Saturday, August 27, 2011

When will U.S. Grower Direct purchase tobacco?

An employee at the company's office in North Carolina said earlier this week that opening is scheduled for "early" in the week of August 29. No other information was provided. A source in Georgia confirmed for me Friday morning that no tobacco has been purchased at the USGD facility in DouglasGa., and said he'd learned that there have been difficulties with cash transfers from the international banking system.  "I am told the money is available, but the software is not making the transfer," he said. "Dell technicians are to be on-site in Douglas tomorrow to fix the problem." He said he understood that the Douglas facility will be the first USGD station to buy tobacco.
A charitable assessment: Graham Boyd, executive vice president of Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina, gave USGD the benefit of the doubt in a report on August 18. "USGD is giving us every indication that it is serious about the procurement obligation for this crop," he wrote. "I can report that the new [USGD] station in Louisburg is ready and fully operational with the exception of the computer situation. The Malcam devices were delivered weeks ago at each of the stations and buyers are in position. A tremendous amount of investment and human resources has been invested up to this point for it not to become a reality."
In Georgia, Extension Specialist J. Michael Moore says some growers are stripping their crop because of the excessive rains in July and earlyAugust. "But in areas where little rain has occurred, many are still working on the second harvest," he says. "Although we have some tobacco affected by the weather extremes, we are still going to have an extremely good crop compared to recent years."
In North Carolina, Boyd said the crop was probably never greater than a 500-million-pound potential at planting time, based on an above-average statewide yield of more than 2,400 pounds to the acre. It is a fair estimate today that the current crop has missed its opportunity to exceed a per-acre average of 2,400 pounds. Many growers say it takes 50% more acres of first pullings to fill a barn this year compared to last, he said. "This crop will most certainly be late in terms of harvest completion.  The longer the crop must hang in the field the more vulnerable it becomes to additional poundage or quality loss. "The crop has missed its optimum schedule to achieve its maximum potential in terms of size and weight."  It can still be a good quality crop, just not one that exceeds 500 million pounds of number one and two quality grades, Boyd said. "We should expect a tight supply."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

USDA says flue-cured production will be up, burley down

Flue-cured production should be about 3% more than last year, while burley production will likely fall 5%, according to the August Crop Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture which was issued this morning (August 11). According to the report, the big winner in volume in 2011 will be Pennsylvania, whose burley is up 11% and whose Southern Maryland volume is up 30%. Tennessee will also be way up in burley. The big loser will be South Carolina, down a whopping 31%. This is based on an estimated yield of 1,700 pounds per acre. But Dewitt Gooden, S.C. Extension tobacco specialist, tells Tobacco Farmer Newsletter that he finds the USDA figures mystifying. "It has been a bad season, hot and dry, and our yield is off some, but in some of the worst years I can remember we produced at least 1,900 pounds," he says. "There were a few fields so dry early that the growers disked them up. But in most areas, we have had some rain in time. I don't see how our crop could be as bad as USDA is projecting." Following is USDA's analysis of 2011 tobacco production as a whole and by type, with percentage change from last year:
          --All tobacco production for 2011 is forecast at 726 million pounds, up 1% from 2010. 
        --Flue-cured:NC--369.8 million pounds, up 6%. VA--44.4 million pounds, up 11.2%. GA--26.4 million pounds, down slightly. SC--24.6 million pounds, down 31.5%. US--465.3 million pounds, up 2.9%. "Moderate drought conditions were reported in some of the top flue-cured-producing counties," says USDA. "But some spotty storms provided relief during the past few weeks."
            --Burley: KY--126 million pounds, down 10% [not up 10%, as originally reported]. TN--30.4 million pounds, up 22%. PA--11.2 million pounds, up 11.6%. OH--3.8 million pounds, down 25.8%. VA--3.4 million pounds, up 11.8%. NC--3.3 million pounds, down 16.5%. US--178 million pounds, down 5% from last year." Kentucky growers reported that wet spring weather delayed setting in most areas," the report said. "Also, dry weather and extreme heat in late July slowed plant growth. Tennessee growers are expecting an average crop, recovering from adverse conditions last year." 
            --Southern Maryland6.4 million pounds (all in PA), up 30.3%. 
         --Dark air-curedKY-12.1 million pounds, down 1.1%, and TN-3.2 million pounds, up 13.2%. US--15.4 million pounds, up 1.8%. Kentucky growers reported black shank was becoming a problem in local areas, the report said. However, disease pressure was mostly light.
                --Fire-cured: KY--30.6 million pounds, up 5%. TN-20.6 million pounds, up 14.8%. VA-990,000 pounds, down 27.1%. US:  52.3 million pounds, up 8.1%. "Most Tennessee growers expect an average crop following recent beneficial rains," the report says. 
          --Cigar types: US--15.4 million pounds, down 21.2%. "In Connecticut and Massachusetts, mostly damp conditions were reported by growers in the spring," says USDA. "As the summer progressed, conditions became more arid." 
sGet Cureco

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blue mold reported in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania

Initial infestations of blue mold were reported in Connecticut on July 26 Hartford County and Tolland County in shade tobacco, and in Massachusetts on July 21 in Hampden County. The only other incidences in North America through the beginning of August 2 were on June 28 in in a field in Lancaster County, Pa., and on June 23 in plantbeds in two locations in Chester County, Pa

For more information, go to the Connecticut Blue Mold Update at or the North American Plant Disease Center at

How to lower the labor requirement of harvesting burley

           Could burley growers replace the hatchet-like tobacco "knife" with a weedeater for cutting down their stalks? "We have found that a weedeater with a blade is the best way to cut burley,” says Joseph French, superintendent of the Upper Piedmont Research Station at ReidsvilleN.C. "You can cut burley [so] much faster with [one]." You also don’t have to stoop as you do with the conventional knife. “Breakage might be a concern, since the stalk falls straight down,” says French. “But we haven’t had enough breakage yet for it to be a problem.” The harvester walks backward down the row cutting the stalks close to the ground, The stalks fall away from him. The stalks are gathered and loaded--without spearing on sticks--on trailers which carry them to a barn. "There, we notch them with a mechanical notcher attached to the trailer and hang them from wire racks,” says French.