Monday, May 20, 2019

NINETY DEGREE HEAT THREATENS GEORGIA-FLORIDA TOBACCO

.

The flue-cured in the Deep South looked good
a week ago, as in this north Florida field 
(above).But intense heat caused some 
sun scald (right, in south Georgia)to 
set in."About the only thing 
to do about it is to irrigate 
to make sure soil moisture 
meets the needs of the plants," 
says J. Michael Moore, Georgia 
Extension tobacco specialist.

A wave of 90-degree temperatures has struck tobacco in Georgia and Florida, and they are expected to continue for the rest of this week. They could slow the good start the crop had gotten, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. "We had a beautiful crop a week ago, but now the soil moisture is beginning to be depleted." Farmers are seeing some sun scald. "About the only thing to do about it is to irrigate to make sure soil moisture meets the needs of the plants," Moore says.
 
When you cultivate in intense heat, try to disturb as little of the existing root system as you can, says Moore. There is a danger of breaking turgor, or aninterruption of the movement of water into the plant. Much of the Georgia crop will soon be ready for layby.
 
But Florida is farther along: At least one Floridi-an may be applying contact sucker control this week, Moore adds. "This farmer had planted the second week of March," he says.
 
On the bright side,  Geor-gia and Florida have suf-fered very low levels of tomato spotted wilt virus and low levels of budworm so far. "There have been no other appreciable insect or disease problems to this point," Moore says...Transplanting is complete in both states.
 
Reports from the field (from USDA Crop Progress and Condition surveys): 
  • South Carolina--Statewide, 95 percent of the crop was transplanted by May 12. In Horry County, tobacco is reportedly doing well for this time in the growing season.
  • North Carolina--Statewide, 79 percent of the flue-cured crop and 16 percent of the burley crop was transplanted. In Alamance County, transplantingmade great progress last week, but that will be slowed if it doesn't rain. Tobacco is doing well. But there have been a few reports of seedling disease or possible herbicide injury in a few fields. In Franklin County, plants look good in the field with no ma-jor issues. In Craven County, isolated ar-eas of tobacco farm-ers had to replant a few fields due to strong winds and rains. 
  • Virginia--Through May 12, 36 percent of the flue-cured crop had been transplanted, 17 percent of the fire-cured crop had been transplanted 17 and 13 percent of the burley crop had been transplanted. 
  • Kentucky--Seventeen percent of the crop had been transplanted through May 19. Supply of transplants were reportedly 92 percent adequate.
Editor's Note: A bit of hope. This may be wishful thinking, but I just can't help but think the trade war with China will be resolved by market opening. Both sides--but especially China--have too much to lose. Even if it is resolved, there is no telling if China would buy any of our leaf from this crop. But I feel like they would, since their go-to source of flue-cured, Zimbabwe, appears to have produced a short crop. The Chinese could go to Brazil, but I don't think they like the Brazili-an government any more than they like ours. Cigarette demand in the developed world, meanwhile, has continued to decline, but at a more or less predictable rate; I am not very good at numbers, but it seems to me that if China did come back on the U.S. market to any significant degree, there might not be any excess of tobacco to meet the resulting demand. If our leaf supplies are short but are of average or better quality, the market could be fairly strong. But a bumper crop and/or poor quality could scuttle that faint hope.

DATES TO REMEMBER

GAP training events:
  • Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

TRANSPLANTING AT FULL THROTTLE




Workers load trays on a transplanter on a flue-cured farm near Raeford, N.C., in this file photo by Chris Bickers.

In fact, transplanting in the Deep South is done. The last of the Georgia crop was transplanted by April 27, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. Florida's tobacco had gone in earlier. "We have had good weather generally," he says. "There weren't a lot of extra plants, but we had enough."

The earliest Georgia tobacco was planted around the end of March and it is growing well, but tobacco planted after that is growing slowly. It has been dry the last two weeks, and that may have suppressed tomato spotted wilt. 'There has been very little tomato spotted wilt so far, but we may see more once it starts raining," Moore said. He suspects planting will be down about 30 percent when all is said and done.



