Sunday, January 27, 2019

THE SOUTHERN FARM SHOW RETURNS TO RALEIGH



Here is the January III issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. If you haven't signed on to receive the newsletter regularly or if you need to change an address, please click on "Join our mailing list" and follow the prompts. For more information, you can call me at 919-789-4631 or email me at cebickers@aol.com. 
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Farm machinery on the floor of Dorton Arena at the N.C. State Fairgrounds at last year's Southern Farm Show. (Photo credit: Chris Bickers)

The Southern Farm Show starts Wednesday, January 30, and runs through Friday at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Gates open at 9 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Admission is free and there is no charge for parking. There will be some new exhibitors, including the Spapperi company of Italy, which will have setters on display and may also demonstrate one of its flue-cured mechanical harvesters. Booth 9004. For more information about the Show, go to https://southernshows.com.  See list of tobacco-related exhibitors below.

Growers meet: The annual meeting of the Tobacco Growers Association will take place at the show on Friday, February 1. It starts at 10 a.m. in the HolshouserBuilding and ends at lunch. GAP training will be available afterward.

Finally, hemp legalized! The 2018 Farm Bill has opened the way for southern farmers to get into industrial hemp production, once the individual states submit plans to regulate production of the crop.

Kentucky leads the way. Kentucky has already applied to USDA to approve its hemp program, and is the first state in the nation to do so, thanks to the commitment of Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. "Kentucky's regulatory framework perfectly aligns with the requirements spelled out in the [new] farm bill," Commissioner Quarles said. "Now we are eager to take the next step toward solidifying Kentucky's position as the epicenter of industrial hemp production and processing in the United States."

More than 1,000 Kentucky farmers have applied to participate in the program in 2019. In 2018, farmers in the program grew more than 6,700 acres, more than double the acreage grown in 2017. Other states are seeking USDA approval also.


An opposing opinion. A leaf merchant has responded to the story "Our Competitors Expand..." in  last week's issue of  this newsletter. His response follows. (The author requests anonymity): While it is true that our competitors (at least some of them) are expanding production, it is doubtful that this has anything to do with reduced production in the U.S. Why? 
  • First, the increases are occurring mainly in African countries that do not effectively control production. 
  • Second, tobacco is the highest earning agricultural crop in those countries, and these are in countries where unemployment is generally high and where many small farmers can barely subsist on production of small quantities of other crops.
Instead, the decline in the U.S. for flue-cured leaf most likely reflects the ongoing downward trend in U.S. cigarette consumption and the absence of Chinese purchases due to the ongoing trade war. The downtrend is also impacting U.S. burley production and sales as are declines worldwide in consumption of American blend cigarettes.

SOUTHERN FARM SHOW
EXHIBITOR LISTINGS (TOBACCO RELATED)

Jim Graham Bldg.  
  • 222 Evans Mactavish Agricraft.
  • 227 Kelley Mfg. Co. Agricultural equipment.
  • 704 (also 8131) Agri Supply. Agricultural materials.
  • 807 Mechanical Transplanter Co. Transplanters, seeding equipment.
  • 808 BulkTobac (Gas Fired Products). Curing equipment and controls.
Kerr Scott Bldg. 
  •  
  • 1002 TriEst Ag Group. Fumigation supplies.
  • 1015 Yara North America. Fertility products.
  • 1107 Flue Cured Tobacco Services. Curing controls.
  • 1104 GoldLeaf Seed Co. Tobacco seed.
  • 1114 BeltWide Inc. Transplant technology.
  • 1115 Transplant Systems. Greenhouse systems.  
  • 1116 Cross Creek Seed. Tobacco seed.
  • 1121 AAA Scale Co.
  • 1201 Carolina Greenhouse & Soil Company.
  • 1202 Reddick Equipment Company Inc.
  • 1302 Mid-Atlantic Irrigation Co.
Exposition Bldg.
  • 3127&8611 Benchmark Buildings & Irrigation. Transplanters/irrigation.
  • 3135 Southern Container Corporation of Wilson. Bale sheets and packaging.  
  • 3311 Flame Engineering. Weed control with flame.
  • 3520 First Products Inc. Fertilizer boxes for cultivators and tool bars.
  • 3605 MarCo Mfg. Tobacco machinery.
  • 3714 Suretrol Manufacturing. Curing Controls
  • 4018 Conklin Company. AgroVantage System to boost genetic potential.
  • 4035 Bio-Organic Catalyst.
Scott Tent
  • 7025 Drexel Chemical Company. Sucker control chemicals.
  • 7027 ABI Irrigation. Irrigation equipment.
 Tent 1
Outdoors
  • 8039 Vause Equipment Co. Farm equipment.
  • 8206 Wilson Manufacturing. Farm trailers
  • 8204 Equipmax. Tobacco spray equipment.
  • 8217 Granville Equipment. Tobacco Machinery.
  • 8228 World Tobacco. Bulk fertilizer handling equipment. Curing barns.
  • 8301 De Cloet SRL. Tobacco machinery.
  • 8510 Walters Air Assist Plant Release System. Plant release system. 
  • 8516 Mobilift of Burlington, N.C. Forklift sales and service.
  • 8546 & 227 Kelley Mfg. Co. Agricultural equipment.
  • 8701 Tytun Ltd. Bulk flue-curing barns.
  • 8705 Long Tobacco Barn Co. Bulk tobacco curing barns.
  • 9004 Spapperi (Italy). Setters and other tobacco mechanization.

