Most buyers expect 2014 burley production to be less than the current USDA estimate of 211.5 million pounds. See below.
FLUE-CURED "The crop this past season was not a vintage one, but it was very useable," says Rick Smith, president of Independent Leaf Tobacco Co., Wilson, N.C. "It was not quite as as big as we thought--I am saying 525 million pounds. There was more in the fields, but the hurricane, wet weather and frost lowered production considerably, especially in the Old Belt." As far as he knows, there was enough to fill all contracts, but there is not a lot of excess inventory. He estimates the average price for tobacco sold under contract at around $2.08 or $2.09 per pound. "Some uncontracted tobacco sold at very reasonable prices and has moved right into the trade," he says. What price in 2015? "I expect the price for flue-cured will not be down much, and it may be flat," Smith says. "Contract acreage might be down around five percent. There is going to be some reluctance to load up here since Zimbabwe had excess leaf, Brazil had excess leaf [in 2014] and the new Brazil market is opening." Increased plantings of uncontracted flue-cured seem likely.
BURLEYWorld production increased 12 percent in 2014, following a 22 percent larger crop in 2013, with most of the growth coming in low quality filler tobacco from Africa, according to Universal Leaf. WillSnell,Kentucky Extension ageconomist, said that U.S.burley disappearance (domestic use plus exports) was relatively stable from 2008-2012 at around 210 to 220 million pounds but fell to 200 million pounds in 2013. It will likely fall farther in 2014 responding to both lower leaf exports and slumping sales of domestic cigarettes.Most buyers expect 2014 burley production to be less than the current USDA estimate of 211.5 million pounds, but it will probably still be more than anticipated use. The result? More critical grading and prices that retreat from their record high of $2.06 per pound for the 2013 crop.
DARK The 2014 U.S. dark fire cured crop is expected to total around 50 million pounds, while the dark air-cured crop should total around 15 million pounds, says Snell. Both are just slightly above the levels of the previous year. The current supply/demand balance for dark tobaccos indicates relatively strong leaf prices for the current crop. But the expansion in smokeless tobacco consumption appears to be slowing.
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Reports from the field: All burley delivered to the Big Burley auction warehouse in Lexington, Ky., so far has been good, says owner Darby Montgomery. But that could change. "We are just now [after Christmas] seeing frozen tobacco begin to arrive." Prices at Montgomery's auctions have been lower than last year, with a top price of around $1.50. Volume may have been affected by hail that struck several parts of the state late in the season. "Some farms suffered a total loss." Montgomery isn't quite ready to estimate the burley crop size, but he is thinking lower rather than higher. "It definitely was no bumper crop."
Hail hurts burley yields in Tennessee: At the UT AgResearch Center in Greeneville, a late hailstorm lowered a very good yield to just good. "The hail knocked holes in the leaves," says Rob Ellis, director of the center. "During harvest, we saw a lot more leaves on the ground than we would normally expect to see. We lost some yield." But the center's crop suffered no damage as a result of the intense cold of the weekend of November 1--harvest had been completed well before that date.
No burley auction in N.C....yet. Dennis White, owner of the Old Belt auction warehouse in Rural Hall, N.C., had planned to hold several burley auctions in December, says he never got enough leaf to justify a burley-only sale. But he hasn't given up hope. "I am getting calls," he says. "If I get enough burley, I will have a sale, probably in January." He has sold some burley--maybe 25,000 to 30,000 pounds--in the course of his flue-cured sales. Many growers with excess burley are apparently holding on to it in hopes that the price will go up in the New Year, White says.
The Southern Farm Show will be held February 4 to February 6 at theNorth Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C. Among the events held in connection with the show will be the annual meeting of the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina on February 6. Watch future issues of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter for more information on the show including a list of exhibitors with tobacco-related products.
The Council for Burley Tobacco will hold its annual meeting on Saturday, January 17, during the Agriculture Industry Trade Show at the Owensboro Convention Center in conjunction with the 2015 Tobacco Expo. The meeting will take place at 12 p.m. in West Ballroom E. The annual meeting of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association will take place immediately afterward in the same location, starting at 1 p.m. A GAP meeting will be held there earlier that day (see below).