Growers  in   the  Coastal Plain of North Carolina are transplanting at full tilt. The fields that have been transplanted are about a week behind average in development. That's partly because some growers delayed seeding until they had a clear idea about the contracts that were going to be available to them. "It has only been in the last two weeks that the conditions for transplanting were good," says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist on May 3. "We had warm soil, warm temperatures and the soil was not saturated."



Now, the crop looks good, says Vann. The southern and central Coastal Plain is leading the pack, as you would expect. The Old Belt will begin planting in earnest next week." The greenhouse season went really well and there appears to be an ample supply of plants.



In South Caroli-na, farmers in Horry, the leading leaf county, has had favorable co-nditions for set-ting plants and are doing so at a fast pace, accor-ding to Rusty Skipper Extension agent. USDA estimated  transplanting was 27 percent complete for the state as of April 29.



Good weather is helping Kentucky growers get into the field. "We have had a little planting, but I doubt we are up to five percent yet," says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "So far, it has been the best  start to a season we've had in some time." He thinks plantings in Kentucky may be down 20 percent.

Growers in Virginia had just started transplanting through April 28. According to USDA, Virginia flue-cured was four percent transplanted and burley and fire-cured were two percent transplanted.


He may be in a minority, but Scott Travis of Cox's Creek, Ky., still uses small balers to bale his burley. "I have three," he says. "I bought one big baler, but it didn't work out for me."

To go entirely to big bales, Travis would have had to buy two more big balers (one for each grade) and modify his physical facilities for all three to fit. "All told, it would have cost $50,000," he says. "In this tobacco economy, that didn't make sense." Besides, it's a whole lot easier to control moisture in the small bales, he says.

He ran into resistance from tobacco companies to the small bales. He has bypassed that by selling his crop at auction, mostly at Farmers Warehouse in Danville, Ky.

Bailey bails out: The small independent cigarette manu-facturer S&M Brands Inc. of Keysville, Va., has ceased ope-rations. Its doors were closed in March after the company was sold to an unidentified buyer, according to newspaper reports. S&M has manufactured the discount brands Baileys, Tahoe and Riverside, among others, for the past 25 years. It was launched by tobacco growers Mac Bailey and his son Steven. The Baileys will retain--at least for the moment--their leaf dealer business Golden Leaf Tobacco Co. No word yet as to whether Golden Leaf will participate in any of the tobacco auctions. They will continue growing tobacco as has been a family tradition since the 1800s.


The basics of hemp production, Part 4: Industrial hemp seed is quite sensitive to lack of soil moisture at planting, and it could readily contribute to stand failures. So seed should be planted in soils with adequate moisture to encourage rapid germination. This also impacts weed control: Without the availability of labeled herbicides, you must rely heavily on rapid development and closure of the hemp canopy to reduce or eliminate weed competition. Adequate soil temperature (50oF) and moisture at planting will help accomplish this.--D.W. Williams, University of Kentucky, and Rich Mundell, Kentucky Tobacco R&D Center



DATES TO REMEMBER

GAP training events:
  • Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY
__________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________


Monday, April 22, 2019

EARLY SEASON REPORTS FROM THE FIELD



A transplanting crew on a burley farm in Ohio prepares to go back in the field after reloading plants in this file photo by Chris Bickers.
Seeding in western Kentucky was held up in some greenhouses by a cold snap in March. "I delayed seeding until eight says after I meant to start because of those colder temperatures," says Shiny McLimore who produces commercial plants in Owensboro (Stanley), Ky. "We have had a number of warm nights since then, and now my plants are growing ahead of schedule. They are as big as if not bigger than neighbors who seeded earlier."

Weather definitely affects germination in the greenhouse, according to the N.C. Extension tobacco team. Cool, cloudy conditions of the type reported in Kentucky in March can delay germination. But unseasonably warm temperatures in February and March can increase the rate of plant growth, causing problems with stem and root diseases, particularly if the seeds are planted in the greenhouse too early. Consult weather forecasts before seeding.