DATES TO REMEMBER
  • January 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
  • January 31, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C. 
  • February 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
  • February 1, 10 a.m.--1 p.m. Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. Annual Meeting, Holshouser Building, N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C. (in conjunction with Southern Farm Show).
  • February 5, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. CST. TN-KY Tobacco Expo. Robertson County Fair, 4635 Highway 41 N, Springfield, Tn.

Friday, January 25, 2019

AS WE REDUCE PLANTINGS, OUR COMPETITORS EXPAND


Buyers consider the price of leaf in this file photo of a Zimbabwean tobacco market. (Photo courtesy of TIMB Zimbabwe.)


Fifty percent more tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe this year--Farmers have increased the area in flue-cured this year, and there is hope of surpassing last year's record volume of 252 million kilograms. But it is no sure thing: Very dry conditions are being predicted. According to government statistics through the end of last year, 168,735 farmers had registered to grow tobacco, an increase of almost half when compared to the 113,530 farmers who registered in the previous season.There could be some more. Note: Harvest and curing has begun in Zimbabwe, and marketing will likely start in March.



EDITOR'S NOTE:This is the January II issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. If you would like to receive the newsletter regularly or if you need to change an address, please email meat chrisbickers@gmail.com. For more information, call me at 919 789 4631

A highly aggressive new species of root-knot nematode poses a threat to tobacco in the flue-cured states. The species known as Meloidogyne enterolobii or guava root-knot nema-todes. "It is very successful at causing infection, with high rates of infection on the roots of host plants, and it causes more severe galling on host plants than other nematodes," says Lindsey Thiessen, North Carolina Extension plant pathologist. 

Guava root-knot has been identified in eight counties in N.C. (see map). It has a wide host range, spreads rapidly, reproduces swiftly, and breaks down any available resistance to other nematode species. But it's very fast reproduction may be the
Guava root knot nematode distribution in North Carolina
biggest problem it poses for farmers. Yield losses can be substantial, and it can pull nutrients away from foliage, causing wilting and reductions in quality.

Sweet potatoes are also vulnerable to guava root-knot nematode. In October, the N.C. Department of Agriculture quarantined sweet potato seed or sweet potato plants with or without roots produced anywhere in the state, because of the occurrence of guava root-knot.

A new organic nematicide chemical could help you control nematodes and suppress wireworms, says the manufacturer, Marrone Bio. Majestene BioNematicide is derived from a single microbe and controls root-knot, dagger, burrowing, sting, cyst and other nematodes on tobacco. Majestene offers an advantage: It allows more flexibility than some existing nematicides because there is no waiting period after application. The first application of Majestene might go in-furrow in the transplant water. "Then apply again if needed at first cultivation," says Hal Blackmore, southeast territorialsales manager for Marrone Bio. "If needed, they could apply again at layby." To find out more about Majestene, call 904 570 0041.

