Sunday, December 22, 2019



The Southern Farm Show takes place at the North Carolina State Fair February 5 through 7.
The following list includes all exhibitors who would like to display their materials to tobacco farmers. Note: This list will be published once again later in January, so any exhibitor who has been left out may send additional information to

Jim Graham Bldg.  
· 222 Evans Mactavish Agricraft.
· 227 Kelley Mfg. Co. Agricultural equipment.
· 302 Hardee by EVH Manufacturing Co. Sprayers.
· 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.
  • 1120 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.  Manufacturer of spraying equipment.
  • 1213 H&H Farm Machinery. “Building sprayers your way since 1978.”
  • 1302 Mid-Atlantic Irrigation Co.
  • 1415 Spapperi (Italy). Setters and other tobacco mechanization.

Exposition Bldg.

  • 3127 (& 8611) Benchmark Buildings & Irrigation. Transplanters/irrigation.
  • 3135 Southern Container Corporation of Wilson. Bale sheets and packaging.  
  • 3308 Tobacco Growers Association of N.C.
  • 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 Control. 

Scott Tent

  • 7025 Drexel Chemical Company. Sucker control chemicals.
  • 7034 (&8012) Coastal AgroBusiness. A full-service agricultural solutions provider serving NC, SC, VA, ETN and NGA.
  • 7302 Fairbanks Scales Inc.
  • 7322 Transplant Systems. A growing system company.Tent 1
  • 5029 AmeriGas Propane. One stop shop for all propane needs.
  • 7334 BJ Williamson Greenhouses.

  • 8039 Vause Equipment Co. Farm equipment.
  • 8208 Wilson Manufacturing. Farm trailers.
  • 8204 Equipmax. Tobacco spray equipment.
  • 8217 Granville Equipment. Tobacco and Hemp Machinery.
  • 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.

Thursday, December 19, 2019


There is plenty of unsold leaf remaining from the U.S. 2019 crop if the Chinese want to buy it. But will they? This flue-cured leaf was sold to a dealer in Wilson, N.C., in October. Photo: Chris Bickers. 
The US/China trade deal is still evolving, and I can find no indication that it specifically includes tobacco at this point. 

If, as has been speculated, China agrees to buy $40 to $50 billion in U.S. agricultural commodities, that would seem like enough that tobacco could well hope to get some of it. But I see many imponderables here:

It has always been speculated that the original purchases by China of U.S. leaf were made to some degree for political purposes. Are the Chinese still interested in being popular in the tobacco states?

China has gone substantially without American tobacco for one full season with another one beginning soon. But it seems to have been able to get enough flue- cured to meet its needs from Brazil and Zimbabwe, mostly Brazil. Now, adverse weather caused Zimbabwe's just-harvest-ed crop to be of poor quality, perhaps not good enough for the Chinese, and Brazil had a shorter crop in 2019 so it may not have replenished its un-committed stocks. Poor quality in Zimbabwe and little excess leaf in Brazil mean the Chinese may feel pressure to buy some U.S. leaf for their top quality cigarettes.

I have heard it said often enough that I have to think there is some truthin it--that the Chinese involved in the American market like working with the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative-the flue-cured cooperative that handled most of the U.S. tobacco exported to the PRC--and would like to salvage a relationship with USTC if they can.

That's a long-winded way of saying there seem to be a lot of reasons that trade with PRC might revive sooner or later. But there are some enormous logistic reasons why it probably won't happen in time to affect the 2020 crop. Watch this space for more details.

A major leaf buyer says this: Pieter Sikkel, president, c.e.o. and chairman of Pyxus International, Inc., the parent company of the leaf dealer Alliance One International, issued the following statement on December 16 regarding the new trade agreement. 

"Pyxus applauds the initial trade agreement finalized by the United States and China [Friday] and both governments for their perseverance in reaching this consensus. The agreement is a welcome first step to reopening China's vast consumer market to U.S. agricultural products, including tobacco. While this compromise is only one piece of a much needed comprehensive trade agreement, and additional steps need to take place to restart leaf exports, it is an encouraging move in the right direction, helping to foster enhanced trade and promote greater opportunities for success in the global economy."