Following: Field dispatches through mid-April 
(From NASS Crop Progress and Condition Report)

FLUE-CURED
In Georgia, growers had planted 46 percent of the crop by mid-month while in South Carolina growers had planted five percent. Georgetown County, S.C., farmers began setting the week ending April 14, said Kyle Daniel, Extension agent. Heavy rain the week before slowed progress for a few days. In North Carolina, wet conditions continued. Significant acreage had not been fumigated, said Don Nicholson, N.C. Agriculture Department agronomist in central N.C. "Others are planning to begin trans-planting as conditions dry." In Virginia, planting was for the most part still in the future. But in Greensville County, Extension agent Sara Rutherford said beds were being prepared. Liming and fertilizing continue as the weather allows."
BURLEY
In Kentucky, intermittent rain continued to stymie progress of finishing field work, according to NASS. Three quarters of the crop was seeded in the greenhouse by April 14. Of that, seventy five percent of the transplants were under two inches, with 22 percent two to four inches, and three percent above four inches. Transplants were report-ed as in mostly fair to good condition. In Tennessee,  some sunshine and warmer temperatures have made things look better, said A. Ruth Correll, Wilson County Extension Service. "This has allowed field work for crops along with lots of spraying and fertilization projects."

Planting projections too high? 
I've received several comments from some members who believe the USDA projections were too high. "I believe that the number of acres of flue-cured will possibly be much less than USDA is estimating," said grower Tim Yarbrough of Prospect Hill, N.C. "Tobacco seed companies have said that their sales were down 35 percent to 40 percent. I think we may be looking at 125,000- to 130,000-acre crop." USDA projected 165,000 acres of flue-cured, 17 percent less than 2018; and 53,800 acres for burley, down 12 percent. 

________________________________________________


Zimbabwe market not improving. Through April 4,the eighteenth day of marketing, a total of 12.3 million kilograms of tobacco, mostly flue-cured, had been sold on the auction and contract markets in Zimbabwe. That was 62 percent less than had been sold at the same point in last year's sales. The price too was way off from last year: US$1.72 per kilogram so far compared to $2.76 per kilogram. Severe drought conditions during the season lead to an expected drop in production. Quality was apparently significantly lowered also.

Disaffection among farmers may be part of the reason for the low level of deliveries. Shadreck Makombe, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union, told NewsDay of Zimbabwe some farmers were holding their tobacco in hopes of better prices. "The opening prices were low, and they demotivated farmers," he said. "The buyer is saying this year's quality is lower than last year. But as farmers we are saying the quality is good. It seems they [buyers] don't have money."

The basics of hemp production, Part 3: Variety selection will be the key to success for industrial hemp in the south. One of the most important consideration is days to maturity. Varieties bred primarily for grain production could have significantly different maturity dates relative to each other and would have very different establishment dates for maximum yields and harvestability with standard equipment. Research varieties based on what you want to harvest--fiber, grain/fiber or cannabinoids--then choose varieties that are proven performers..--Derived from writings of D.W. Williams, Plant and Soil Sciences, and Rich Mundell, Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center.

DATES TO REMEMBER

GAP training events:
  • Apr 23, 6:30 p.m. Owenton, KY.
  • Apr 26, 9 a.m. Lawrenceburg, TN.
  • Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    




Monday, April 1, 2019

WILL THIS BE THE SMALLEST TOBACCO CROP IN U.S. HISTORY?

Prepping for the season: Rod Kuegel of Owensboro, Ky., (left) and son his son Clay load sticks on pallets back in mid January to have them ready for the harvest season.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture published its annual Prospective Planting Report, and the estimates for tobacco plantings in the United States are disturbing. Based on surveys of farmers conducted during the first two weeks of March, the report projects that tobacco plantings of all types in 2019 are expected to total 244,040 acres, down 16 percent from 2018. If realized, this would be the lowest tobacco acres harvested on record. For the individual types:·
  • Flue-cured--165,000 acres, 17 percent below 2018. 
  • Burley--53,800 acres, down 12 percent from last year. 
  • Fire-cured--14,740 acres, down 22 percent from 2018. 
  • Dark air-cured--6,900 acres, down 30 percent from last year. 
  • Cigar filler--2,200 acres, down eight percent from the previous year.
  • Southern Maryland--1,400 acres, no change from 2018.
Why dark is more appealing than burley: Rod Kuegel, a burley and dark air-cured grower near Owensboro, Ky., says he will maintain his tobacco plantings (both types) at 80 acres, the same acreage he had last season. But he had to think seriously about growing burley at all because of poor market prospects. "Dark is more profitable now. And the communications between the farmer and the dark company is better than with burley companies. I really think if it weren't for my foreign workers, I would switch to all dark," he says.


