Monday, April 16, 2018

What will happen to our Chinese market?

Spreading the word: Steve Troxler (shown here addressing the crowd at the N.C. State Fair a few years ago) and his staff at the N.C. Department of Agriculture worked tirelessly to make China tobacco a presence in N.C. What is he going to do now with leaf sales to China are in jeopardy? See his opinion piece below.


Editor's note: I have received many good opinion pieces on the Chinese proposal to substantially increase tariffs on U.S. tobacco and tobacco products. And a few more on AOI's departure from the U.S. burley market. I have picked six that appear to me to "cover the waterfront." But if you have something to say, feel free to email it to me at the address above. 500 words or less if you can.--Chris Bickers

Market disruption may not last long. 
Commissioner of Agriculture

We worked very, very hard to get China tobacco buyers to come to North Carolina. Now they have become our No. 1 export destination. And quite frankly, that hard work paid off. It stabilized the declining contracts that farmers were getting. The number one agricultural export now from North Carolina to China is tobacco, at $156.3 million. We value the trading relationships we have worked to build over the years, and we want to continue to strengthen these and other trade partnerships. I want to be part of the solution, and I am hopeful that none of this comes to fruition. USDA Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue noted that farmers are patriots--and that is true--but [patriots] still have to pay the bills...The uncertainty is what's driving them [tobacco farmers] nuts. This could not have happened at a worse time for North Carolina farmers, who are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Mathew and low commodity prices. We also have NAFTA negotiations ongoing and a Farm Bill in the works. We know there will likely be disruption for markets, but we hope it will be short-termed. We are going to have to wait it out. Nobody wins when you put a tariff on food.
--Steve Troxler, Commissioner, N.C. Department of Agriculture

Pointing fingers doesn't  help. 
Grower association leader

Agriculture is being dragged into this situation by the Chinese as a means of retaliation to try and assert political pressure. Since farmers and their leadership organizations do not have a direct seat at the table, we are somewhat disadvantaged. We have been relegated to a position in which we can only provide constant and accurate communications to our government leaders about the economic risks. In that process it is important that we maintain proper civility and professionalism in advocating for farmers' interests. Pointing fingers or calling either side bad names does not help advance our goals of emerging from this circumstance with market stability and perhaps even market growth. What matters most is that China represents an important customer and potential growth market for U.S. leaf. We need to be diligent in continuing to build that relationship based on trust and delivery of the worlds best premium tobacco. Our mission is to convince China that it needs our tobacco and to do everything we can to protect this highly valued relationship for the future.
--Graham Boyd, C.E.O., Tobacco Growers Association of N.C.

Is too much being made of this now? 
A flue-cured grower

I am not turning a deaf ear to the possibility that American farmers may suffer because of tariffs that might be imposed on our leaf and manufactured products by the Chinese. But it seems to me that it will be a long way down the road before anything happens, because much negotiations will have to take place first. Too much is being made of this now, and I think it is in part because of opposition to President Trump. Where was this media when the last administration tried to exclude tobacco in the TPP? That would have had as much or more negative impact than the current tariff negotiations. In fact, the previous administration did more than try to exclude. It actually lead the successful effort to carve tobacco out of the TPP agreement.
--Clay Strickland, Tobacco Grower, Salemburg, N.C.

China has far more to lose from a trade war.
A tobacco economist

It is difficult to say how much the tariff increases will impact flue-cured exports to China. At this point they are prospective: They haven't been implemented yet pending the results of high level negotiations underway. Those negotiations need to address some serious trade and investment issues with China that have not been dealt with by prior administrations. Specific industries like flue-cured tobacco may be impacted if the negotiations are unsuccessful. But I believe that China has far more to lose from a trade war than the U.S., particularly if other countries like the Europeans also join in pressuring China on trade.
--Jim Starkey, retired USDA economist