Leaving tobacco: Don Fowlkes, who has since 2016 has been an agronomist with Burley Stabilization Corporation in Greeneville, Tn., left at the beginning of this year to become the Senior Agronomist with Bluhen Botanicals in Knoxville, Tn., a CBD/hemp purchasing and processing company. Before joining BSC, he was Extension agronomist for the University of Tennessee from 1985 to 2001 and agronomy manager for PMI from 2001 to 2016. There are opportunities for leaf growers in CBD/hemp, observes Fowlkes. "Our tobacco farmers [in East Tennessee] are well positioned to grow hemp, and I want to help them participate in this emerging market," he says.
Referendum on export assessments: Flue-cured growers in North Carolina will get the chance to vote on whether to continue an assessment to fund grower export promotion programs. The assessment will be no more than one fifth of one cent per pound. Votes can be cast at local Extension Service offices.

In passing: Kirk Wayne (right), the longtime leader of Tobacco Associates, passed on earlier this month. He dedicated his long career to promoting exports of flue-cured tobacco, spending most of his time in recent years to providing what you might call "customer assistance" to potential importers of American leaf. In addition, he was a very astute observer of the international tobacco economy and served as a source of information for the editor of this publication many times. He will be missed.

DATES TO REMEMBER
  • January 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
  • January 31, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C. 
  • February 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
  • February 1, 10 a.m.--1 p.m. Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. Annual Meeting, Holshouser Building, N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C. (in conjunction with Southern Farm Show).
  • February 5, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. CST. TN-KY Tobacco Expo. Robertson County Fair, 4635 Highway 41 N, Springfield, Tn.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

COULD YOU MAKE MONEY GROWING LOW-NICOTINE LEAF?

Low-nicotine tobacco plants grow in a seed propagation program in an unidentified field somewhere in Central America. Photo: 22nd Century Group.

It would seem a tall order, but the land-grant universities in the tobacco states are looking for possible strategies that might allow you to address the proposed Federal standards requiring cigarettes with much less nicotine. Some production practices, such as reduced nitrogen fertility, might help. But Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist, said at the recent N.C. Tobacco Day that variety development will be a necessity for there to be any hope of reaching the standards proposed by FDA. And there is not much to work with just yet.

But one existing variety has very low nicotine levels, says Vann. LAFC 53 is a flue-cured variety that has been used in research in the past but never by farmers. It currently does not meet the minimum standards required for variety certification, so it has never been commercially available. That could certainly change. But unfortunately, LAFC 53 consistently performs poorly in yield and quality. Manipulation in breeding could conceivably produce an acceptable cultivar in time, says Vann.

In the private sector, one company already markets cigarettes it says are low enough in nicotine to meet the new standards: These cigarettes are made using its own patented low-nicotine varieties. 22nd Century Group, headquartered in New York State with a factory in Mocksville, N.C., is currently seeking Modified Risk status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its VLN cigarettes. 22nd Century has sold these cigarettes primarily as smoking cessation tools.

But where does 22nd Century get its low-nicotine leaf now? TFN has not been able to ascertain how 22nd Century's tobacco is being grown. But the company issued a statement three years ago saying a propagation program developed in an unspecified location in Central America (see photo) had been successful enough "to allow 22nd Century to greatly expand its tobacco leaf-growing programs in both the United States and in Central America." Watch for more details in future issues of TFN.

A billion pounds plus in Brazil? The flue-cured crop in Brazil is well into harvest. Two leaf dealers doing business there estimate production at 600 and 610 million kilograms respectively. That suggests a crop of around 1.33 billion pounds, which would be a little more than 2018 and about the same as 2017.

Brazilian burley is estimated at 143 million pounds, about the same as last season and about 20 million pounds less than the big year of 2017.

Western Kentucky didn't get as much rain as the Bluegrass of Kentucky and certainly not as much as eastern North Carolina. But it got enough to negatively affect yields, says Rod Kuegel, who grows burley and dark tobacco near Owensboro, Ky. The configuration of the land there makes intense rains a real problem. "We have flat fields in this area, and it is hard to get six inches of rain off of a flat field, "Kuegel says.

First ever bush hogging: As a result, he experienced an event that he is not happy to remember. "I had to bush hog eight acres of burley because of the flooding. It was the first time that I have mowed down tobacco in my life."

Reduced tillage may help: Farmers are beginning to grow quite a bit of no-till tobacco here, and the problems with draining flooded fields this year may hasten that trend...Dark tobacco is performing better now in western Kentucky than burley, he adds.