The stakes are considerable, as anyone who reads this publication knows. "In the year preceding the trade dispute, the U.S. exported $162 million worth of tobacco to China," said Sikkel. "Last year, that number decreased to only $4 million. This agreement should positively impact the U.S. agricultural industry and American tobacco farmers, who have been hit hard by the on-going trade dispute. We are excited to build on the positive momentum and are hopeful that this signifies sustainable progress in United States-China relations and gr eater economic opportunity for farmers."


A revitalized market in Argentina: In the meantime, Alliance One International is taking steps to restructure its Argentine leaf operations (AOTA) in anticipation of increases in exports and improved competitiveness on the global market. The main step will be relocating AOTA's laf-processing operations from El Carril in the Salta province to Philip Morris International's Argentine affiliate at Rosario de Lerma, also in Salta. This move will occur in time for the 2020 crop and will reflect a closer commercial relationship with PMI. AOTA will continue to contract with growers. "The restructuring of AOI's Argentine operations will help to improve overall efficiency and strengthen price competitiveness," said Sikkel.
In Brazil, harvest is well under way in the big tobacco-producing state of Rio Grande do Sul, according to a report from the leaf dealer Hail and Cotton. Due to excessive rainfall in October and early November and high winds and hailstorms, tobacco has been showing indications of premature yellowing and loss of yield.

Other tobacco news:

Cureco curing controls are no longer for sale at Cureco Inc. of Seven Springs, N.C., but they are still available from Suretrol, the Canadian company that invented the technology. Suretrol has an office in Wilson, N.C., at 5838 St. Rose Church Rd.. Interested farmers can go there or call the main switchboard at (252) 991-0533. Suretrol president Joe Bucek says the perfect heat and humidity control you get with Suretrol/Cureco equipment along with the flexibility of monitoring with a phone are its strongest points. 

Monday, December 9, 2019


One of the highlights of the N.C. Tobacco Day  program on December 5 was the presentation by Blake Brown, N.C. Extension ag economist, outlining the prospects for growth in sales on the world market. The outlook is not cheering.

Here are the factors that Brown thinks should be of most concern to farmers as they plan for 2020 (with a little analysis by the editor): 
  • The demand for combustible tobacco products continues its accelerated decline. 
  • There have been an avalanche of new smoking-related technologies in recent years, and unfortunately, all contain less tobacco per unit than do cigarettes. 
  • Even if the dispute with China were resolved now, we will still have the problem of selling inventories left from 2018. If it is resolved, the resumption of trade with China would positively impact U.S. sales in 2021 (although not likely 2020). But the overall trend is still declining sales. 
  • Some policy intervention could potentially improve the short-run outlook. 
  • There is one bright spot on the export scene: the continued growth in the demand for premium cigarette brands continues to grow among Asian consumers. This situation has benefited American cigarettes in the past. 
How farmers feel about the coming season--Tobacco Farmer Newsletter took the opportunity to interview several farmers at N.C. Tobacco Day. Here's what some had to say:

What can you count on? At times this season, the connection of quality in tobacco and profitability seemed turned on its head. The market just isn't going to work if that keeps up. Tim Yarbrough of Prospect Hill, N.C., noted, "There has to be some value in quality tobacco that the farmer can count on."

A morale problem: Steve Griffin, a flue-cured grower from Washington, N.C., and president of the Tobacco Growers Association of N.C., said that there is a growing frustration with the operation of the Tobacco GAP program among farmers, some of whom see no tangible return to the grower who complies with the program. "They see instances of GAP -  certified farmers who  lose their con-tracts while some farmers who are not compliant with GAP stay in business," he said. Excellence is the goal: It is hard to maintain morale in this situation, he said. "GAP should reward excellence," he added.

Bad weather lead to "terrible" yields on the tobacco produced in 2019 at the Oxford (N.C.) research station, said Carl Watson, tobacco research specialist for thestation. "We produced 2,000 pounds per acre, while we normally average 3,000 and 3,200 pounds per acre," he said at Tobacco Day. "This was a year we want to forget."

Time for an upward bounce? Mack Grady, flue-cured grower from Seven Springs, N.C., thought there was reason for a little hope for 2020. "I know agriculture is at a low point now, but maybe things are about to brighten up," he said. "It takes a while for the ball to hit the floor before it bounces, and we are about due."