Incentivize companies to use domestic leaf. 
A burley grower

With the current situation and outlook for American leaf, particularly burley, we need to push for great incentives to domestically produced tobacco products using domestic leaf only.  We need a great tax incentive on the domestic tobacco used in the American supply chain, and a higher tariff on imports of leaf and foreign products.  We need to take back our own markets, and the only way we can is if we incentivize the tobacco companies to use domestic leaf to the point it is more competitive against foreign producers.  The quota system on tobacco tariffs needs to be renegotiated as it is highly outdated at this point. Tobacco farmers will have to band together in this and bombard our politicians with mail until we see the changes needed to protect our industry.  We must let all politicians know of the economic impacts if we quit growing tobacco, and how it would also affect the supply and demand balance of other crops as tobacco farmers continue to exit and enter other ventures.  At least this is my opinion.
--R. Wurth, burley grower, Lansing, N.C

China tariffs proposed, not enacted. 
An equipment manufacturer

It is important to point out that, though PRC has "proposed" the tariffs you mention, they are yet to be "enacted." The difference between proposed vs. enacted is an important distinction, as is President Trump's proposal to double down with an additional 100 B of tariffs on Chinese goods. The odds are both sides are blustering

ahead of what may likely be protracted negotiations. It is important to remember that Trump has a long history of making inflammatory statements before actually backing down, or even reversing course, following face-to-face discussions with his avowed "adversaries." The prudent thing for FCV farmers to do appears to be to wait and see, while holding their course. I also have some comments regarding Tom Blair's letter. Tom appears correct in his assessment that demand for FCV remains strong, as well as the fact that companies and leaf merchants will seek to buy tobacco at the best price on the global market. He is also correct in saying it's all about the bottom line. This comes as no surprise. All business people seek the best price, including farmers and agricultural equipment manufacturers. The trick is to balance price versus value. Tobacco company executives routinely tell me their shareholders expect them to buy lesser grades at the best price on the global market. In addition, they say that the United States offers the only reliable supply of the high grades of FCV they must have to make their blends. At LONG, we face the same issue of balancing price and value. When we seek steel products, we solicit quotes from numerous suppliers. We then go with the ones that offer the lowest price. With steel, we are comparing apples to apples. However, when it comes to other barn components (like motors, fans, and burners) we seek single source quotes from only the manufacturers that offer the highest quality of those type components, regardless of price. This way, we can maintain our firm's well-earned reputation for building the highest quality barns. Some farmers go with cheaper barns, some stick with ours. It's like everything in life, one gets what one pays for.

--Robert H. Pope, Sr., Long Equipment Mfg. Co.
In other tobacco news...

There are several new faces in state and Extension tobacco work thanks to recent appointments. Among them:...Jewel Bronaugh has been appointed Virginia  Commissioner of Agriculture by Governor Ralph Northam. Bronaugh comes to the
post from Virginia State University (VSU), where she was Executive Director to VSU's Center for Agricultural Research, Engagement and Outreach. She had earlier been Dean of VSU's College of Agriculture. A native of Petersburg, Bronaugh is a graduate of James Madison and Virginia Tech Universities...Zach Hansen has been named the new Extension plant pathologist for tobacco in Tennessee. Stationed in Knoxville, he is a graduate of Clemson and Cornell universities. His short-term goals are to develop new programs for control of frogeye leafspot and black shank. Besides tobacco, he is also responsible for Extension pathology work on specialty crops....Kaleb Rathbone has been appointed director of the N.C. Department of Agriculture Research Stations Division. Since 2010, he has been superintendent of 
the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. Rathbone is a native of Haywood County, where he grew up working on his family farm, raising cattle and growing tobacco. He earned his bachelor's degree in soil science and a master's degree in agriculture and natural resources management from the University of Tennessee at nearby Knoxville.  Rathbone began as a summer worker at the Mountain Research Station in 1999. He has served in several different capacities at the station since that time.


  • The Georgia-Florida Tobacco Tour will take place June 11-13. June 11, 7 p.m. Kick-Off Supper at Brown Lantern Restaurant, Live Oak, Florida. June 12, 7:30 a.m. Leave Live Oak, Fl., for farm visits. End in Tifton, Ga. June 13, 7:30 a.m. Leave Tifton, to visit the Bowen Farm of the Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Tifton, and farm locations near Douglas and Blackshear, Ga., ending in the late afternoon.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Another market crisis: Chinese retaliate with tariffs on U.S. leaf

Worsening outlook for 2018: Workers set out flue-cured plants on the Kenneth Dasher farm near Live Oak, Fla., on March 22. Since then, the odds of a profitable crop have declined exponentially after China announced it may impose new tariffs on leaf imports (mostly flue-cured) from the U.S., just a few weeks after Alliance One International announced it will not buy American burley from this season's crop.