The basics of hemp production, Part 2: How to plant hemp: It appears that industrial hemp seed is quite sensitive to a lack of soil moisture at planting. Seed should be planted in soils with adequate moisture to encourage rapid germination. If soil moisture is inadequate for industrial hemp germination, it is likely still adequate to support the germination of many weed seeds. Without the availability of labeled herbicides for industrial hemp production, we rely heavily on rapid hemp canopy development and closure to reduce or eliminate competition from weeds. Adequate soil temperature (>/=50oF) and moisture at planting will help accomplish this.--Derived from writings of D.W. Williams, Plant and Soil Sciences, and Rich Mundell, Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center.Hemp


International tobacco report



Zimbabwe: There will be no bumper crop in Zimbabwe. Tobacco was damaged by an extensive drought and then by the well-publicized African cyclone Idai. The loss in production has been variously estimated as five percent or as much as 13 percent this year, industry sources said. That would place production at 485 million to 529 million pounds, both figures lower than the 555 million pounds that were grown in 2018. The auction markets opened on March 20 to lackluster prices.


Malawi: The market opening has not been set. An industry survey projected burley production at just under 450 million pounds, or just slightly more than in 2018. Malawians growers didn't suffer nearly as much from drought and the cyclone as their Zimbabwean neighbors.
Canada: Most greenhouses in Canada's production area in southern Ontario have been seeded, says Mitchell Richmond, Team Leader for the Canadian Tobacco Research Foundation.  In a post on tobacco, he goes on to say, "As the seed germinates and seedlings grow, pests, fertility and contamination due to drifting of pesticides may arise and affect the crop. Algae, black root rot, Pythium damping-off and Rhizoctonia damping-off are highly controlled when trays have been cleaned and steam sterilized at 80ºC (176ºF) for 60 minutes, and when beds are adequately steamed at 82ºC (180ºF) for 30 minutes at a 15 cm depth." For some pests in float trays, chemical control is not available. "Therefore, steam treatment is essential," says Richmond.

Awards for 2019: 

The Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. conferred six awards for 2019: Outstanding Director:  Jeffrey Lee of Johnston County; Farm Family of the Year: Pace Family Farms of Johnston County. Lifetime Member: Steve Troxler, North Carolina agriculture com-missioner. Extension Service Award: Rod Gurganus of Beaufort County; Distinguished Service: Larry Boyd, Foxfire Farms, Pinetown, N.C., and Lee Wicker, deputy director of the North Carolina Growers Association.
The Tobacco Farm Life Museum of Kenly, N.C. conferred two farmer awards for 2019:   Excellence in Agriculture:  Pender Sharp, Sharp Farms, Sims, N.C., and Innovative Young Farmer of the Year: Joshua Phillips, Son Light Farms. Kenly, N.C.


DATES TO REMEMBER
Last GAP train-ing events of the season: 
Wed Apr 3, 10:30 a.m. Alma, GA
Apr 4, 6:30 p.m. Weston, MO
Apr 11, 6 p.m. Bedford, KY
Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY









Thursday, March 28, 2019

THE SEASON BEGINS IN THE DEEP SOUTH

Farmers began planting in Florida and Georgia on a limited basis in the past week. Setting should reach full speed in two weeks. (File photo of Ferrari F-MAX transplanter courtesy of Granville Equipment, Oxford, N.C.)


Planting began last Tuesday around Gainesville, Fl., says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist, and started yesterday in Georgia around Jesup. "These growers had all been able to get Telone II in early, and with soil conditions good, they decided to ahead and set out," he says. All tobacco in both states is flue-cured.

Some more will plant in the next few days, but Moore expects that planting won't begin in earnest in Georgia for another two weeks. There might be a risk in planting this early, he says. "It is before the April 7 date we usually think of as the end of the
first flight of thrips." A high rate of thrips could mean more problems with toma-to spotted wilt.

The winter was mild in Georgia so there will be plenty of host plants for thrips to spread, he adds.
 
