Thursday, March 26, 2015


A farmer in north Florida sets out flue-cured plants in this file shot from the Georgia Tobacco Hotline.


Georgia and Florida: Plantings began this week in Florida and Georgia. Acreage of tobacco in the Deep South (all flue-cured) will probably be down about 25 percent, says J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist in Georgia and Florida. That would be 12,000 acres in Georgia (down from 15,000) and 1,200 acres in Florida (down from 1,500). 

South Carolina: In the Pee Dee area, planting will begin very soon, says Justin Ballew, Dillon County, S.C., agriculture agent. Seeding got going in earnest at the beginning of February. "Most of our growers have clipped several times," he says. The only greenhouse problem has been an instance of chlorine damage in Horry County, he says. 

North Carolina: Field preparation and fumigation for flue-cured are running behind, says N.C. Extension tobacco specialist Loren Fisher, but there should be enough time if the weather cooperates. Plant development in the greenhouse may be a little behind also, but it looks like the plants should be ready by the time the fields are ready.

In other news...

What do you do with burley that hasn't been stripped yet? "Leave it on the stick," says grower Roger Quarles of Georgetown, Ky. "Let it go through a few sweats in June and then strip it in August. That seems the best way to handle it."

The burley storage plan meets some success. The U.S. Growers Tobacco Company (USGTC), accepted 169,000 pounds of burley in its program to take delivery, process and store burley tobacco from the 2014 crop (see "A strategy for marketing what's left of the 2014 crop,"TFN March I). Deliveries ended last week. "We could have taken in a lot more, but the word got out late," says Quarles, USGTC president. "What we took in is excellent quality and will make for a very salable strip." Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, the burley cooperative in Lexington, Ky., will market the burley, but the growers will maintain ownership.

The worst black shank damage in recent memory struck Georgia last year, but Moore thinks it will be much less in 2015. "Some of the new varieties like GL 395, CC 143 and NC 925 offer very good resistance to Race 1," he says. "Also, we have a new chemical in Presidio." With fewer acres planted, farmers will be better able to avoid black shank hot spots.

What will it take to create a recovery in the tobacco economy? Smaller crops and reduction in inventories would help, said Blake Brown, N.C. Extension economist, at the recent meeting of Tobacco Associates.  More favorable exchange rates would be another boon, and growth in the China market could offset continued declines in U.S. and EU markets. But what could de-rail a 2016 recovery? "Bumper 2015 crops, a continued weak global economy and weak and lower-value currencies in our customer countries relative to the U.S. dollar," said Brown.


  • March 31, 6:30 p.m. Barren County Extension Office, 555 Trojan Trail, Glasgow, Ky. Contact 270-651-3818 or 
  • April 6, 6:30 p.m. LYNC (Distance Training) This is a live webinar. Please contact your local County Extension Office to attend.


  • April 7, 6:30 p.m. Weston CafĂ©, 407 Main St., Weston. Platte County. Contact 816-776-6961 or

OHIO (Burley)

  • April 13, 7 p.m. OSU Extension Office, 111 Jackson Pike, Gallipolis, Oh. Gallia County. Contact 740-446-7007.
  • April 14, 7 p.m. Eastern Brown High School Cafeteria, 11557 U.S. Hwy. 62, Winchester. Brown County. Contact 937-544-2339 or 

  • April 1, 10 a.m., Southern Piedmont Center, 2375 Darvills Rd., Blackstone, Va. Nottoway (Flue). Contact 434-292-5331 or
  • April 9, 10 a.m. Ronnie Waller Farm. 3083 Golden Leaf Rd., Nathalie, Va. Contact 434-432-7770. Barn testing certification.
    April 9, 2 p.m. Thompson Farms, 400 Marvin Collie Dr., Ringgold, Va. Contact 434-432-7770. Barn testing certification.
Quality does not cost, it pays

Friday, March 6, 2015


Some burley is still hanging in the barn after unfavorable weather delayed stripping. This burley was photographed last October near Springfield, Tn.

An unexpected home for excess burley: The U.S. Growers Tobacco Company (USGTC), a subsidiary of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association (BTGCA), has announced a program to store up to a million pounds of excess 2014 burley for later sale. "USGTC will provide facilities where growers can deliver, process and store tobacco while waiting for prices to become favorable," says Steve Pratt, BTGCA general manager. "This will provide growers an option of retaining ownership of their tobacco to hopefully catch better prices for their leaf while avoiding the current very low auction market." Because little demand is expected for lower quality 2014 burley, only leaf receiving quality grades of 1, 2 or 3 will be accepted.

Any U.S. burley grower, whether a customer of BTGCA or not, may participate in the program. It will be the responsibility of the grower to deliver leaf to the Springfield, Ky., BTGCA station. An appointment is required--call Margaret at the Washington County Co-op at 859 336-3491. As it stands now, deliveries will be scheduled next week and the week after. The leaf will be processed and co-mingled by marketable type and grade.  BTGCA is donating the administrative costs, so farmers will only be responsible for the cost of receiving, storage and processing, payable through deductions from payments.