Who's the real casualty in the China/America trade war? Tobacco growers, it appears. On Wednesday, the P.R.C. announced new tariffs on U.S. tobacco and tobacco products. I haven't seen the documents yet, but according to wire reports, tariffs collected on our unmanufactured tobacco would rise from 10 percent to 35 percent, while tariffs on cigarettes and cigars would rise from 25 percent to 50 percent.

The impact of increased Chinese leaf tariffs will be almost entirely on flue-cured. China's leaf purchases from the United States are almost entirely flue-cured. Little if any American burley is purchased, because Chinese cigarettes are almost all British blends, made up entirely of flue-cured tobac-co. Burley isn't needed ex-cept in a few American blend brands that China manu-factures for foreign visitors.

The biggest victim in all this may turn out to be the flue-cured cooperative in Ra-leigh, N.C. The U.S. Tobacco Cooperative has supplied much of the P.R.C.'s needs for American leaf since China first began purchasing leaf here in the mid-2000s. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I would expect that a substantial fall in Chinese sales would be a catastrophe for USTC. But if anyone thinks I am wrong on that, feel free to email at

I will have better information when I come to you again. I spent much of today trying contact my most reliable sources on international leaf trade, but couldn't reach any of them, as if they had all stayed home in shock. I will have more for you on the China question--and on Alliance One's decision to exit the burley market--in my next issue.

In other tobacco news....

Planting is on hold in North Carolina: Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist, says, "As far as I know, no tobacco has been planted in the state yet, butmany growers are ready. We have had some very cold weather at times and it would be risky to plant until you are sure it is over. I would think it will be around the middle of the month till planting gets go-ing, although there might be a few crops go in before that." The greenhouse sea-son went very well in N.C., and it appears there will be no shortage of plants.

PROSPECTIVE PLANTINGS: On March 29, USDA issued its annual projection of the number of acres of tobacco that will be planted this season. I present the projection below, but it is based on a survey of farmers conducted in early March. That was before the AOI and China developments, which might well affect planting intentions. But we can consider this a starting point.

  • North Carolina--158,000 acres, down three percent.
  • Virginia--23,000 acres, up five percent.
  • South Carolina--13,000 acres, up eight percent.
  • Georgia--13,000 acres, up four percent.
  • All U.S.--207,000 acres, down one percent. 
  • Kentucky-- 57,000 acres, down 10 percent.
  • Tennessee--9,500 acres, down 21 percent.
  • Pennsylvania--4,400 acres, down two percent.
  • Virginia--1,100 acres, no change.
  • North Carolina--900 acres, no change.
  • All U.S--72,900 acres, down 11 percent.
  • Kentucky--12,000 acres, up four percent.
  • Tennessee--7,000 acres, down seven percent.
  • Virginia--280 acres, up four percent.
  • All U.S.--19,280 acres, acres, up slightly.
  • Kentucky--5,000 acres, down 17 percent.
  • Tennessee--1,600 acres. no change.
  • All U.S.--6,600 acres, down 13 percent.
  • Pennsylvania (All)--1,600 acres, down 11 percent.
  • Pennsylvania (All)--2,200 acres, up 22 percent.

Letter to the Editor
A farmer's opinion on why AOI abandoned U.S. burley
I can sympathize with the burley growers. It would be great to know if AOI's international burley purchases intentions are reduced. Like you, I think there is more to it. Just like the flue-cured purchases in the U.S., it is not that the demand is down-it is that it can be bought cheaper elsewhere in the world. Therefore, they do it without regard to the economic impact on U.S. growers. Basically, the tobacco companies and leaf dealers care more about the bottom line than they care about U.S. growers!
--Tom Blair, Farmer, Pittsylvania County, Va. 