An award at Tobacco Day: Zane Hedgecock received the "Tobacco Great" award,
which is conferred by the N.C. State agriculture faculty on members of the tobacco family who have made significant contributions to the industry. Hedgecock is chief of staff at the N.C. Department of Agriculture.

See future issues of TFN for further reporting on other presentations at N.C. Tobacco Day.


Zimbabwe price plummets: The average price on the tobacco market was the lowest in 10 years. A tobacco farmer about 125 miles north of Harare told the Zimbabwean publication Fin 24, "This year I increased my tobacco planting area and spent more money than before, but after selling I have nothing to show for it. I even failed to meet all my debts. Getting back into the field this coming season is going to be a challenge. I see farmers scaling down production or pull[ing] out from tobacco farming altogether."
How one leaf merchant is looking at 2020: The leaf dealer Pyxus (formerly Alliance One) remains focused on maintaining low levels of uncommitted in-ventory, said Pieter Sikkel, chairman, president and CEO in his company's quarterly report. "While some markets continue to present certain challenges, such as the U.S., which remains impacted by the ongoing trade tensions with China, we are encouraged by other markets," he said.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


On a highly mechanized burley operation in east Tennessee, a farmer prepares cured leaf for marketing in this image from several years ago. How much mechanization will be right for you in the coming season, or how little? File photo by the editor.

There can be no doubt: Tobacco farmers will face a huge challenge making a profit in 2020. There are a variety of reasons but the one most difficult to address is that...

The world supply of leaf is way out of proportion to the current demand. The dreary prospects for 2020 that TFN is hearing are that we might have an attrition among tobacco farmers of 20 percent, if not more.

Identifying the problem: The Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. held a forum on the situation on January 19. I wasn't allowed to attend, but I was able to interview four of the participants right afterward and heard some good ideas. Here is what I found out:

The strong American dollar is a big problem for our leaf, said Graham Boyd, chief executive officer, TGANC. "It puts us at a big disadvantage in the world market. It interferes with our efforts to recapture lost markets but we must keep trying."

The first step now is to contact your financier and find out what is going to be realistic in 2020, said Blake Brown, N.C. Extension ag economist. "Try to have a plan. You don't want to be in a situation of where you are desperate and tempted to respond with desperate moves."

There is a lot of excess production in the world. A resumption of sales to China would be a godsend, but if it happened now, it might not take place in time for the 2020 crop.

It was a dismal season for Jeff Turlington. "We made about a half crop," said the flue-cured grower of Coats, N.C., just south of Raleigh. "We had drought from the beginning, then too much rain for several months, then Hurricane Dorian." which brought 45 to 50 mile gusts that hasted ripening much faster than could be handled. His other crops don't look very promising now.

The yield in 2019 was definitely down for Tom Shaw of Vance County, N.C. "The crop was beautiful early, but in July the weather changed," said Shaw. "Marketing this crop was a challenge. Our problem was trash and burnt tails. What the buyers wanted was what we didn't have."

Start gathering ideas now on how to produce tobacco at the lowest possible cost. A good place to start will be the North Carolina Tobacco Day on December 5 at the Johnston County Extension Center, Smithfield, N.C., lasting from 9 a.m. through lunch. Here is a partial list of the presentations. All speakers except Griffin are members of the N.C. Extension Service.
  • The outlook for 2020--Brown.
  • An update on cost of production for 2020--Gary Bullen, agricultural economist.
  • Could you apply MH to the stalk with a sprayer attached to a mechanical harvester?--Grant Ellington.
  • Emerging disease considerations --Lindsey Thiessen, plant pathologist.
  • New herbicides for 2020--Matthew Vann, crop & soil scientist.
  • How to scout better for insects--Hannah Burrack, entomologist.
  • A grower's perspective-Griffin.

Burley declining in the Blue Ridge: Hawkins County, where Davis lives near the border with Virginia, once had a thriving burley crop. But as best Davis can tell now, it was down to three growers this year, including him. The bad prospects for 2020 may bring an historic industry to its end in this mountainous area nestled in the Ridge and Valley region.


