HARVEST UPDATE: FINISHED IN FLORIDA, HALF DONE IN KENTUCKY
Auction sales for flue-cured have been strong so far, says Tommy Faulkner, auction manager at the American Tobacco Exchange in Wilson, N.C. “The trade is anticipating a short crop, so buyers are bidding aggressively on lugs and cutters, and even on some low end tobacco like pickouts.” Buyers are looking for clean styles. “You definitely want to pick out any waste," says Faulkner. "It will hurt your price.” The price has been good compared to the last few years. Faulkner estimates that quality lugs and cutters have brought from $1.35 to $1.75 per pound. File photo of flue-cured auction in Rural Hall, N.C., by Christopher Bickers.
Wrapping it up on the Deep South: Florida growers are for all practical purposes finished with the 2021 crop, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. “There is only one grower there that I know of who still has tobacco in the field,” he says. “Much of the crop in Florida was set out really early.”
The crop in Georgia still has a way to go, he says. “I would estimate 35 percent is still in the field.” But the leaf is coming out of the fields in a hurry now. “A few Georgia growers have finished completely, but I am expecting it to take till the middle of the month for us to completely finish harvesting.”
It isn’t a good crop in either state. “Heavy and unrelenting rains starting in June reduced yield and quality,” says Moore. “That’s sad because up to that point we had a beautiful crop with good expectations.” Rains associated with Tropical Storm Elsa and some of the other tropical storms were part of the problem. As a result, Deep South yields will be off 25 percent to 30 percent. One lesson to be learned: Tobacco does not do well in wet soils in wet years.
And there is a lesson from the delivery stations as well: “No company has a place for black oxidized leaf from the bottom of the stalk,” says Moore. “Buyers are definitely discriminating against it.” But that has been less of a problem lately. “As we are getting up the stalk, the leaf is getting clearer and has more body,” he says.
BURLEY AND DARK
This season’s dark crops are among the best in Kentucky and Tennessee in a long time, says Andy Bailey, Kentucky-Tennessee Extension dark specialist. “All the early planted crop, which was planted by the end of May, is in or nearly in. The late crop—planted in mid or late June—will be coming in in the next week or so. "At this point I would say that 70 percent of the total dark crop has been harvested. Our cigar wrapper tobacco was harvested by the 20th of August.”
USDA calculations: In Kentucky and Tennessee, burley cutting continues to move steadily with 47 and 46 percent harvested respectively as of September 5. “The tobacco crop is in mostly good condition at this time,” said USDA. In North Carolina, burley harvest was not nearly as far along, with 14 percent in the barn by that date.
Connecticut broadleaf has enjoyed better curing conditions this season than in any other year since the type was first grown in the Black Patch. “It has a more even color this year,” Bailey says. “Humidity conditions have pushed the crop to ripen earlier. Maybe 10 days. We noticed that every time we had a rain event.”
The Connecticut type may have found a place in western Kentucky and Tennessee. Jason Evitts grew it with a cousin for a second year on their farm in Hartsville, Tn. They did well enough in 2020 that they decided not to grow any burley this season, which was the first time there had been no burley on the farm in 100 years. When Tobacco Farmer Newsletter spoke to Evitts last Friday, all four acres of their Connecticut broadleaf had been harvested. But most of it was still in the barn--Leaf molds were a concern at that late date due to humid conditions. Evitts, the county Extension director in Trousdale County, says that to be successful with Connecticut, you have to change your management approach completely from the way you would approach corn or soybeans. “Management has to be intense,” he says.
Welcome to the September I, 2021, issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. If you haven't signed on to receive the newsletter regularly, please email your subscription request to TFN at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include phone number and your affiliation with tobacco, such as farmer, buyer, dealer or Extension agent.