  • The Georgia-Florida Tobacco Tour will take place June 11-13. A partial schedule follows-check here for more details as they are available. June 11, 7 p.m. Kick-Off Supper at Brown Lantern Restaurant, Live Oak, Florida. June 12, 7:30 a.m. Leave Live Oak, Fl., for farm visits. End in Tifton, Ga. June 13, 7:30 a.m. Leave Tifton, to visit the Bowen Farm of the Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Tifton, and farm locations near Douglas and Blackshear, Ga., ending in the late afternoon.


Thursday, March 22, 2018


A disappearing breed? A burley grower and his crew in east Tennessee prepare a planter for the field in this photo from the TFN files. Attrition in the number of Volunteer State growers is likely, thanks to the loss of AOI contracts.

The world's number two leaf dealer, Alliance One International (AOI), has withdrawn from the American burley market, at least for 2018. In a statement provided to Tobacco Farmer Newsletter, the company said, 

"With U.S. cigarette sales declining at a rate of 3% per year over the past three years and global cigarette sales following a similar trend, demand for the U.S. burley tobacco crop has declined as well. As a result, we made a difficult decision to not contract any burley tobacco this year. We understand the economic impact of that tobacco has on farmers and their local communities, and this decision was not a reflection of the farmers or their crop quality, but rather the change in global demand."
Editor's Note: I just have to think there is more to this than the declining market for tobacco products, although I don't doubt that it was a key factorThere might be some issues on the supply side affecting all burley buyers. 

Excess production, for instance: Daniel Green, c.e.o. of Burley Stabilization Corporation (BSC), notes the current market environment for burley is very challenging. "In spite of the drastic declines in American Blend cigarette sales in recent years, growers have continued to produce burley because of the lack of alternative crops, resulting in oversupply," he says. "Tobacco dealers are generally very averse to holding any more inventories than necessary in the current climate."

And what about several developments on the national level?" Among them are the potential regulatory changes being considered by the FDA that might require tobacco to contain much less nicotine," says Green.
BSC is still working on its 2018 contracts, Green says, and will probably send letters to its members next week. "We will help them as much as we can."
There will definitely be a reduction in burley acreage this year. Will Snell, Kentucky Extension tobacco economist, estimated earlier in the year that the demand for 2018's
crop would be around 110 million pounds. "We could produce that much on 55,000 acres," says Green. "Last year, we planted 89,000 acres."

It looks that way to Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist Eric Walker as well. "It appears that we are looking at a planting cutback of at least one third, and that might be a conservative estimate," he says. "I am not aware of any buyers that might pick up the slack."

The hardest hit areas will probably be those near Hartsville, Tn., where AOI has operated its burley buying station. That would include Trousdale, Smith and Macon counties, all in Tennessee, and nearby Allen County, Ky. Note: Macon has been America's leading burley-producing county in recent years.

A state of shock 
for Tennessee growers"It was like somebody just dropped a bomb," said Macon County grower Cynthia Jones, in an interview with the Macon County Times. "Nobody was expecting it. There was no warning. Everybody is devastated." The commissioner of agriculture took  notice too. "It is heart-breaking to hear the stories of multi-generational operations being forced to shift production focus or cease operations entirely," said Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton in a statement. "Many are now facing difficult decisions that will affect their families.

The immediate impact of AOI's exit from burley will be much greater in Tennessee than Kentucky because AOI had already cut back on contracting in the Bluegrass state. "But this is a lessening of demand, so there will be increased competition among growers for the pounds that are out there," says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist.

Farmers should emphasize quality to retain the contracts they have, says Pearce. "Some of the big [quality] concerns this year would be reducing foreign material in cured leaf and keeping pesticide residues in line with industry expectations."

A demonstrated willingness to participate in GAP as much as possible would probably be a good idea. "Getting involved with the GAP Certification program that is being rolled out could help show a commitment to the tobacco industry. But certification may not be feasible for every burley farmer," Pearce says. 
In other tobacco news:

As expected, planting has begun in Florida and is expected to begin in Georgia soon after April 1. "Farmers here are preparing for tomato spotted wilt and black shank using all precautions available against them," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist who also handles tobacco Extension work in Florida.
In the Southside of Virginia, it's been wet and cool, so there has been very limited land preparation, says David Reed, Virginia Extension tobacco specialist. Fumigation has been delayed too, and some greenhouses haven't even been seeded yet. So, he doesn't expect much planting till the end of April or early May. 