In the Philippines, growers get help from Representatives: A legislator has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives seeking to regulate vaping products. According to CNN Philippines, the purpose of the bill in part is to protect small-scale tobacco farmers who have been suffering losses due to e-cigarettes, which are commonly advertised as "safer" and "less harmful" alternatives to conventional tobacco products.

This is the November II
 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
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Sunday, November 17, 2019


As best this publication can tell, all the 2019 crop--like this burley wilting in Tennessee in October--has been harvested. Photo courtesy of the University of Tennessee.


"We had good soil moisture to start the season," he says. "But we had record-breaking heat and drought, starting in mid May. Except for the hurricane, there was substantially no break in the heat until three weeks ago. If we could irrigate more it would have helped but many farmers just aren't set up for it."

The yield was definitely affected. "In an average year, we might have a yield of 2,500 to 2,600 pounds per acre across the state," Vann says. "We are not going to make that. Perhaps we will fall short by 200 to 300 pounds."

Disappointment in the price: This market has been a big disappointment, thanks mainly to the low prices. The only way to improve things next is to adopt a quality strategy. "In 2020, we are going to live or die by the quality we produce," says Vann. "Look at little things you can do to focus on quality."

Pressure off barn space: Most flue-cured growers have been really strapped for barn space for several years. "In 2020, there should be less pressure," says Vann. "You won't have to be in such a hurry to get your crop out in the field in the spring, and you won't have to leave the crop out as long as possible in the fall." Quality could be favorably affected by both situations, he said

Harvest is done in Kentucky after a hard frost Saturday. Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist, says burley yields should be about average at 2,100 pounds per acre, he says, and up from last year. For the season, it was too wet early and too dry late. It was also dry during the cure, so the quality may have been affected. But it is hard to tell since only 30 percent to 40 percent of the crop has been stripped, says Pearce.

Top goal for 2020: Take advantage of the tools available to keep black shank in check. They include good rotation and choice of a resistant variety, then application of Orondis or Ridomil in the transplant water, then Presidio or Ridomil at first cultivation or layby. There are several good black-shank-resistant burley varieties, including KT 209, KT 210 and KT 215, says Pearce.

Burley harvest in Virginia is complete also. The last few fields were cut in late October, with perhaps the very last one harvested in Appomattox County the last few days of the month. Dark tobacco has reached the market preparation stage.

In the dark tobacco areas of western Kentucky and Tennessee, yields of the dark types look to be down a little, says Andy Bailey, Extension tobacco specialist for that area. "Our average yield for dark fire-cured will probably be down at least 2 to 300 pounds per acre to 3,000 pounds."

The weather in the Black Patch was characterized by a very wet spring and intense late summer drought. "It reached 93 degrees on October 3," Bailey says. Then it was dry in the curing season. "Our dark air-cured and burley cured very fast, maybe in less than six weeks as compared to the normal seven or eight." It is yet to be seen if that will have a quality impact.

Some fields were so wet in the spring they had to be re-set in July. That had them growing in a period of bad drought in late August and all of September and definitely affected yield. "We had more late set tobacco than ever," he says. The Purchase area of Kentucky was one of the most affected.

Disease report from the Deep South: Low levels of TSWV--"Only 10 to 12 percent of the crop [in Georgia] displayed TSWV," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. Control measures seem to have helped. "Much of the crop was treated in the greenhouse with a tray drench of Admire Pro. Some was treated with a foliar spray of Actigard also. Black shank--Orondis Gold in the transplant water and Presidio or Ridomil at layby. But in case of rain, you may apply Ridomil at first cultivation and you might choose to do the Presidio layby application as well. Rotation and varietal resistance also need to be included. "Where farmers use these tools, they have worked pretty well," he says.

Yields in Georgia-Florida were slightly better than average this season. Moore estimates average yield in Georgia at 2,200 pounds per acre and in Florida at 2,400 to 2,450 pounds.

