After the deluge: This flue-cured grower in the N.C. Piedmont near Winston-Salem had trouble completing combining after late-season rains. "All crops that were either ready for harvest or being harvested are in a state of decline due to the length of it raining," said Robin Watson, NCDA regional agronomist stationed in Burlington.
How much South Carolina tobacco was lost to the flood? The small amount (all flue-cured) that remained in the field when the storm complex arrived on October 1 is now probably a complete loss, said Tré Coleman, S.C. Department of Agriculture marketing specialist. "I don't know if any can be salvaged," he told Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. "It was not only the rain--we had high winds for two days afterward that whipped the stalks. And it might be 10 days (from October 5) before fields are dry enough to get back in. I would be surprised if any more can be harvested."
Losses will be limited in S.C., however, because no more than one to two percent of the state's 27-million-pound crop remained on the stalk when the rain started falling, according to Coleman. And what was left was in poor condition because of diseases. "We'd had perfect disease weather the last week or 10 days of September," said William Hardee, area Extension agronomy agent for Horry and Marion Counties. "There was bad bacterial wilt along with the sunscald that we'd had earlier." So even without the rain, the yield might have been very low. In some of the other states where tobacco was affected:
In North Carolina, flooding was not as extensive as in S.C. But there was much more rain than was desired. In the east, near Kinston, Alton Roberson was very glad he had finished harvesting before the end of September. "But right much was still in the field, and in the growers' opinions, they couldn't finish harvesting quick enough," he said. There was a great fear that leaf would turn to trash on the stalk if it stayed out too long. In north central N.C., farmers received "welcomed but excessive rains," said Robin Watson, N.C. Department of Agriculture regional agronomist stationed in Burlington. "Tobacco farmers are having a difficult time in getting their tobacco out of the field," he said. "All crops that were either ready for harvest or being harvested are in a state of decline due to the length of it raining."
In Virginia, Cynthia Gregg, Extension agent in Brunswick County, Va, in thesouthern part of the state, said minor flooding and ponding of water in pastures and crop fields were evident across the county. "Some tobacco fields have been stripped. Others still have some tips to be harvested. These fields are showing damage due to the excess rainfall." In Lunenburg County, about 50 miles west of Brunswick, some tobacco was pulled the week ending October 4, said Lindy Tucker, Extension agent. "Otherwise, no one was in the field."
October Crop Report: Volumes continue to slide, says USDA. The October projection for tobacco production (released October 9) puts flue-cured volume at 468 million pounds, a million pounds more than it estimated in September but 18 percent less than last year. It projected burley production at 152 million pounds, five million pounds less than it estimated in August and 29 percent less than last year. Among the individual states:
North Carolina--365.5 million pounds, down 19 percent.
Virginia--48.3 million pounds, down 10 percent.
South Carolina--27.1 million pounds, down percent
Georgia--27.3 million pounds, down 20 percent.
Kentucky--114 million pounds, down 30 percent.
Tennessee--19.2 million pounds, down 29 percent.
Pennsylvania--11.2 million pounds, down 11.5 percent.
Ohio--3.3 million pounds, down 22 percent.
Virginia--2.1 million pounds, down 26 percent.
North Carolina--two million pounds, down 23 percent.
Fire-cured--56.9 million pounds, down three percent.
Dark air-cured--17.6 million pounds, down one percent.
Connecticut/Massachusetts cigar types--4.1 million pounds, down one percent.
Southern Maryland--3.6 million pounds, down 21 percent.
Pennsylvania seedleaf--2.9 million pounds, down 21 percent.
Editor: Chris Bickers.903-9 Shellbrook Ct. Raleigh, N.C. 27609.
For an easy-to-read account of how burley came to east Tennessee and western North Carolina in the late 1800s, along with oral history interviews with some of the best of the older generation burley farmers, and much more, order The History of Burley Tobacco in East Tennessee & Western North Carolina by Billy Yeargin and Christopher Bickers. Send a check for $25 to Chris Bickers, 903-9 Shellbrook Ct., Raleigh, N.C. 27609. Questions? Contact Bickers at 919 789 4631or via email at email@example.com.