Virginia flue-cured plantings will definitely be down. "It will be across the board, maybe five percent and probably no more than 10 percent," says Reed.

Check with your local Extension Service office for further details.
All meetings listed here are free and presented in English
  • March 23, 9 a.m. Hoffman Building at Solanco Fairgrounds, Quarryville, Pa.
  • March 23, 1 p.m. Hoffman Building at Solanco Fairgrounds, Quarryville, Pa.
  • March 26, 6 p.m. Nelson County Extension Office, Bardstown, Ky.
  • March 27, 12 p.m. Po Boy's Restaurant, Douglas, Ga.
  • March 27, 6 p.m. Gallia County Extension Office, Gallipolis, Oh.
  • March 27, 6 p.m. Laurel County Extension Office, London, Ky.
  • March 28, 1 a.m. Milton Shetler Farm, Harned, Ky.
  • March 28, 9 a.m. Ivan Hoover Farm, Leitchfield, Ky.
  • March 28, 7 p.m. Southern Hills CTC, Georgetown, Oh.
  • March 29, 1 p.m. University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
  • April 5, 6 p.m. New Deal Tobacco, Weston, Mo.

Monday, March 5, 2018


Clipped and ready to go, these flue-cured plants await transplanting in this file photo from eastern North Carolina.
There may be a crop or two planted in Florida this week, but most growers there will probably wait till March 20 or later, while Georgians will probably start in earnest around April 7, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia/Florida Extension tobacco specialist. "We will have plants in plenty of time. Farmers are already clipping on a regular basis." Most plants are of good color, he adds. There have been no issues with insects and only a little pythium.

Steaming is catching on in Georgia, says Moore, as a few commercial plant producers are providing steaming as a service to their customers. Farmers are still doing some rinsing of trays. But dipping or rinsing trays in cleanser is only surface cleaning, and it can't provide decontamination of pathogens embedded in the walls of the trays.

In Kentucky, a few steamers have been used but the traditional dip treatment in a 10 percent bleach solution remains the most common strategy, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist.

Another possibility: Trilogy trays have actually done well in Kentucky testing. "We looked at them side by side with other treatments, and there was little difference in performance," says Pearce. "The biggest issue is price, although it seems like the trays are durable enough to last longer than conventional trays. But many growers are reluctant to make a long-term investment."

A proactive approach to disease control in the greenhouse is a key to growing a quality transplant, says Pearce. Leafspot diseases are a good  example. "You need to begin preventive spray when plants are just big enough to cover the cell," he says. "Spray Manzate once a week, substituting Quadris one week."

A number of awards were presented--and one new grower leader was introduced--during the 2018 Southern Farm Show held from January 31-February 2 in Raleigh.

The Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina presented six awards during its annual meeting on the last day of the show:
  • Distinguished Service Award--Ray Star-ling, Special Assistant to the U.S. President for Agriculture.
  • President's Award--Brandon and Clint Strick-land, Salemburg, N.C.
  • Outstanding Director--Tim Yarbrough, a Caswell County, N.C., tobacco grower and past president of TGANC.
  • Lifetime Century Member -- Richard Reich, N.C. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Services Assistant Commissioner,  Reich retired at the end of February.
  • Extension Service Award--Hannah Burrack, N.C. Extension Service entomologist.
  • Farm Family of the Year--Rouse Ivey Family Farms, Duplin County, N.C.
The Tobacco Farm Life Museum presented two awards at its annual "Breakfast with the Commissioner" on the last day of the show:
  • Innovative Farmer of the Year--Justin and Holly Miller, Cherry Hill Farm, Advance, N.C.
  • Excellence in Agriculture--Bobby Wellons,  Tobacco Marketing Specialist, USDA AMS, Princeton, N.C.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture presented its export award during the Ag Development Forum on the second day of the show:
  • N.C. Exporter of the Year--Scott Farms of Lucama, N.C. Accepting the award was Linwood "Sonny" Scott Jr., president and co-owner of the farm.
The U.S. Tobacco Cooperative (USTC) introduced its new Chief Executive Officer:
  • Robert B. Fulford Jr., whose appointment took place the week of the show. Fulford previously was Vice President--Leaf Operations for Reynolds American Incorporated and earlier held senior level positions with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and with Brown & Williamson. "Robert has a track record of strong leadership, [which when] combined with his deep industry knowledge, makes him uniquely qualified to lead USTC successfully into the future," said Andrew Shepherd, a Blackstone, Va., farmer and chairman of the USTC board. Ed Kacsuta, USTC's Chief Financial Officer, said Fulford is the best choice to lead the cooperative. "He has been a successful executive, and more importantly, he's a great fit with our culture and core values. We're delighted that he has accepted the position." 
(Note: This piece appeared in slightly different form in an earlier edition.)