Auction report: Most sound flue-cured brought $1 to $1.10 a pound at the Old Belt warehouse in Rural Hall, N.C., at its weekly sale Tuesday. Almost all of the tobacco offered was third and fourth grades. That represented a considerable drop from the average of a few weeks ago

How long will auction season last? White says he will continue sales till Thanksgiving week or even later if there is tobacco to sell. The Piedmont crop was so late this year that he believes there is still substantial tobacco on the farm at this time. But he says everything has been harvested.


Disarray in Zimbabwe: "Most of the growers who sold on the auction floors [this year] received sub- economic returns," said the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association in a statement. "This will have a [negative] impact on their ability to finance themselves for the next season."

December 5, 9 a.m.-noon. N.C. Tobacco Day, Johnston County Extension Center,  Smithfield, N.C. Lunch will follow the program.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you haven't signed on to receive the newsletter regularly by email 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 
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Thursday, October 24, 2019


Buyers bid on leaf at American Tobacco Exchange warehouse in Wilson, N.C., at an auction on October 16.  Photo by the Editor.
Auction sales of flue-cured tobacco were in extreme doldrums in October. At a sale at the American Tobacco Exchange warehouse in Wilson, N.C., on October 16, the top price seemed to be around $1.20 a pound, and that was for some very good tobacco. A lot of the crop appeared to have been sold at $.90 a pound and some sold as low as $.75, which would obviously not cover the cost of production. 

Prices are too low, said Rick Smith, president of Independent Leaf Tobacco and one of the buyers at the sale. "I don't know how farmers are making any money the way things are. Some are going to have to think about leaving the crop. I know tobacco farmers aren't quitters but with no demand, this is a losing battle." 

Harvest is over in East N.C., South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. But some flue-cured is still in the field in the Piedmont area of western N.C. and perhaps some in Vir-ginia. 

The USDA's final proj-ection of crop vol-ume  for 2019 was that flue-cured will be down 15 percent in volume, in large part because of dry weather throughout the season and also the cat-astrophic effect of Hurricane Dorian in eastern North Carolina and South Carolina. But the burley crop was projected only eight percent downward, mainly because of good conditions that lead to a good yield in Kentucky.

Following are USDA's October projections for each of the types. For flue-cured and burley, projections by state are included.
  • North Carolina--212.4 million pounds, down 15.3 percent from last season. 
  • Virginia--30 million pounds, down 28.5 percent from last season. 
  • Georgia--18 million pounds, down 24.2 percent from last season. 
  • South Carolina--13 million pounds, down 38.5 percent from last season. 
  • All U.S. flue-cured--274 million pounds, down 24.1 percent from last season.
  • Kentucky--77.9 million pounds, down 2.6 percent from last season. 
  • Tennessee--6 million pounds, down 33.3 percent from last season. 
  • Pennsylvania--6 million pounds, down 31.8 percent from last season.
  • Virginia--1.2 million pounds, down 16 percent from last season. 
  • North Carolina--0.64 million pounds, down 42 percent from last season. 
  • All U.S. burley--91.8 million pounds, down 8.5 percent from last season.
  • Fire-cured--47.4 million pounds, down 19.5 percent from last season. 
  • Dark air-cured--27.6 million pounds, up 3.7 percent from last season. 
  • Pennsylvania seedleaf--5 million pounds, down 8.3 percent from last season. 
  • Southern Maryland--2.2 million pounds, down 28.5 percent from last season.   
ALL TOBACCO--448 million pounds, down 16 percent from last season.


In Malawi, our major competitor in burley, very dry weather reduced production, then the crop encountered a lackluster market, according to a leaf dealer. An average price (in US$/kilogram) of $1.32 had been achieved by the close of the market, down from $1.56 in 2018. There were an exceptional number of no sales which were allocated to the trade  at a very low average price of $0.50 per kilogram. Total volume sold was nearly 138 million kilograms, down from 164 million in 2018. 

Still beating a billion: Brazil flue-cured volume in 2020 is projected at 1.3 billion pounds, down slightly from 2019 but still dominating world pro-duction of the type. Brazilian burley production is estimated at 121 million pounds, down 15 percent from 2019. Transplanting of both types is nearly complete. Source: Hail & Cotton International Group.
Zimbabwe pounds up: The 2019 Zimbabwe flue-cured crop, just marketed, is estimated to have been 571.6 million pounds in volume, up 2.7 percent from the year before. The price was 2.02 per kilogram, down from 30 percent from the year before.