Editor's note: I hope you have enjoyed this issues of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. If you haven't signed on to receive it regularly or need to change an address, please send a subscription request to email@example.com. For more information, you can email me at that address or call me at 919-789-4631. Thanks--Chris Bickers
UPCOMING GAP RECERTIFICATION MEETINGS
January 17, 8:30 a.m. Owensboro Convention Center, 501 W Second St., Owensboro, Ky. Contact Bob Pearce at 859 257 511 or rpearce@ email.uky.edu. This meeting is being held in conjunction with the 2015 Tobacco Expo.
January 22, (Two sessions) 1 p.m. & 6 p.m. Marion County Extension Office, 416 Fairgrounds Rd., Lebanon, Ky. Marion County. Contact (270) 692-2421.
January 27, 10 a.m. Woodford County Extension Office, 184 Beasley Road, Versailles, Ky. Woodford County. Contact (859) 873-4601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 30, 1:30 a.m. Henry County Extension Office, 2151 Campbellsburg Rd., New Castle, Ky. Henry County. Contact (502) 845-2811 or email@example.com.
January 30, 9:30 a.m. Shelby County Extension Office, 1117 Frankfort Rd., Shelbyville, Ky. Shelby County. Contact (502) 633-4593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 3, 6 p.m. Lincoln County Extension Office, 104 Metker Trail, Stanford, Ky. Lincoln County. Contact (606) 365-2459 email@example.com.
February 12, 6 p.m. Montgomery County Extension Office, 106 East Locust St., Mt Sterling, Ky. Montgomery County. Contact (859)-498-8741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 19, 12 p.m. Green County Extension Office, 298 Happyville Rd., Greensburg, Ky. Green County. Contact (270)-932-5311 email@example.com.
February 19, 5 p.m. RECC Building, 2405 North Main St., Jamestown, Ky. Russell County. Contact (270) 866-4477 firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 24, 6 p.m. Maysville Community College, 1755 U.S. 68, Maysville, Ky. Maysville County. Contact (606) 564-6808 or email@example.com.
February 25, 10 a.m. Breckinridge County Extension Office, 1377 Hwy 261 So., Hardinsburg, Ky. Breckinridge County. Contact (270) 756-2182 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 10, 6 p.m. Allen County Extension Office, 200 East Main St., Scottsville, Ky. Allen County. Contact (270) 237-3146 or email@example.com.
March 10, 6 p.m. Warren County Extension Office, 3132 Nashville Rd., Bowling Green, Ky. Warren County. Contact (270) 842-1681 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 12, 6:30 p.m.Wolfe County Extension Office, North Washington St., Campton, Ky. Wolfe County. Contact (606) 668-3712 or email@example.com.
March 19, 6:30 p.m. Owen County Extension Office, 265 Ellis Hwy., Owenton, Ky. Owen County. Contact (502) 484-5703 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 20, 6 p.m. . City-County Park Building, Filter Plant Rd., Franklin, Ky. Contact 270-586-4484 or email@example.com.
February 24, 2 p.m. McLean County Extension Office, 335 West 7th St., Calhoun, Ky. Contact 270-273-3690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 26, 2 p.m.Logan County Extension Office, 255 John Paul Rd., Russellville, Ky. Contact 270-726-6323 or email@example.com.
February 3, 8 a.m. Robertson Co. Fairgrounds Bldg., Hwy. 41, Springfield, Tn. (Burley) Contact 615-384-7936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 10, 5 p.m. Montgomery Co. Extension Office, 1030A Cumberland Heights Rd., Clarksville, Tn. (Dark). Contact 931-648-5725 or email@example.com.
INDIANA (All burley)
February 23, 6 p.m. Switzerland County Extension Office, 708 West Seminary St., Vevay, In. Switzerland County. Contact (812) 427-3152 or firstname.lastname@example.org.