Bales of flue-cured on the floor of Old Belt Sales warehouse in Rural Hall, N.C., right after the last sale of the season on November 22.
Glad its all over: The flue-cured market came to what was for all practical purposes the end of its season on November 22 when the Old Belt Warehouse in Rural Hall, N.C., held its last 2016 auction. Much of the offerings at that sale and the one held the week before was sunbaked and drew a low price. But until that late-season slide, the price had held up pretty well, says warehouse manager Dennis White. "We averaged somewhere around $1.60 a pound, which was comparable to contract prices." he says. He estimated the practical top at $1.80 a pound. His farmers seemed satisfied at the auction performance as a whole.
The Piedmont got off to a terrible start when spring rains created what was in effect an early crop and a late crop...and the early crop got much the better growing conditions. "We wound up with 62 days of 95 degree plus temperatures, and that weighed very heavily on the later planted tobacco," says White. "The quality may have been as bad as 1977 or maybe worse."
Getting updated on good agricultural practices: GAP Connections (GAPC) farmer meetings begin in early January. Some dates have already been set (see below). "The meetings will be conducted in cooperation with the state Extension programs, as local meetings or as part of other regular events such as trade shows, association meetings and company meetings," says Paul Denton of the GAP staff. "Training will cover crop management, environmental management and labor management--specific to the needs of growers in the area--with a short update on GAPC programs and activities."
Does "GAP Certified" mean anything? The phrase GAP Certified has appeared from time to time since the training sessions first began, including advertising ap-pearing in this publication. Auction warehouses used the phrase the first year to indicate their full cooperation and especially their willingness to arrange GAP training for growers who didn't have access to meetings, so that they can obtain certification. Editor's Note: As far as I know, this never happened. That phrase should be eliminated. As Denton tells TFN, "There currently is no label of 'GAP Certified' for farms following GAP standards. Even for those growers who go through a third-party assessment, there is no score given and no designation of passing or failing by GAPC." Contracting companies can require grower participation in the program and affirm that their growers attend training and complete an assessment if chosen. "But they cannot accurately say that their growers are 'GAP certified' through GAPC because there is no true certification system in place," said Denton.
A followup report on international tobacco control: Despite attempts to bring their concerns before the current negotiations on the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) in India last month (see the November II 2016 issue of TFN), leaders of the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) say they have had little success. "In spite of our efforts to open a line of communication with the FCTC Secretariat and our willingness to cooperate and share our members' vast experience ITGA has been denied participation or even an audience with the delegates or the FCTC Secretariat," says Daniel Green, c.e.o. of Burley Stabilization Corporation in Springfield, Tn., and new president of ITGA. "We will keep you informed on this issue."
Outlook bleak for burley and dark: GAPC's Denton says his sources in Kentucky are "really" pessimistic about the yield and quality of this year's offerings. "One dark representative thinks the dark-fired crop could be off by half, and the burley growers I've talked to report yields in the 1,500-pound range," he says. "There is some concern about high color due to dry curing conditions." But reports from Ohio and Pennsylvania are much more optimistic, he says.
Burley supply and demand balance improved greatly over the past year, says Will Snell, Kentucky Extension economist,. That lead to "modest changes in U.S. burley contract volume for 2016, following significant reductions in 2015," Snell says. "Smaller crops in South America, Africa and the United States. coupled with a surprising [though] modest increase in U.S. cigarette production in 2015 helped offset the adverse impacts of a strengthening dollar on U.S. burley international competitiveness."
A quick reduction in flue-cured inventories: Large global inventories of flue-cured were problematic going into 2015 but had largely disappeared by 2016, says Blake Brown, N.C. Extension economist. The quick reduction was mostly due to excessive rain in Brazil in 2016 that led to the smallest flue-cured crop in over a decade, at just over one billion pounds, according to Universal Leaf. That was down from 1.26 billion pounds in 2015. Zimbabwe also experienced a smaller 2016 flue-cured crop because of severe drought during autumn 2015. Its production for 2016 was estimated at 438 million pounds, down from 477 million pounds in 2015, according to the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association.