December 5, 9 a.m.-noon. N.C. Tobacco Day, Johnston County Extension Center,  Smith-field, N.C. Lunch will follow the program.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


Last day of harvest--Rob Glover of Bailey, N.C., (between Wilson and Raleigh) finished barning his crop today (October 2), The season ended very dry, he says. "We got some rain from Hurricane Dorian, but it wasn't much, and we haven't had any since then." Above: Workers in one of Glover's fields. Photo by the Editor.

North Carolina: Three weeks after Dorian blew through, it appears that North Carolina was spared a huge loss from the hurricane. There was little flooding, and the severe winds didn't blow down too much of the crop. But the whipping effect off the wind caused a great deal of premature ripening, and the leaf deteriorated quickly. Some fields had to be abandoned. Some yield loss was obviously experienced, but an estimate can't be made just yet. The damage occurred almost entirely east of Interstate 95, in the southeastern corner of the Eastern Belt. Most of the tobacco in all east-ern North Carolina has been harvested or aban-doned by now, but the Old Belt has a good late crop, much of it still in the field, and harvest may continue till mid-October...USDA has esti-mated that 88 percent of the state flue-cured crop was harvested by Mon-day.

South Carolina: Everything is harvested that's going to be harvested, says S.C. area Extension agronomy agent for Horry, Marion and Dillon Counties. But that is hardly good news. The tobacco-growing area of S.C. were hit hard by Dorian, and quick ripening was a problem on much of it. Not all of that could be harvested, and a lot that was harvested is very dark and will be difficult to market. Also, some other leaf got sunscald after the torrential rains followed by 100-degree temperatures and may also turn out to be unmarketable.
Virginia: There's been no significant rainfall anywhere in Virginia's flue-cured-growing acres in six weeks. Much has been pulled but some still remains and probably will until mid October. That tobacco will probably have better yields...USDA estimated 95 percent of the Virginia crop has been harvested by September 30.

Georgia: Only one farmer is still harvesting tobacco in Georgia, at least as far as J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist, can tell. "He should finish this week." The tobacco that has already been cured appears thin, and this crop will be no better than average. There were many areas that got excessive rainfall on more than one occasion, leading to damaged root systems. And starting in May, there was almost constant heat. "I guess we should be happy that we got the yields we did," Moore says...

Florida experienced heat and excessive rain too and appears to have produced an average crop, says Moore. Harvest has been finished there for several weeks.


Kentucky: The temperature is sizzling in Kentucky, says Bob Pearce, Extension tobacco specialist. "It is predicted to be very hot and dry for three days. It is not likely that farmers will try to take down and strip their tobacco in these conditions: There is not enough moisture to get the leaf in case." As soon as that changes, farmers will start taking down in earnest, he says...Most of the Kentucky burley crop has been harvested, although a few farmers who have to work around labor issues may still have a way to go. "The earliest harvested tobacco looks good," says Pearce. "It is a little high in color as would be expected. Yield for the whole crop appears about average. The quality is fair."

Tennessee: Crabgrass is about the only thing growing in Wilson County, near Nashville, says Extension agent A. Ruth Correll. There were some spotty sprinkles but no significant rain last week. A few showers last Thursday helped out a little in Cheatham County, also near Nashville. "[But] we are still very dry," says Ronnie Barron, Extension agent. USDA estimates harvest at 94 percent.

North Carolina: Temperatures remained hot and above normal in Jackson and Swain County. "Some scattered-to-widespread thunderstorms dropped about a half inch of rainfall moistening and providing relief for the abnormally dry conditions," said Robert Hawk, Extension agent. USDA estimates harvest at 53 percent complete.

Virginia: In the burley-growing area of southwest Virginia, weather conditions are universally reported as much drier than normal. Minimal rainfall and 90-degree-weather continued in Smyth County last week. In Scott County, Extension agent Scott Jerrell said that without significant rainfall, a drought declaration will soon be forthcoming.

December 5, 9 a.m.--12 p.m. N.C. Tobacco Day, Johnston County Extension Center, Smithfield, N.C. Lunch will follow the program.