 Lloyd Rd., West Union, Ohio. Contact:
  • March 19, 1 p.m. Southern Hills Career Center on Hamer Road, Georgetown, Ohio. Contact:

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