No planting has occurred in North Carolina, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "But it is safe to say that our seeding efforts are behind us in the flue-cured areas, although much of the burley crop remains to be seeded," he says. Flue-cured seedings in the state fall generally a quarter to half way through their development. Houses seeded around Valentine's will be ready for planting around mid-April, Vann says.
Flea beetles were an unexpected problem on burley in middle Tennessee and Kentucky last season, says Eric Walker, Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist.Admire in the green-house is a good stra-tegy, and a relatively newchemical,  called either Exirel or Veri-mark has given good control in field de-monstrations. But more research is needed.

A tool for tomato spotted wilt: Exirel/ Verimark is also labeled as a tray drench for tomato spotted wilt control and has been tested in Georgia. Some reduction of the disease can be obtained, says Moore, but more research is planned before any recommendations are made.

Cutting back to reduce hired labor: Tom Ingram, a burley farmer from Shelbyville, Ky., says he will cut his plantings from 25 acres in 2018 to about 10 acres this season. Scarcity of labor is the main reason. "If I make this cut, I will be able to 'barn' my
tobacco with the family labor I have," he says. "I have been able to find enough local labor to harvest [in the past] but it is just getting too hard to find them." H2A guest workers would be available but the farmer thinks he would need at least 70 acres to justify the management work that program would require. He doesn't have the infrastructure to grow that much.

The basics of hemp production, Part 1: Although industrial hemp has been touted as a low-input crop that is highly adaptable to marginal lands, maximum yields are realized with inputs equivalent to current grain production systems and on productive land. If maximum industrial hemp yields are your goal, select good corn land with deep, well-drained soils and plan on inputs equal to current grain crops. If maximum yields are not the goal, industrial hemp can be expected to perform on marginal lands with lower productivity and with reduced inputs much the same as our current commodity crops would.--Derived from writings of D.W. Williams, Plant and Soil Sciences, and Rich Mundell, Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center.

Happening this week: The annual meeting of the Council for Burley Tobacco, March 19, 4 p.m., Western Kentucky University Campus in Glasgow, Ky. Keynote speaker will be Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. To register, go to www.councilforburleytobacco.com.


GAP GROWER TRAINING EVENTS
Check with your local Extension Service office for further details. All meetings listed here are free and presented in English. Eastern Time except where indicated.

Mar 5, 1 p.m. West Union, OH
Mar 5, 2 p.m. Russellville, KY
Mar 5, 6:30 p.m. Georgetown, OH
Mar 6, 9 a.m. Georgetown, OH
Mar 7, 3 p.m. Central City, KY
Mar 7, 6 p.m. Greeneville, TN
Mar 7, 6 p.m. Abingdon, VA
Mar 8, 6 p.m. Ben Hur, VA
Mar 11, 10 a.m. Tifton, GA
Mar 11, 6  p.m. Springfield, KY.
Mar 12, 9 a.m. Murray, KY
Mar 12, 10 a.m. Marion, SC
Mar 12, 3 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY
Mar 18, 11 a.m. Lexington, KY
Mar 18, 6 p.m. Lafayette, TN
Mar 19, 6 p.m. Glasgow, KY
Mar 25, 9 a.m. Turbotville, PA
Mar 26, 9 a.m. Quarryville, PA
Mar 26, 1 p.m. Quarryville, PA
Mar 26, 6 p.m. London, KY
Mar 27, 9  a.m. Quarryville, PA
Mar 27, 1 p.m. Quarryville, PA
Mar 28, 9 a.m. New Holland, PA
Mar 28,1 p.m. New Holland, PA
Mar 29, 9 a.m. Mechanicsville, MD
Apr 4, 6:30 p.m. Weston, MO
Apr 11, 6 p.m. Bedford, KY
Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY




Monday, March 11, 2019

WILL CHINA BUY ANY US LEAF THIS YEAR?

The pressure is on for the USTC flue-cured cooperative (headquraters shown above) to deal with a whole season's production for China languishing in storage,


There's still some hope as this issue was prepared that Chinese buyers might return to the U.S. to buy from the 2019 crop, but not much, since they apparently bought almost no U.S. tobacco from the 2018 crop (NOTE: there are a few exceptions. See below). The U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, which has sold much of the American tobacco that has gone to China in the last 10 years, has cut its contract volume by 80 percent across the board and has closed two of its marketing centers, in Smithfield, N.C., and La Crosse, Va. Both were owned by the co-op. The Smithfield facility has been sold. La Crosse is up for sale. Marketing centers that will operate this season  are  in Wilson, NC; Nashville GA; Mullins, SC and Danville, VA.