Sunday, February 25, 2018


A new tool for transplanting: This new FMax transplanter from Ferrari in Italy, seen here on display at the recent Southern Farm Show, can plant continuously on different soil types without requiring an adjustment. "You can run from red clay to sand without missing a lick," says Don Watkins of Granville Equipment, which is distributing the transplanter in the U.S. It can be built for two to eight rows, he adds. 

Seeding is well under way in eastern North Carolina, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. And it is getting started in the west, he adds. "It is going pretty well so far. The ambient air temperatures have been good." 

The only problem: Overcast conditions have reduced the light available for germination. "We like to see four or five consecutive days of clear, sunny skies when we seed," says Vann. "However, cloudy conditions do not seem to have caused any major issues to date."

When will transplanting begin in N.C.? To this point, one might expect that plants will get to the field in a timely manner, starting maybe April 15 to 20. "But we usually have some growers who want to get out sooner," Vann says.

Report from Ontario: Contracting is for the most part complete in Canada's tobacco-growing area of southern Ontario, says David VanDeVelde, flue-cured grower in Delhi, Ontario. Official statistics won't be available for a while, but VanDeVelde believes acreage pla-nted will be down slightly from 2017, when 193 growers contracted for 18,491 acres. In 2016, 195 growers contracted for 15,353 acres. VanDeVelde is the new chair of Ontario Flue Cured Tobacco Growers marketing board.

North of the border, labor is out of sight: Quite a few Canadian tobacco growers attended the  Southern Farm Show in Raleigh earlier this month. Among them were Paul and Desiree Arva of Mount Pleasant, Ontario, who came down from Canada looking for labor-saving tobacco machinery. "We just had a big increase in in the minimum wage," they said. "We need to find any way we can to reduce the labor we need to produce a crop." 

VanDeVelde confirmed Arva's report, noting that there had been a 23 percent increase in Canada's minimum wage in the past year. "Farmers are definitely looking for labor-saving equipment." Most tobacco labor is brought in from the Caribbean and Mexico. All Canada's tobacco, by the way, is flue-cured. Substantially all of it is grown in Ontario.

Zimbabwe down: Plantings of the 2017/18 tobacco crop in Zimbabwe is down 5.5 percent from the same period last year, to 104,397 hectares, according to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board in that country. The decline is largely attributed to the late onset of rains in the previous summer, when planting takes place. Flue-cured is the leading type in Zimbabwe.

Malawi suffering drought: Thanks to an intense drought, Malawi's tobacco production for this year was estimated at about 149 million kilograms in January, almost 12.8 percent less than international market demand, a national survey showed. Another survey will be released in March, and there is some optimism about what it will say. "At the time of assessment, much of the crop, especially in the Southern Region, was affected by the dry spell," said Kaisi Sadala, chief executive officer of the Tobacco Control Commission. "We are expecting that, with the advent of rainfall now, the picture should be different when we are doing the last crop assessment." Last year, the country grew about 124 million kg of all types of tobacco. Burley is by far the leading type.

Industry report: Vaping benign? A public health agency in England created a controversy a few weeks ago when it issued a review of the available evidence that concluded that vaping poses only a fraction of the health risk of tobacco smoking and should be encouraged among smokers seeking health benefits. Unfortunately, that doesn't help tobacco farmers because vaping products contain essentially no tobacco.

Date To Remember: On March 2 at 10 a.m., the annual meeting of Tobacco Associates Inc. will take place at the Wilson County Agricultural Center, 1806 S. Goldsboro St., Wilson, N.C.

