All indications are that we will have a big flue-cured crop. The NASS thinks it is going to be really big. On July 11, it projected flue-cured production at 536 million pounds, up 18 percent from 2013. Acreage was up only one percent at 232,000. For the individual states: NC--416.3 million pounds, up 15 percent, on 181,000 acres, up a little; VA--50.6 million pounds, up nearly seven percent, on 22,000 acres, up two percent; GA--35 million pounds, an unbelievable 56 per cent on 14,000 acres, up nine percent; SC--34.5 million pounds, up nearly 40 per cent, on 15,000 acres, up three percent. The highest state yield projection was 2,500 pounds in Georgia and 2,300 pounds in the other three states. Burley, dark and other types were not included in this report but will be in the one in August. Florida does not participate in the survey.
A Georgia yield of 2,500 pounds would have been "toppy" even before the hot weather of three weeks ago and continuing appearances of black shank, says J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist. "Now it seems very unlikely," he says. New incidences of black shank keep appearing, frequently on land that
has been rotated, he adds. Varietal resistance hasn't helped much, perhaps because rain during and after transplanting injured the roots and allowed the black shank organism to bypass the resistance.
A new era for NC tobacco: The long-awaited assessment on N.C. flue-cured finally became a reality on July 11. A referendum on the checkoff passed after a three-month balloting period. The assessment was approved on 88 percent of ballots in a mail-in referendum, considerably more than the two-thirds majority needed for approval. "The margin of support for this effort indicates the level of priority our farmers place on having a strong and organized voice to advocate on important issues," says TGANC President Tim Yarbrough of Prospect Hill, N.C. Buyers will collect the assessment and submit it to the N.C. Department of Agriculture for distribution to the association. Refunds can be obtained. A rate of up to 15 cents per hundred pounds of flue-cured sold in N.C. was approved, but TGANC plans to collect only 10 cents this year. Checkoff programs supporting tobacco research and export promotion in N.C. will continue.
With the approval on the referendum, growers now have an official voice to speak for them, says Yarbrough. "We can present a united front. Of course, no association's members are going to agree on everything, but we need a method of responding to issues as they arise. Six months ago, who would have thought that child labor on tobacco farms would be an issue? But Graham Boyd [TGANC executive vice president] has had to spend a world of time on this issue lately and will have to spend more. We must make sure can act quickly when questions like this are asked. The checkoff will help make it possible."
Long overdue: The statewide vote on a commodity promotion assessment for tobacco, the first ever in N.C., was long overdue. "Until now, tobacco was one of the few commodities in our state that didn't have a checkoff program to support its work," said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, himself a past TGANC board member. More details about the effect of the referendum will appear in future issues.
Four hundred years of American leaf export: In 1614, the first tobacco exported from what is now the United States made its way by ship from Jamestown, Va., to England. To honor this anniversary, a presentation on how the international trade in tobacco began will be part of the program at the Virginia Tobacco Field Day on at the Southern Piedmont Research Center. Wayne Randolph, an agriculture specialist at Colonial
DATES TO REMEMBER