Friday, September 18, 2015


Loading leaf
Workers load curing barns with flue-cured leaf on a farm in Johnston County, N.C.

The September projection for tobacco production from USDA (released this past weekend) puts flue-cured volume at 467 million pounds, six million pounds less than it estimated in August and 19 percent down from last year. It projected burley production at 157 million pounds, the same as it estimated in August and a whopping 26 percent down from last year. Among the individual states:
  • North Carolina--357 million pounds, down 20.8 percent.
  • Virginia--50.4 million pounds, down 6.6 percent.
  • South Carolina--30 million pounds, down 9.4 percent.
  • Georgia--29.2 million pounds, down 15.2 percent.    
  • Kentucky--117.8 million pounds, down 28 percent.
  • Tennessee--20.8 million pounds, down 23.3 percent.
  • Pennsylvania--11.5 million pounds, down 9.6 percent.
  • Ohio--3.3 million pounds, down 22.6 percent.
  • Virginia--two million pounds, down 28.8 percent.
  • North Carolina--1.98 million pounds, down 25.5 percent.
Other types
  • Fire-cured--55.8 million pounds, down 5.6 percent.
  • Dark air-cured--16.6 million pounds, down 4.9 percent.
  • Cigar types--8.5 million pounds, down 5.5 percent.
  • Southern Maryland--4.2 million pounds, down 10 percent.                          
Vote on research in N.C.: A referendum of N.C. tobacco growers will be held onNovember 19 to ascertain whether they want to continue assessing themselves 10 cents per 100 pounds of tobacco sold --both flue-cured and burley-- for support of tobacco research and education. The check-off, started in 1991, has allocated about $300,000 a year to tobacco-related projects at N.C. State University.  The most recent referendum was in 2009.

A good start for organic farmers: Swiss Organic Tobacco (SOT) began accepting contract deliveries last Friday at its receiving station in Wilson, N.C. One farmer who delivered that day called TFN to say he was "well satisfied" with the sale. "It was graded fairly," he says. He estimated that he averaged $2.06 a pound on offerings that were mostly C1s and X1s and X2s. "The price is a whole lot better than conventional." But there is still some exasperation with the late start of the market season. SOT's station in Kernersville, N.C., will begin accepting deliveries this Friday, then Wilson and Kernersville will alternate on Fridays till the market closes.

Starving in the rain? The general media seem to have discovered the rainy season of 2015. Here are a few samples: From the Evansville (Ind.) Courier Press-- "They always say a dry year'll scare you to death and a wet year'll starve you to death," said Clay Troutman of Calhoun, Kentucky..."We've had a tremendously wet summer and it really hurt us." He grows 12 acres of burley and dark. And from TV station WSET ABC of Lynchburg, Va.--"For us to maintain our place in the world economy, we've got to strive for really, really good, solid clean tobacco," said Pittsylvania County tobacco farmer Tim Shelton.
Too much enthusiasm over energy tobacco? One of the most reliable economic sources this editor has ever had cautioned me about my coverage of the Tyton project in the last issue. "This may turn out to be a bonanza for farmers, at least those located near the extractors, but I would wait to get the full story before jumping on the band wagon," he wrote. "Price is the big issue relative to other uses of the land. And, what might be viable at $100 oil may not fly in today's low energy environment. Lots of questions yet, including the financial strength of the companies and their ability to pay." That is probably good advice, so I will leave it for what it is worth. By the way, I have learned that Tyton has an informative website at


  1. It has been a wet summer this year. I know I appreciate the tobacco farmers to keep my Marlboro e liquid in stock!

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