Check with your local Extension Service office for further details.
All meetings listed here are free and presented in English.
  • February 26, 4 p.m. Central City, Ky.
  • February 26, 6 p.m. Lafayette, Tn.
  • February 26, 6 p.m. Bowling Green, Ky.
  • February 27, 10:30 a.m. Morehead, Ky.
  • February 28, 10 a.m. Hardinsburg, Ky.
  • Feb 28, 10:30 a.m. Owensboro, Ky.
  • March 1, 10 a.m. Campbridge City, In.
  • March 1, 10:30 a.m. Hopkinsville, Ky.
  • March 2, 10:30 a.m. Lexington, Ky.
  • March 6, 2:30 p.m. Mayfield, Ky.
  • March 7, 6 p.m. Greeneville, Tn.
  • March 7, 1 p.m. Nashville, Ga.
  • March 12, 10:30 a.m. Tifton, Ga.
  • March 13, 10:30 a.m. Marion, S.C.
  • March 13, 1 p.m. Murray, Ky.
  • March 19, 9 a.m. Mechanicsville, Md.
  • March 20, 1 p.m. Quarryville, Pa.
  • March 20, 9 a.m. Quarryville, Pa.
  • March 20, 6:30 p.m. Glasgow, Ky.
  • March 20, 6:30 p.m. Gray, Tn.
  • March 20, 7 p.m., Georgetown, Ohio. 
  • March 21, 10 a.m. Wilson, N.C. 
  • March 21, 9 a.m. New Holland, Pa.
  • March 21, 1 p.m. New Holland, Pa.
  • March 22, 1 p.m. Turbotville, Pa.
  • March 22, 9 a.m. Turbotville, Pa.
  • March 22, 7 p.m. Bedford, Ky.
  • March 26, 6 p.m. Bardstown, Ky.
  • March 28, 7 p.m. Georgetown, Oh.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


With Dorton Arena looming in the background, farmers confer in front of the Company Wrench display at the Southern Farm Show on February 1. The display included the JCB Teleskid (just visible at left), the first skid steer or compact tracked loader with a telescopic boom on the market. It attracted a steady stream of visitors, as seen here.

How to sanitize float trays: Since the loss of methyl bromide, steam cleaning trays at a water temperature at 176 degrees for at least 30 minutes has become a popular strategy for replacing fumigation. At the Southern Farm Show in Raleigh, N.C., at the end of January, three brands of "steamers" attracted a stream of interested farmers:
  • The newest was the Agri-Steamer sanitation system from Evans MacTavish in Wilson, N.C. The Agri-Steamer offers 800- to 1,900-tray capacity with access doors at both ends that allow for easy loading and unloading.
  • Long Equipment Mfg. in Tarboro, N.C., which introduced its Steaming Eagle steamer at the 2016 Southern Farm Show, now is marketing a "second generation" unit called the Steaming Eagle XL, which can be operated at a much faster speed than the original Steaming Eagle.
  • Carolina Greenhouses of Kinston, N.C., entry into the market is called the Steamerator. The conventional sized unit holds approximately 840 trays. The company also markets a small steamer called the "Mini" for limited acreage. It steams approximately 240 trays per rotation.
There is another strategy for sanitizing. Beltwide Inc. of Tampa, Fl., makes its Trilogy Tray from injection-molded plastic, and it is expected to last longer than standard expanded polystyrene. The Trilogy Tray is much easier to sanitize: Simply spray with a high-pressure water hose or pressure washer. No need for a steamer. Belt-wide says Trilogy Trays are more durable. But cost is an issue.

A high-clearance spra-yer tailor-made for tobacco attracted a lot of attention at the Raleigh show. Randy Watkins, co-owner of Gran-ville Equipment, said the 420TS sprayer is fitted with a 420-gallon tank, a John Deere premium cab and a Deere diesel engine. It has three-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. A simple nozzle rotation allows for different chemical applications like contact sucker, fungicide and broadcast.
More on heat-not-burn products:  The Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. voted at its annual meeting February 2 to support--with a couple of conditions--the HNB concept. "We would support a product that uses quality U.S. tobacco," said Graham Boyd, the executive vice president of the organization. "But we want to see it manufactured in the U.S. of 100 percent U.S. tobacco."

