Presenting the tobacco picture: New N.C. Governor Roy Cooper got a painting of a tobacco scene when he spoke at the annual meeting of the Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. on February 3. Executive Vice President Graham Boyd (left) and President Clay Strickland made the presentation.
A decline in contracted areafor flue-cured seemed inevitable as February began. But there was still hope that burley contracts might rise a little from last year or at least hold about the same.
One estimate: The leader of the Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. (TGANC) said in an interview at his organization's annual meeting on February 3 that contracted acreage for flue-cured for 2017 might end up about two to eight percent lower than last year. But other reliable observers thought that was very optimistic. All projections were speculative at the time because some export buyers had not revealed their contracts.
Fewer farmers and less equipment were seen at the Southern Farm Show, February 1 through 3, in Raleigh. More coverage of the Show will appear in the Mid February issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter.
Those who attended the TGANC annual meeting on the last day of the show found that the news there wasn't encouraging.
There has been a real trend toward substantially fewer tobacco farms, lamented Clay Strickland, TGANC president and a flue-cured grower from Salemburg, N.C. "The attrition rate among N.C. farms is a concern. In 2017, we know there will be more farmers who make [the] business decision to forego growing tobacco. They are not retiring from farming but have opted to exit from tobacco as a part of their operation."
Niche producer? In the world market for tobacco, the United States. has become a niche producer, said Strickland. "We account for [only] about five percent of the world's total production. As we compete in that environment, it is imperative that we stand strong to advocate for prices that reflect our value." Price alone should not be the prevailing factor in purchasing leaf, he said. "Value should be the key determination. And value should be defined by the high standards and compliance guarantees that [characterize] U.S. leaf."
Nearly a half billion pounds of flue-cured: The 2016 flue-cured crop fell well short of potential, said Strickland. A very rough estimate of production might be 448 million pounds.
Smallest burley crop in 97 years? Daniel Green, chief executive officer of the Burley Stabilization Corporation in Springfield, Tn., attended the TGANC meeting and shared his estimate of burley production in 2016. "At most, it reached 110 million pounds," he said. "I have done some research, and I can't find any record of a burley crop this small since 1919, which is as far back as I could find data." Despite the poor yield, Green said it is a very useable crop, but thin. "With all the water we had, it grew very quickly," Green said.
Burley receipts slump: At the Kentucky Farm Bureau annual meeting held in December, Kentucky Extension agricultural economist Will Snell said, "Tobacco receipts [in Kentucky in 2016] slumped to their lowest post-buyout level, due primarily to unfavorable weather and curing conditions. A combination of much lower yields and a very poor quality crop will likely cause the Kentucky value of tobacco production to fall below $300 million in 2016."
A vote in favor of tobacco: Roy Cooper, the recently elected governor of North Carolina, attended the TGANC meeting and pledged complete support for tobacco. He said that he had grown up on a tobacco farm near Rocky Mount, N.C. "As a kid, I 'cropped' and 'primed' tobacco on my family's farm," he said. "It was hard work that gave me a profound appreciation for agriculture and the people who are called to do it."
In other tobacco news:
How not to reduce spined stilt bug populations: You can delay planting dates which will increase populations later in the season. There are some non-crop plants, especially alyssum, which can increase stilt bug density when planted adjacent to tomatoes and certain other crops. The insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis, is not toxic to the spined stilt bug, and imidacloprid has demonstrated relatively low levels of toxicity towards stilt bugs. For a fact sheet on the stilt bug from N.C. State University, go to https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/spined-stilt-bug-in-tobacco.
GAP TRAINING EVENTS
SOUTH CAROLINA (Flue-Cured)
March 7, 10 a.m. Woodhaven, 1963 Highway 76, Marion SC, across the street from Autozone. Contact J. Michael Moore at 229-392-6424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 15, 10 a.m. Midway Baptist Church 2595 Midway Rd., Phenix, Va. Registration at 9:30 a.m. Contact Bob Jones at email@example.com or 434-542-5884.
February 21, 1 p.m. Saddle Club, 710 Fairgrounds Rd., Scottsburg IN. Contact Megan Voyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-752-8450.
February 21, 6 p.m. Switzerland County Extension Ofc., 708 West Seminary St., Vevay IN. Contact Kyle Weaver at keweaver@purdue. edu or 812-427-3152.
February 24 1 p.m. Orange County Extension Ofc., 205 East Main St., Paoli IN. Contact Paul Vining at email@example.com or 812-723-2107.
February 22, 10 a.m. Pulaski County Extension Ofc., 18 Parkway Drive Somerset KY. Contact Beth Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 606-679-6361.
February 28, 6 p.m. Allen County Extension Ofc., 200 East Main St., Scottsville KY. Contact Steve Osborne at email@example.com or 270-237-3146.
March 7, 6 p.m. Nicholas County Livestock Barn, 1471 Concrete Rd., Carlisle KY. Contact Clay Stamm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-289-2312.
March 9, 6 p.m. Owen County Extension Ofc., 265 Ellis Hwy, Owenton KY. Steve Musen at email@example.com or 502-484 5703.
March 21, 6:30 p.m. Barren County High School Trojan Academy, 505 Trojan Trail, Glasgow KY. Contact Chris Shalk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-651-3818.
February 20, 5 p.m. Montgomery County Extension Office, 1030 Cumberland Heights Rd., Ste. A, Clarksville, Tn. Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Contact Rusty Evans at email@example.com or 931-648-5725.
March 6, 10 AM, Tifton Campus Conference Ctr., 15 RDC Rd., Tifton GA. In Ballrooms C & D following another meeting. Contact J. Michael Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or 229 392 6424.
March 8, 1 PM. Nashville GA Community Center, 102 N Jefferson St., Nashville GA. Contact J. Michael Moore at email@example.com or 229 392 6424.
NORTH CAROLINA (Burley)
March 30, 6 p.m. Madison County Extension Ofc., 258 Carolina Lane, Marshall NC. Contact Stanley Holloway at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828 682 6186.