Thursday, October 13, 2011

How much tobacco did you grow this season?

The National Agricultural Statistics Service of USDA released its October Production Report Wednesday October 12, 2011. The report--based on USDA's October 1 survey--showed: 

  • Flue-cured tobacco production is expected to be 383 million pounds, one percent above the September forecast but down from 451 million pounds in 2010. Producers were able to salvage more production in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene than expected, leading to the small improvement since September, the report said.

  • Burley production is forecast at 173 million pounds, up two percent from the previous month but down from 187 million pounds last season. In Kentucky, curing conditions improved in September after a very hot and dry summer. Virginia growers reported better yields than previously expected.

  • Fire-cured tobacco production is forecast at 52.4 million pounds, one percent above last month's forecast and up considerably from the 48 million pounds produced in 2010. Tennessee growers reported that the dark fire-cured crop fared well due to irrigation. 

  • Dark air-cured tobacco is forecast at 15.6 million pounds, up two percent from the September forecast and roughly the same as last season. As of October 2, the Kentucky dark-air-cured tobacco harvest was 92 percent complete, which is slightly ahead of previous year. 

  • Cigar type production is forecast at 7.71 million pounds, down 16 percent from the previous forecast and down considerably from the nearly 10 million pounds of 2010, while Southern Maryland production is forecast at 6.15 million pounds, down 7 percent from last month and up from nearly five million pounds lasts season. 
For further details, see

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How FDA could affect leaf production

More from the annual meeting of Burley Stabilization Corporation:
Arnold Hamm, the grower representative on the Food and Drug Administration’ s tobacco advisory committee, told the cooperative that the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act of 2009 was designed to decrease tobacco product consumption, and less consumption of tobacco products will mean less tobacco produced.

Some of that will be as a result of an unintended consequence. “Harsh regulations [if implemented] would increase demand for contraband tobacco products,” said Hamm. “Contraband tobacco products are unlikely to contain American tobacco.”

Another unintended consequence: Regulations limiting or prohibiting the level of some tobacco smoke constituents might cause a shift in where tobacco is grown and what kinds of tobacco can be used. “Manufacturers would be obliged to source tobacco that helps meet regulatory requirements, wherever they have to look,” he said.

For more on Hamm's presentation, see Tobacco Farmer Newsletter Update later this week.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An old friend has passed.

Charlie King, longtime executive for Tobacco Associates in Raleigh, N.C., died  October 3 of cancer. He will be missed for his many good qualities, not the least of which was that he always gave a straight answer to a straight question. Visitation will be held later this evening at the Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, 300 St. Mary’s Street, Raleigh, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Church services will be held on Thursday at 2 Trinity Baptist Church, 4815 Six Forks Road, Raleigh.  Burial will follow at Montlawn Memorial Park, 2911 South Wilmington Street. Memorials can be made to the NCSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to continue Charlie’s commitment to the advancement of agriculture in North Carolina. You can contribute online at, or send checks payable to The NC Agricultural Foundation, Inc.. in memory of Charlie King to NCSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Campus Box 7645 Raleigh, NC  27695-7645.
--Chris Bickers

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Update on U.S. Growers Direct contracts

The purchase of tobacco by Alliance One International (AOI) that had originally been contracted by U.S. Growers Direct (USGD) was going smoothly in early October, says Jeff Griffin, AOI manager of leaf affairs. “Because of the hurricane, we are not sure how many pounds are out there. It is very hard to get a handle on the volume of this crop.” But industry observers agree that probably no more than 25 million pounds—and certainly not 100 million pounds as USGD claimed--were ever destined for delivery to USGD. Thanks to low yields, it seems unlikely that even that much will be taken by AOI. Griffin says that USGD farmers report no problem dealing with the AOI prices and grading. “Our contracts are similar, and we have had no complaints about that,” he says. “Farmers seem to be pleased with how this is turning out.” The volume has been very good at the Wilson, N.C., buying station and also in Louisburg, N.C., and Douglas, Ga.Georgia wasn’t affected much by the hurricane,” says Griffin.
Yield trends for burley have been disappointing since deregulation, says Kentucky Extension tobacco economist Will Snell, who spoke at the recent meeting of the Burley Stabilization Cooperative [BSC] in Springfield, Tn. The loss of marginal land hasn’t lead to increased yields as had been hoped, and farmers who want to stay in burley over the long term will have to find some way to get yields up, says Snell. “There is no profit in growing burley tobacco if your yield is below 2,000 pounds per acre.” In other statistics relating to this season’s crop, Snell says: ●Yield is projected at 1,890 pounds per acre.●Acreage is down about eight percent. ●Production should be about 170 million pounds more or less, which would be roughly nine percent less than 2010.

Burley crop report: In east Tennessee, the burley crop looked quite good as harvest drew to a close in September, says Paul Denton, Kentucky-Tennessee Extension specialist, who also spoke at the BSC meeting. “The tobacco I saw September 27 did not look promising when I saw it back in mid-August. But as it was being harvested, it looked like it might yield 2,400 pounds per acre.” At the nearby Limestone community of Washington County, Denton found much tobacco still in the field. “I would say they were a little behind on harvest, with maybe 40 % still in the field. But they were working hard at cutting and housing on September 27.” The crop there really benefited from late rains and looked a lot better than it had a month before. “Farmers were beginning to worry about frost and cool curing temperatures for the later crop after the cooler temperatures of the weekend of October 1-2, Denton says… It paid to plant early in 2011, says Mike Bobo of Lebanon, Tn. “In 2012, I will try to plant by May 1. We had some we planted on July 2 that is no good now.” It was a tough year regardless when one planted, he says. “Once it dried up, it stayed dry. We will definitely have a below-average crop.” Bobo thinks he saved a little on expenses by planting a black-shank-resistant variety for the first time. “In the past, I have kept black shank in control with Ridomil and Quaddris,” he says. “But KT 209 worked very well this season”… In southwestern Virginia, burley planted in areas of heavier clay were visible to the eye because of the drought, said Kenneth Reynolds of Abingdon, Va. “Where tobacco was on clay soil, the dry weather lead to a shorter crop.” 

Chaos in flue-cured country

Flue-cured report: The N.C. flue-cured situation is still chaotic. Loren Fisher, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist, says that in the east, a substantial portion was destroyed by the hurricane, and more was abandoned afterwards because of difficulty harvesting it. On what remains, many farmers are facing issues of limited barn space or delayed ripening. Fisher is trying to look on the bright side, but there are estimates that the total flue-cured crop (all states) could fall a third short of earlier estimates… There is one potential bright spot: The Piedmont flue-cured crop looks good. Unfortunately, much remains to be harvested because of dry weather earlier. “This is one year when we would really like to get through the whole month of October before frost sets in,” says Fisher… Georgia, too, is headed for a good flue-cured crop and is in little danger of frost. “We have a high yield and good quality,” says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. “But it has been a very expensive crop. Farmers used lots of irrigation.” But the big cost item was sucker control. “Farmers needed a hand crew to remove the misses, and I know of some who had to spend $10,000 a week for a six- or seven-week sucker crop. “