One problem will likely arise if the industry con-verts to HNB, said Blake Brown, N.C. Extension eco-nomist, who spoke at the Tobacco Growers Associ-ation of N.C. Meeting. The requirements of HNB pro-duction seem certain to make it more expensive to produce. "Will buyers be willing to pay these higher costs?" he asked.

Editor's Note: Watch for more coverage of the South-ern Farm Show and the tob-acco growers meeting in the next issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter.

Report from overseas: Zimbabwe's export incentive for leaf growers has been raised from five percent to 12.5 percent for the 2018 tobacco marketing season. As in the past, the new incentive will be paid directly into the grower's bank account on a monthly basis, according to a statement from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The statement warned tobacco growers "to desist from selling their tobacco to middlemen, as doing so would result in...losing out on the Export Incentive."

First estimate of 2018 production: Universal Leaf issued its first estimate of leaf production for 2018 on February 6. It predicts:
  • Flue-Cured--The world total is estimated at 8,177 million green pounds, down three percent from the previous season. Brazil's crop is estimated at 1,322 million green pounds, down three percent from last season, while the USA's crop is estimated at 430 million green pounds, up less than one percent from last season. The PRC flue-cured crop is estimated at 3,858 million green pounds, down eight percent from last season.
  • Burley--The world total will be up 15 percent at 1,303 million green pounds. Brazil's burley crop is estimated at 165 million green pounds, up 6.6 percent, while the USA crop is down an estimated 1.5 percent at 143 million green pounds. The PRC burley crop is estimated at 143 million green pounds, same as last season.
  • Oriental--The world total is up nearly five percent at 392 million green pounds.
  • Dark Air-Cured--The world total is up 11.5 percent at 255 million green pounds.

Check with your local Extension Service office for further details.
All meetings listed here are free and presented in English.
  • February 19, 12 p.m. Carthage, Tn.
  • February 22, 1 p.m. West Union, Oh.
  • February 23, 1 p.m. Paoli, In.
  • February 19, 6 p.m. Hartsville, Tn.
  • February 20, 4:30 p.m. Clarksville, Tn.
  • February 20, 6 p.m. Sharpsburg, Ky.
  • February 21, 8:30 a.m. Lawrenceburg, Tn.
  • February 22, 6 p.m. Maysville, Ky.
  • February 26, 4 p.m. Central City, Ky.
  • February 26, 6 p.m. Lafayette, Tn.
  • February 26, 6 p.m. Bowling Green, Ky.
  • February 27, 10:30 a.m. Morehead, Ky.
  • February 28, 10 a.m. Hardinsburg, Ky.
  • Feb 28, 10:30 a.m. Owensboro, Ky.
  • March 1, 10 a.m. Campbridge City, In.
  • March 1, 10:30 a.m. Hopkinsville, Ky.
  • March 2, 10:30 a.m. Lexington, Ky.
  • March 6, 2:30 p.m. Mayfield, Ky.
  • March 7, 6 p.m. Greeneville, Tn.
  • March 7, 1 p.m. Nashville, Ga.
  • March 12, 10:30 a.m. Tifton, Ga.
  • March 13, 10:30 a.m. Marion, S.C.
  • March 13, 1 p.m. Murray, Ky.
  • March 19, 9 a.m. Mechanicsville, Md.
  • March 20, 1 p.m. Quarryville, Pa.
  • March 20, 9 a.m. Quarryville, Pa.
  • March 20, 6:30 p.m. Glasgow, Ky.
  • March 20, 6:30 p.m. Gray, Tn.
  • March 20, 7 p.m., Georgetown, Ohio. 
  • March 21, 10 a.m. Wilson, N.C. 
  • March 21, 9 a.m. New Holland, Pa.
  • March 21, 1 p.m. New Holland, Pa.
  • March 22, 1 p.m. Turbotville, Pa.
  • March 22, 9 a.m. Turbotville, Pa.
  • March 22, 7 p.m. Bedford, Ky.
  • March 26, 6 p.m. Bardstown, Ky.