Thursday, April 24, 2014
This just in: George Simpson, Jr., Regional Manager of Yara North America, told me right after reading the April 24 issue of TFN that SQM is reintroducing the former “Soda Potash 15-0-14” in an updated form. The analysis is now 15-0-15. Called Sodium Potassium Nitrate, its potassium is chlorine free and its nitrogen is till 100% nitrate nitrogen. It still has the pink color that growers recognized and appreciated for years. This product is coming into Wilmington, N.C., next week. It will be available in bulk and bulk bags only. "Please indicate your interest in this product to your local dealer," says Simpson. "The re-introduction amount will be limited."
The transplanters are rolling in Johnston County, N.C., a major flue-cured county and most of the Tobacco Belt. Johnston Extension Director Bryant Spivey tells Tobacco Farmer Newsletter that some flue-cured was set starting on April 10 but transplanting didn't really get going in earnest until yesterday. "The peak period will be from now till May 5," he says. "We might have gotten in sooner but it's been wet and there are still some wet spots." The timing is a little later than normal but not by much. The only growers likely to be affected are those with large operations who are trying to spread planting out over a longer period in order to extend the harvest period.
"There were a few days when the low temperatures fell to 32 degrees," says Matthew Vann, N.C. specialist. Some farmers had started setting by then, and they may have encountered some frost or freeze issues. However, we haven't heard of any yet." Tobacco transplanted from April 10 to April 15 in Johnston County seems to have survived the cold snap, says Spivey. "The stands are good so far. But the cool temperatures may result in more premature flowering and ground suckers"...Those who haven't started probably will this week or the next. "But some may delay a little longer waiting for warmer temperatures and dryer soils." The bulk of this crop will be set out a little later than normal. "You might say the crop is a week or two behind. But that certainly isn't anything to worry about, especially in the east where we have such a large planting window. From Winston-Salem west, there might be a little more concern."
It's been a hard season for plant production, with the cold and with more cloudy days than usual. "The supply of plants is a little tight, maybe five or 10 percent short of what was planned," says Vann. Spivey says farmers in Johnston County had a little more success in the greenhouse. "I would say we are four to five percent down in useable transplants compared to a a normal year," he says. "But the plants we have are very healthy, and I believe the supply is adequate but close. There is no excess to be had"...Transplanting remains in the future in Kentucky. "I don't think we have many plants ready to set out, and many aren't even close," says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "We got a late start on seeding because of the the cold weather and the price of propane. I would say we are about a week to 10 days behind normal. Now the soil temperatures are low which may delay transplanting further."
The potassium sulfate shortage is for real. And the shortage is taking place at the point of origin, it seems. Pearce says that if a dealer was slow to place his order for this season, he may not have any for his customers. It is not clear what the reasons for the shortage are, and perhaps more will become available later. "We may be able to do a split application if that is the case," Pearce says. If you decide to use an alternative sources of potassium, be careful not to apply too much chlorine, says Vann of N.C. "Chlorine toxicity is a result of excessive chloride accumulation [in flue-cured] and will result in a decrease in leaf yield and quality as well as very poor smoke flavor," says Vann. The quality decrease and smoke problems also occur in burley where too much chlorine has been applied, says Pearce, but yield losses are rare in the heavier soils that burley is typically grown on.
The Palmer's amaranth problem is not going away either. Vann reminds that Spartan is probably the best herbicide weapon against it in tobacco. "If you still have the option of applying Spartan to this crop, it could keep amaranth seed at bay," he says. The Chinese have objected to amaranth seed they found in leaf they bought here and don't want to see any more.
Canada contracts for slightly more pounds. Canadian tobacco growers, all in Ontario, signed contracts with the industry for flue-cured production close to the 2013 level. Licenses have been issued to 241 growers--two fewer than last year--for total plantings of 21,000 acres. The projected yield is 57 million pounds, slightly more than the actual harvest of 56.2 million pounds last year but nine percent below the contracted production of a year ago. The 2013 crop was plagued by a cold spring, some frost, rains that delayed planting, and a very cold stretch in September, according the Ontario Tobacco Marketing Board, which administers the contracting program. Fred Neukamm, farmer-chairman of the board, told the Brantford (Ontario) Expositor that this year's retraction is disappointing but no cause for alarm. "That reduction caught us a bit by surprise but the number of growers hasn't changed much," he said. "The buyers have told us any reductions are the result of normal adjustments."
GAP Recertification Meetings
Monday, April 7, 2014
For the past three weeks, growers in Florida have been setting plants out, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia-Florida Extension tobacco specialist. A few fields in Georgia have been planted. "Mainly just the dry hills," he says. "Next week they will be going full steam." A lot will be planted, he thinks. "The Prospective Plantings projection for Georgia (13,300 acres) is too low," he says. "I am seeing new growers in Georgia, and Florida too, and many existing growers are increasing their plantings. I think 15,000 acres would be closer to the mark in Georgia, with an increase in Florida too."
Warning: Plants could be hard to come by in much of the Tobacco Belt. Tobacco Farmer Newsletter has learned from sources in several states that:
In other production news:
The loss of the flue-cured variety NC 71 for this season may lead to more Georgia-Florida growers trying out the three new flue-cured varieties: GL 395, NC 925 and CC 143. "They will be very interested in any of these varieties that show good resistance to Race 1 black shank," Moore says. GF 318, which is only a few years old, may also pick up some of the slack.
Potassium sulfate may be in short supply this year, and it is the most popular form of potash. "If you have to buy a different form, be sure that the level of chlorine is very low," says Vann. "Chlorine can affect the quality of leaf."
GAP Recertification schedule: A few more GAP Recertification sessions remain to be held. The last that is currently scheduled is set to take place . More could be scheduled. Following is the schedule published to date in the GAP website. For more information, please call 865-622-4606 or visit www.gapconnections.com.
USDA-NASS Prospective Plantings Report (3/31/2014)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture projected modest increases in acreage for all tobacco types this year in its March plantings report, with a two percent increase for flue-cured and a one percent increase for burley. All individual states were projected either up or unchanged in acreage except for the mountain burley states of Virginia and North Carolina and for Ohio (also burley). State projections follow.
FLUE-CURED: North Carolina--182,000 acres, up one percent. Virginia--22,000 acres, up two percent. South Carolina--15,000 acres, up three percent. Georgia--13,300 acres, up four percent. All flue-cured--232,300 acres, up two percent.
BURLEY: Kentucky--75,000 acres, up one percent. Tennessee--14,000 acres, up four percent. Pennsylvania--5,100 acres, no change. Virginia--2,200 acres, down eight percent. Ohio--2,000 acres, down five percent. North Carolina--1,800 acres, down five percent. All burley--100,100 acres, up one percent.
FIRE-CURED: Kentucky--9,200 acres, up two percent. Tennessee--7,200 acres, up four percent. Virginia--380 acres, up nine percent. All fire- cured--16,780 acres, up three percent.
DARK AIR-CURED: Kentucky--4,300 acres, up two percent. Tennessee--1,100 acres, up 10 percent 10 percent. All dark air-cured--5,400 acres, up four percent.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND--(All in Pennsylvania) 2,000 acres, no change.
PENNSYLVANIA SEEDLEAF--(All in Pennsylvania) 2,000 acres, up 11 percent.
ALL TYPES--361,900 acres, up two percent.