Tobacco may be losing its place in Kentucky agriculture, says Kuegel. "There is a lot of disappointment among farmers that we are still producing tobacco even though the price hasn't kept pace," he says. "I personally know many farmers who aren't going to grow burley in 2019. But dark growers seem determined to grow the type for at least another season."

In southern Ohio,  it rained so much  in 2018 that the area was left looking like a swamp, says David Dugan, Extension Educator in Adams County, Ohio.  One farmer located just north of the Ohio River near Adams and Brown County reported a total for the year of 74.67 inches just before midnight on December 31. Much of Ohio's burley crop was damaged. "In some cases, farmers said that they went ahead and barned tobacco that they should have just walked away from." Dugan said. He stands by his earlier estimate of around 50 percent loss in production for the state.

GAP GROWER TRAINING EVENTS
Check with your local Extension Service office for further details. All meetings listed here are free and presented in English. Note to readers: Corrections welcome.
January 8, 9 a.m. Winston Salem, N.C.
January 9, 9 a.m. Rocky Mount, N.C.
January 10, 9 a.m. Carthage, N.C.
January 11, 9 a.m. Smithfield, N.C.
January 15, 9 a.m. Yanceyville, N.C.
January 15, 10 a.m. Nashville, Ga 
January 15, 9 a.m. Blackstone, Va.
January 15, 5 p.m. Mayfield, Ky.
January 15, 5 p.m. Albany, Ky.
January 16, 9 a.m. Williamston, N.C.
January 17, 8:30 a.m. Oxford, N.C.
January 17, 4 p.m. South Chatham, Va..
January 18, 9 a.m. Lumberton, N.C.
January 22, 9 a.m. Lillington, N.C.
January 22, 5:30 p.m. Dixon, Ky.
January 23, 9 a.m. Yadkinville, N.C.
January 23, 9 a.m. Dover, Tn.
January 23, 4 p.m. South Hill, Va.
January 24, 9 a.m. Clinton, N.C.
January 24, 10 a.m. Sutherlin, Va.
January 25, 8 a.m. Kinston, N.C.
January 28, 9 a.m. Calhoun, Ky.
January 29, 9 a.m. Goldsboro, N.C.
January 31, 6 p.m. Lancaster, Ky.
February 1, 1:30 p.m. Raleigh, N.C.
February 5, 10:30 a.m. Springfield, Tn.
February 7, 6 p.m. Cynthiana, Ky.
February 8, 9 a.m. New Castle, Ky.
February 8, 1 p.m. Shelbyville, Ky
February 11, 1 p.m. Scottsburg, In.
February 11, 6 p.m. Vevay, In.
February 12, 6 p.m. Cadiz, Ky.
February 19, 4:30 p.m. Franklin, Ky.
February 21, 10 a.m. Fountain City, In.
February 25, 5 p.m. Clarksville, Tn.
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 5, 1 p.m. West Union, Ohio.
March 5, 6:30 p.m. Georgetown, Ohio.
March 6, 9 a.m. Georgetown, Ohio.
March 11, 10 a.m. Tifton, Ga.
March 12,10 a.m. Marion, S.C.
March 19, 6 p.m. Glasgow, Ky.

DATES TO REMEMBER
  • January 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
  • January 31, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C. 
  • February 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
  • February 1, 10 a.m.--1 p.m. Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. Annual Meeting, Holshouser Building, N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C. (in conjunction with Southern Farm Show).
  • February 5, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. CST. TN-KY Tobacco Expo. Robertson County Fair, 4635 Highway 41 N, Springfield, Tn.



Thursday, January 3, 2019

THE PROSPECTS FOR PLANTING IN 2019

Boxed tobacco is loaded in a Burley Stabilization Corporation warehouse in Springfield, Tn.

They aren't very promising for burley, say Extension economists at the University of Kentucky. Tumbling U.S. demand will likely lead to additional reductions in contract volume for 2019. The value of Kentucky tobacco production (all types) may struggle to exceed $300 million in 2018 compared to the average of $366 million over the past 10 years.

Effect on farmers?Look for continued concentration in the number of burley farms growing tobacco in 2019, given the current outlook, labor and regulatory challenges, changes in the products demand-ed and tighter margins.