A big part of USTC's problems arise from the unconventional way China buys tobacco here. Instead of contracting with individual growers, China communicates its anticipated need to USTC in the winter and the cooperative assigns pounds to its growers. Every season until 2018, the Chinese confirmed their order close to planting time. But last spring, the message was "Purchases suspended." Since planting was already under way, USTC honored the contracted amount intended to meet China's stated needs, hoping the political situation would change. But it didn't. Most of the 2018 leaf that USTC hoped to sell to China is in storage.

The exception to that protocol: China has contracted directly with a few American growers for most of the past seven years, including 2018. Reportedly, it honored those contracts, signed before the Trump tariff controversy, making those growers the only ones who sold American leaf to China from the 2018 crop. But, again reportedly, those farmers have received no contracts for 2019. 

Remember: Nearly all of the US tobacco sold to China is flue-cured, reflecting the fact that the dominant blend in China is the  British blend, made entirely of flue-cured. 

The harsh reality of 2019 is that the tobacco industry is in crisis. "But our tobacco farmers do not have to face this crisis on their own," says Darrell Varner of Versailles, Ky., the president of the Council for Burley Tobacco. "The Council is working across state lines to strengthen alliances with other tobacco organizations, including Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina and the Burley Stabilization Corporation. We all realize that there is strength in numbers, and if we are the voices for our grower members, it is important for all tobacco growers--burley, flue-cured and dark fired--to work together." 

You can find out more about the group effort to stabilize the tobacco economy at the annual meeting of the Council for Burley Tobacco annual meeting on March 19 on the Western Kentucky University Campus in Glasgow, Ky. Keynote speaker will be Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles.

Will hemp become a realistic alternative?  Thanks to the latest Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the controlled substance list, hemp may now have a place on tobacco farms, says general manager Steve Pratt of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association in Lexington, Ky. "Hemp farmers will now be able to buy crop insurance, apply for loans and grants and write off their [hemp-related] business ex-penses on their taxes like any other farmer." In addition to legal-izing the growth and production of domestic hemp, this new law gives each state the opportunity to oversee production." Added benefit: "Hemp farmers and researchers will now be eligible for competitive federal grants as well," Pratt says. But make sure you have a workable method of marketing it.


Editor's Note: I am beginning to get intrigued about the concept of hemp as a companion crop to tobacco. Reportage seems appropriate on my part, so starting with the next issue, I will include news on an occasional basis on the agronomic side  of hemp in the Southeast. If the feedback is good, it will become a regular feature. Let me know what you think.

DATES TO REMEMBER
GAP GROWER TRAINING EVENTS
Check with your local Extension Service office for further details. All meetings listed here are free and presented in English. Eastern Time except where indicated.

Mar 5, 1 p.m. West Union, OH
Mar 5, 2 p.m. Russellville, KY
Mar 5, 6:30 p.m. Georgetown, OH
Mar 6, 9 a.m. Georgetown, OH
Mar 7, 3 p.m. Central City, KY
Mar 7, 6 p.m. Greeneville, TN
Mar 7, 6 p.m. Abingdon, VA
Mar 8, 6 p.m. Ben Hur, VA
Mar 11, 10 a.m. Tifton, GA
Mar 11, 6  p.m. Springfield, KY.
Mar 12, 9 a.m. Murray, KY
Mar 12, 10 a.m. Marion, SC
Mar 12, 3 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY
Mar 18, 11 a.m. Lexington, KY
Mar 18, 6 p.m. Lafayette, TN
Mar 19, 6 p.m. Glasgow, KY
Mar 25, 9 a.m. Turbotville, PA
Mar 26, 9 a.m. Quarryville, PA
Mar 26, 1 p.m. Quarryville, PA
Mar 26, 6 p.m. London, KY
Mar 27, 9  a.m. Quarryville, PA
Mar 27, 1 p.m. Quarryville, PA
Mar 28, 9 a.m. New Holland, PA
Mar 28,1 p.m. New Holland, PA
Mar 29, 9 a.m. Mechanicsville, MD
Apr 11, 6 p.m. Bedford, KY
Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY



Tuesday, February 26, 2019

CONTRACTING PROSPECTS CONTINUE TO LOOK BLEAK

Streptomycin resistance in the Black Patch: Angular leaf spot on dark tobacco is developing resistance to agricultural streptomycin, essentially the only control measure for the foliar disease. An estimated 25 percent of the angular leaf spot in this area has some level of resistance, says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist for Kentucky and Tennessee. Planting dark varieties with some resistance to wildfire could help: Spread of angular leaf spot seems to be a little slower in them.
More bad news on contracting volume: U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, the flue-cured cooperative in Raleigh, N.C., has now cut its contracts 80 percent across the board for 2019. USTC's leading customer is China, and it took a hit when the Chinese elected not to buy any tobacco from the 2018 crop after the Trump tariffs. Look for more details on this situation in the next issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter.

Pratt
Goodbye to a bad year: The 2018 burley season is finally over, and most growers are glad to see it end, says Steve Pratt, general manager of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association. "Due to heavy rainfall, the burley tobacco crop last year has been predicted to be the lowest production on record since records have been kept,” he says. “Planning for the 2019 crop has started with lots of hope this season will only get better.”
 
But the market outlook is problematic"The demand for U.S. burley continues to decline each year as smoking numbers go down and cigarette manufacturers maintain their use of imported burley tobacco," says Pratt. "There continues to be a need for U.S. burley, but growers may have to adapt to new methods to meet those requirements.  That could mean growing less tobacco with improved yields and greater efficiency."

For dark tobacco growers, contract volume is definitely down. "Even though we had a good crop in 2018, the cut in acreage appears substantial," says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist for Kentucky and Tennessee. "A lot of farmers are getting cuts in the 10 to 20 percent range. I have heard of a few who have gotten 100 percent cuts, particularly with dark air-cured tobacco."

How can that be when quality was better? "It wasn't the best crop we've ever had, but it was definitely above average. But very little overage was bought at any price by anyone," Bailey says. "The dark market depends on sales of snuff products, and the snuff market has been leveling off for the past couple of years."

There was the usual rush to seed before Valentine's Day in North Carolina, but much of the crop remains to be seeded, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. He advises a careful approach to seeding the rest. "The weather we have been having is not conducive to seeding. You need four or five days of good light quality for good germination. The outlook for that is not good, at least not here in Raleigh."

By the way, angular leaf spot is rarely seen in flue-cured in North Carolina, Vann says. "Usually, we [only] see it following a late-season tropical storm."
DATES TO REMEMBER
GAP GROWER TRAINING EVENTS
Check with your local Extension Service office for further details. All meetings listed here are free and presented in English. Eastern Time except where indicated.

February 28, 1 p.m. West Union, Ohio.
February 28, 6 p.m. Maysville, Ky.
March 1, 1 p.m. Paoli, In.
March 4, 6 p.m. Gallipolis, Ohio.
March 4, 7 p.m. Falmouth, N.C.
March 5, 1 p.m. West Union, Ohio.
March 5,  2 p.m. Russellville, Ky.
March 5, 6:30 p.m. Georgetown, Ohio.
March 6, 9 a.m. Georgetown, Ohio.
March 7, 3 a.m. Central City, Ky.
March 7, 6 p.m. Abingdon, Va.
March 8, 6 p.m. Ben Hur, Va.
March 11, 10 a.m. Tifton, Ga.
March 11, 6 p.m. Springfield, Ky.
March 12, 9 a.m. CST. Murray, Ky.
March 12,10 a.m. Marion, S.C.
March 18, 11 a.m. Lexington, Ky.
March 19, 6 p.m. CST. Glasgow, Ky.
March 25, 9 a.m. Turbotville, Pa.
March 26, 9 a.m. Quarryville, Pa.
March 26, 1 p.m. Quarryville, Pa.
March 26, 6 p.m. London, Ky.
March 27, 9 a.m. Quarryville, Pa.
March 27, 1 p.m. Quarryville, Pa.
March 28, 9 a.m. New Holland,, Pa.
March 28, 1 p.m. New Holland, Pa.
April 11, 6 p.m. Bedford, Ky.