Three or four is better than one or two when it comes to harvesting. Some N.C. flue-cured growers were forced to cut reduce their number of harvests the last two seasons because of black shank or Granville wilt pressure. Vann urges three or four harvests this year if at all possible. "A once- or twice-over crop is not going to sell very well in the current leaf market," he says. "And non-tobacco material is also going to be a problem." He says an emphasis on quality is going to be N.C. Extension's focus in winter education programs.
A way to avoid tray washing: David Sanderson, farm manager, WF Partnership, Newton Grove, N.C., experimented with 600 Trilogy plastic float trays in 2015 and will do so again this season. The black trays offer one definite advantage over styrofoam trays, he says. They are much easier to clean, and you don't have to steam them. "It cost me about 25 cents each to steam clean our styrofoam trays, so there is a definite savings," he says. The performance of the Trilogy trays is quite satisfactory. "They wick very well, better than our styrofoam trays, and the quality of the plants is equal," says Sanderson. Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist, says Trilogy trays could offer some benefits. "Plastic trays should be easier to sterilize than styrofoam trays, and there is a longevity issue. It has been predicted that the black trays will last 10 to 15 years, possibly 20 years, which is much longer than styrofoam trays." There may sometimes be wicking issues with styrofoam trays but they occur mainly when they are brand new, he adds. For more information on Trilogy trays, call Ray DeBruhl at 919 610 7896. Or visit www.PlasticFloatTray.com.
Steam it yourself: Long Tobacco Barns has developed a system to sanitize greenhouse float trays. Called the Steaming Eagle, you can see it in operation at an open house Friday, January 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. at Long's manufacturing facility in Tarboro, N.C. The location is manufacturing facility located at 401 W Hope Lodge St. For more information, call 252 641 4796.
In search of a plant pathologist: The position of N.C. Extension plant pathologist with responsibility for tobacco is currently open. The new pathologist will divide his/her time between tobacco and other row crops that have not yet been identified but may well include cotton and corn. Mina Mila, who held the position for a number of year, is still on the NCSU staff as a teacher and researcher.
A vote on export promotion: Flue-cured growers in the Carolinas will vote on January 27 whether to continue their support of Tobacco Associates, the organization that uses grower check offs to fund export promotion and expansion programs. It must be revalidated in North and South Carolina in a referendum every three years. The check-off amount in N.C. is one fifth of one cent per pound, or 20 cents per 100 pounds. The S.C. amount is higher: one half cent per pound or 50 cents per 100 pounds. But board members have pledged not to actually collect more than 20 cents. The referendum will be conducted at county Extension offices. Allen Wooten of Burgaw, N.C., the farmer chairman of Tobacco Associates, urges growers to vote yes. "With domestic consumption declining, we depend on exports to hold our market where it is today," he says. And there have been successes. "We have had a very active program with Vietnamese companies since trade relations were normalized in 1996. Sales were zero then--now they are up to 500 tons a year."
The Southern Farm Show begins Wednesday, February 3, and ends on the following Friday. It will be held at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C. Entrance free. The annual meeting of the Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. will take place Friday from 10 to 1. Following is a list of tobacco-oriented exhibitors appears below. Note: This list may not be complete. Additions are welcome and will appear in the next issue. Submit via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Graham Bldg.
Kerr Scott Bldg.
UPCOMING GAP RECERTIFICATION MEETINGS
All beginning times are EST except as noted.