USGTC provided this service once before a few years ago, says Roger Quarles, a Georgetown, Ky., burley grower and USGTC president. "That crop took two years to sell, but I hope this one won't take as long," he says. "This is an excellent option for tobacco that has already been baled since it will be stored properly, free of any deterioration and fully insured until sold."

Deliveries have just ended for the Tennessee burley cooperative, and Daniel Green, chief executive officer at Burley Stabilization Corporation, says that despite the weather, there was some great tobacco coming in right up to the end. But some showed effects of the freezes. "Some tobacco didn't cure out in time to be sold," says Green. "The growers weren't able to get it stripped. A lot of that is still hanging in the barn, which is probably the best place for it to be if it doesn't have a home." For the coming season, the cooperative will only buy from its established growers, at prices that vary based on the style of the tobacco. BSC hasn't started contracting yet but a reduction in volume is certain.

Greenhouse seeding of the flue-cured crop is well under way in eastern N.C., says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "In the Piedmont, it is just starting. It's been slowed by extreme cold, snow and cloudy days." He recommends careful attention to temperature. "You want to be sure it is warm enough to permit germination but be prepared to lower it if we have a 70 degree day."

The N.C. Tobacco Foundation has created a new tobacco agronomist position in research, teaching and Extension in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University and named it in honor of Dr. William K. Collins, retired N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. It has also announced the formation of a distinguished professorship endowment at N.C. State University. It will take $10 to $12 million to endow both positions in perpetuity, and $7 million has already been raised from companies, organizations and individuals. If you would like to make a gift, gifts and pledges may be made securely online at http// or by sending a check payable to the N.C. Tobacco Foundation and marked "Collins Initiative" to Keith Oakley, Campus Box 7645, Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7645.

Plant production in Kentucky could be slowed thanks to the harsh weather so far this winter. "We had the most snow I have ever seen here (on March 4)," says Quarles of Georgetown. "I found 15 inches on my patio." Some greenhouses may have collapsed if farmers didn't heat them enough to melt the snow. The confused contracting situation isn't helping either. "Farmers are going to be slow to seed, and that may result in a later crop."


  • Zimbabwe may be down 50 million pounds: The prices on opening day of flue-cured auction markets in Zimbabwe were so low that angry growers stopped the sale at one auction floor, according to the Zimbabwe Herald. The assistance of law enforcement personnel was required to resume the sale. A projection issued by the national Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board predicted that growers are unlikely to produce more than 427 million pounds of flue-cured and may produce as little as 403 million pounds. Both projections are considerably below last year's volume of 476 million pounds.
  • Malawi may be down 20 million pounds. The Tobacco Control Commission of Malawi expects production of about 400 million pounds about 22 million pounds less than in 2014 because of heavy rains.
  • Canada was up 4.3 million pounds in the crop just marketed, with production of 61 million pounds. There were 241 growers, all in the province of Ontario, and they planted 21,670 acres. Contracting for 2015 is just beginning.
Making nutrients more available: Actosol, a humic acid product from ARCTECH, is said by its manufacturer to improve the soil and make nutrients more available to tobacco plants. "You can foliar spray it or apply through drip irrigation, and it can lower your dependence on other fertilizers," says Dennis Bickel, sales manager. "All your fields will benefit but your lowest performing fields will see the biggest impact of adding Actosol to your program." ARCTECH guarantees increased production, says Bickel. "You can't lose." 



Cross Creek


 209 Harding St., Danville, Ky.
PH: 859-236-4932

Full-service burley warehouse

Jerry Rankin, Owner


GEORGIA (Flue-cured)
  • March 12, 12:45 p.m and 2 p.m. Holiday Inn Express, 1636 South Peterson Ave., Douglas, Ga. Contact 229 392-6424 or 
  • March 17, 6:30 p.m. Ag Pavilion, 280 Bryan Rd., Rutledge, Tn. Grainger County. Contact 865 828-3411 or
  • March 3, 6:30 p.m. Appalachian Fairgrounds, Lakeview St., Gray, Tn. Washington County, Contact 423 753-1680 or

  • March 17, 6 p.m. Madison County Extn. Ctr., 258 Carolina Ln., Marshall, N.C. Madison County. Contact 828-682-6186 or Stanley_ 
 INDIANA (Burley)
OHIO (Burley)
  • March 26, 10 a.m. Jacob Fisher Farm-Woodburn Hill Shed Shop, 27735 Woodburn Hill Rd., Mechanicsville, Md. St. Mary's County. Contact or 919218-3495.
  • March 24, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Hoffman Building, Park Ave, Ouarryville, Pa. Lancaster County. Contact 717 394-6851 or
  • March 26, 9 a.m. Southern Clinton Sportsman Association, 55 South Sportsmans Rd., Loganton, Pa. Clinton County. Contact 717 393-4560 or

  • March 19, 10 a.m. Scott County Community Services Building (Community Room), 190 Beech St., Gate City, Va. Scott County. Contact 276-346-1522 or
  • March 19, 6 p.m. Adult Learning Center, 153 School Board Place, Jonesville, Va. Lee County. Contact 276- 452-2772 or