One of the last: A grower wraps up burley transplanting on his farm near Ripley, Ohio.
Flue-cured production for all U.S. states is forecast at 231 million pounds, down 22 percent from 2019, according to USDA's July Crop Production report. Acreage at 120,500 acres is 19 percent below last year. Yield for the 2020 crop year is forecast at 1,919 pounds per acre, 71 pounds below last year. Once again, if these projections are realized, this will be the lowest flue-cured tobacco harvested acreage and production on record. Among the individual states:
First projections for other tobacco states will appear in future editions of USDA's Crop Production.
Suit against Lexington co-op settled: All parties involved a lawsuit seeking the dissolution of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association have reached an agreement on a partial settlement. The terms include the liquidation of the Co-op's assets and distribution of net proceeds equally among members (those active in any crop year from 2015 through 2019) after payment of administrative costs, and fees and expenses of the plaintiffs' attorneys. The first distribution should occur before the end of 2020. The dissolution of the Co-op will be managed by a six-member dissolution committee made up of Penny Greathouse, Mitch Haynes and Gregg Craddock, who are Cp-op members involved in the litigation, and Al Pedigo, Eddie Warren and Donald Mitchell, who are Co-op directors. $1.5 million of the Co-op's assets will be designated for the creation of a new agricultural-related non-profit entity whose mission will include:
A hearing seeking preliminary approval has been set for July 29. Detailed notices will then be sent to past and present members, and a settlement website will be established. Watch for further details as they arise.
Who will represent growers in Kentucky until the new association is established? "We want burley growers to know they still have an organization they can reach out to as issues arise," said Darrell Varner, president of the Council for Burley Tobacco. "We encourage them to check out our website at www. councilforburleytobacco.com for up-to-date information on all burley issues."
Tobacco is fading away in East Tennessee: As far as Bennie Davis of Sur-goinsville, Tn., can tell, only one acre of burley has been planted this year in his home county of Hawkins. And that acre is being grown on his upper east Tennessee farm by his 17-year-old grandson as a school project. As recently as a year ago, there were three adult tobacco grow-ers in the county (see TFN November II 2020), but they have all given up on the crop. Reason? The price offered in recent years has been too low to allow a profit under the growing conditions of the Blue Ridge. "You can't afford to grow it at the current price if you have to hire any labor at all," says Davis. "You lose money."
On the bright side, Davis' grandson's one-acre patch is looking good now, even though it got off to a late start. "It should have been up already when he decided to plant it," Davis says. Fortunately, the weather was good after setting.
Kentucky burley setting was probably completed this week, says USDA. Steve Pratt, general manager of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association in Lexington, said, "From what I have seen, the crop looks good and has good potential." Transplanting was slowed by heavy rains early on. "But once it was in the field, the weather has been better. Farmers have been able to plant all the acres they wanted to."
REPORT FROM OVERSEAS
Brazil--Nicotine levels high. Harvesting of the 2020 flue-cured Virginia crop has been completed, according to a report from Star Tobacco, and expected crop size is 550 million kilos. Production was negatively affected by drought, and nicotine levels appear to fall around five percent. To decrease that level in blends, buyers plan to use most Brazilian lugs and cutters in leaf grades. A short supply of filler grades for the export market can be expected.
Zimbabwe--As of July 1, Zimbabwe farmers had sold 116 million kilograms of tobacco, substantially more than at the same point in the 2019 sales, according to media reports. Prices were roughly 30 percent higher. Flue-cured Virginia production has been estimated at 225 million kilos in 2020 which is 13 percent lower than the previous year, according to a report from Star Tobacco. The irrigated crop is down in volume compared to recent years, but the dryland crop has exceeded the earlier forecast yields. As a result, the overall production level of commercially grown flue-cured tobacco should be slightly less than they were than in 2019.
Malawi--The growing season here was characterized by heavy rainfall, according to a report from Star Tobacco. Rain that extended from February and into March left crop stands slightly uneven, and the leaf is thinner than the previous year. Expected burley crop size is 120 million kilos, 15 percent lower than 2019