DATES TO REMEMBER * December 1. N.C. Tobacco Day 2016. Johnston County Extension Center, 2736 N.C. Hwy. 210, Smithfield, N.C. Meeting starts at 8:15 a.m. and ends with lunch. * January 11-12. S.C. Agribiz and Farm Expo. Florence (S.C.) Civic Center. * February 1-3. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C. * February 3. Annual Meeting, Tobacco Growers Association of N.C., Holshouser Bldg., N.C. State Fairgrounds. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., ending with lunch (during Southern Farm Show).
GAP RECERTIFICATION MEETINGS
North Carolina (Flue-Cured) * January 4, 9 a.m. Martin County Farmers Market, 4001 West Main St., Williamston NC. Lunch will be provided. DOL and WPS presentations will be at beginning of meeting. Need 75 labor posters. Contact Al Cochran at firstname.lastname@example.org at 252-789-4370. * January 6, 9 a.m. The Farmer's Market, 1006 Peachtree St., Rocky Mount NC. Contact Art Bradley at email@example.com at-252-614-7815. * January 10, 9 a.m. Johnston County Extension Center 2736 NC 210 Highway, Smithfield NC. Contact Bryant Spivey at firstname.lastname@example.org 919-989-5380. * January 11, 9 a.m. Wilson County Ag Center, 1806 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson NC 27893. Contact Norman Harrell at email@example.com or 252-237-0111. * January 12, 8:30 a.m. Forsyth County Extension Center, 1450 Fairchild Rd., Winston Salem NC. Lunch provided. Contact Tim Hambrick or firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-703-2857. * January 13, 8:30 a.m. Granville County Expo Center, 4185 US Highway 15, South Oxford NC. Contact Gary Cross at email@example.com or 919-603-1350. * January 18, 9 a.m. Wayne County Extension Center, 208 Chestnut St., Goldsboro NC. Contact Tyler Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-731-1527. * January 19, 9 a.m. Lenoir County Shrine Club, 1558 Hwy 70, East Kinston NC. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Contract Mike Carroll or email@example.com - 252-633-1477. * January 20, 9 a.m. McSwain Extension Center, 2420 Tramway Rd., Sanford NC. Contact Zack Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org. or919-775-5624 3455. * January 23, 8 a.m. Caswell County Civic Center, 536 Main St., East Yanceyville NC. Registration opens at 8 a.m. Meeting will start at 9 a.m.. Lunch will be served. Contact Joey E. Knight, III at email@example.com or 336-694-4158. * January 24, 9 a.m. Harnett County Government Complex Commons Area 309 W. Cornelius Harnett Blvd Lillington NC 27546 Registration begins at 8 a.m. Contact Brian Parrish at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-8937530. * January 25, 9 a.m. Sampson County Ag Expo Center 414 Warsaw Rd. Clinton NC. Contact Della King at email@example.com or 910-592-7161. * February 3, 1:30 p.m. Holshouser Bld., NC State Fair Grounds, Raleigh NC (in conjunction with TGANC Annual Meeting during Southern Farm Show). Lunch will be provided. Contact Matthew Vann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-513-0904.
Virginia (Flue-cured) * January 17, 9 a.m. Southern Piedmont Center, 2375 Darvills Rd., Blackstone VA Registration at 8:30 a.m. Contact Lindy Tucker at email@example.com or 434-696-5526. * January 18, 4 p.m. Meherrin River Hunt Club, 435 Dry Creek Rd., South Hill VA. Registration at 3:30 p.m. Contact Taylor Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434-738-6191. * January 19, 4 p.m. Olde Dominion Ag Complex 19783 U. S. Highway 29, South Chatham VA. Registration at 3:30 p.m. Contact Stephen Barts email@example.com 434-432-7770 3459 * January 25, 10 a.m. Scottsburg Volunteer Fire Dept., 3050 Scottsburg Rd., Scottsburg VA. Registration at 9:30 a.m. Contact Rebecca Slabach at cbrown04@ vt.edu 434-476-2147. * February 15, 10 a.m. Midway Baptist Ch., Midway Rd., Phenix VA. Registration at 9:30 a.m. Contact Bob Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434-542-5884.