Best crop in Georgia and Florida in many years: Buyers have been pleased with the quality of the leaf in the Deep South, said J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. Weather was an important factor. Diseases haven't been a significant problem and the crop wasn't damaged by too much rainfall as it has in several recent years. Harvest in Florida appears complete while in Georgia, 88 percent had been gathered by the end of last week.
A report from the auctions: Prices on lugs were up some from last year at the first two auctions at American Tobacco Exchange in Wilson, N.C., Auction Manager Tommy Faulkner told Tobacco Farmer Newsletter before this week's sales. Lugs have made up nearly all the offerings so far. "The quality so far is good, but the crop is light. It definitely is not as heavy as normal to this point." The yield may improve with weather, he said. "But I don't see this ending up a big crop." For information about selling at American Tobacco Exchange, call Faulkner at 910 585 2708.)
Another warehouse begins sales today. Old Belt Tobacco Sales (336 416 6262) in Rural Hall, N.C., will hold its first sale of the season. Horizon Ltd. (252 292 8822) in Wilson and Coastal Piedmont Auction, Kenly, N.C. (919 284 0504) continue their sales.
Hopes dashed for sales to China in 2020: "We really had high hopes that China would be back going into this season, that they would buy some of the inventories destined for them in 2018," said Blake Brown, N.C. Extension economist. "Even if that didn't affect our 2020 contract, it might affect 2021." But there can be no more hope that this will happen this season. U.S. leaf sales to China (which are near-ly all flue-cured) had reached 60 million pounds in 2018. So the effect on U.S. growers was considerable when China stopped importing U.S. tobacco in 2018, Brown said. He believes they have largely met their needs from Brazil and to some extent from Zimbabwe.
Now, the outlook is cloudy. "I honestly don't know what to expect for the future," said Brown. "If China comes back on our market for 2021, that could help us in either 2021 0r 2022. It might not reverse the trend we are seeing in U.S. tobacco, but it certainly would be a big help."
REPORT FROM OVERSEAS
Zimbabwe production down, price up: The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board of Zimbabwe said farmers had delivered 179.25 million kilograms by the time auctions ended on September 1 compared to 233.6 million kilos during the same period last year. Note that much Zimbabwean flue-cured is sold on direct contract with manufacturers and dealers. Contract deliveries were still going on in early Septembers. Although this year's crop was smaller, stronger prices averaging around $2.50 per kilo helped farmers earn $460.7 million at auction, more than the $447 million they got in the same period last year.
Malawi down too. Sales in Malawi ended at the beginning of September, and sales were calculated at $173.5 million, 27 percent less than the $237 million garnered from last year's crop, according to the Malawi Tobacco Commission:
The Tobacco Commission's Chief Executive Officer Kaisi Sadala told Daily Times news-paper of Blantyre, "Initially we had anti-cipated producing around 154 million kgs of tobacco this season. But we ended up producing just around 112 million."