Reduced contracting  coupled with an extremely poor growing season resulted in a significantly lower volume of burley. Beltwide, marketings in 2018  may struggle to exceed 100 million pounds, versus 140 milllion pounds in 2017.
 
To make the situation worse, even though global demand for burley is declining, world production was up by 15 percent last year. Overall demand for U.S. burley may only total around 100 to 110 million pounds given declines of four to five percent in domestic cigarette sales and five to seven percent in burley leaf exports. Cigarette manufacturers continue to invest in new reduced risk tobacco products, and these products likely contain limited amounts of U.S. leaf.
 
And the market for dark tobacco may finally be declining. After two decades of growth, sales of snuff show signs of leveling off, which can be expected to hinder dark tobacco demand.
 
Don't use plastic tarps when you transport tobacco, says Don Fowlkes, agronomist for the Burley Stabilization Corporation. "These tarps easily fray and become non-tobacco-related material in or on your tobacco," he says. "Farm supply stores carry canvas tarps that do not pose the same level of risk." Canvas tarps also last longer and protect better than plastic tarps, he adds.
 
Record low flue-cured production? A reduction in contract offerings for flue-cured is considered all but certain by market observers, and the Executive Vice President of the N.C tobacco growers association, Graham Boyd, predicted out right at N.C. Tobacco Day that the 2019 crop will be the smallest American flue-cured crop since records were kept. The 2018 burley crop is believed to have been the smallest on record.
 
More opposition to menthol ban. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), joined a number of tobacco state leaders objecting to FDA's proposed ban on menthol in cigarettes. "The FDA must remain committed to using a science-based regulatory framework in order to effectively reduce risks and minimize collateral damage that would ultimately limit options available to adults seeking an alternative to smoking," he said.
 
 
GAP GROWER TRAINING EVENTS
Check with your local Extension Service office for further details.
All meetings listed here are free and presented in English.
 
January 7, 9 a.m. Wilson, N.C.
January 8, 9 a.m. Winston Salem, N.C.
January 9, 9 a.m. Rocky Mount, N.C.
January 10, 9 a.m. Carthage, N.C.
January 11, 9 a.m. Smithfield, N.C.
January 15, 9 a.m. Yanceyville, N.C.
January 15, 9 a.m. Blackstone, Va.
January 15, 5 p.m. Mayfield, Ky.
January 15, 5 p.m. Albany, Ky.
January 16, 9 a.m. Williamston, N.C.
January 17, 8:30 a.m. Oxford, N.C.
January 17, 4 p.m. South Chatham, Va..
January 18, 9 a.m. Lumberton, N.C.
January 22, 9 a.m. Lillington, N.C.
January 22, 5:30 p.m. Dixon, Ky.
January 23, 9 a.m. Yadkinville, N.C.
January 23, 9 a.m. Dover, Tn.
January 23, 4 p.m. South Hill, Va.
January 24, 9 a.m. Clinton, N.C.
January 24, 10 a.m. Sutherlin, Va.
January 25, 8 a.m. Kinston, N.C.
January 28, 9 a.m. Calhoun, Ky.
January 29, 9 a.m. Goldsboro, N.C.
January 31, 6 p.m. Lancaster, Ky.
February 1, 1:30 p.m. Raleigh, N.C.
February 5, 10:30 a.m. Springfield, Tn.
February 7, 6 p.m. Cynthiana, Ky.
February 8, 9 a.m. New Castle, Ky.
February 8, 1 p.m. Shelbyville, Ky
February 11 1 p.m. Scottsburg, In.
February 11, 6 p.m. Vevay, In.
February 12, 6 p.m. Cadiz, Ky.
February 19, 4:30 p.m. Franklin, Ky.
February 25, 5 p.m. Clarksville, Tn.
February 28, 6 p.m. Maysville, Ky.
March 1, 1 p.m. Paoli, In.
March 19, 6 p.m. Glasgow, Ky.
 
 
DATES TO REMEMBER
  • January 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
  • January 31, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C. 
  • February 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
  • February 1, 10 a.m.--1 p.m. Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. Annual Meeting, Holshouser Building, N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C. (in conjunction with Southern Farm Show).
  • February 5, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. CST. TN-KY Tobacco Expo. Robertson County Fair, 4635 Highway 41 N, Springfield, Tn.