WILL FALL'S FIRST FROST PUT A CHILL ON THE 2021 LEAF MARKET?
Buyers pore over flue-cured leaf at Old Belt Tobacco Sales in Rural Hall, N.C. File photo by Christopher Bickers.
A LOOK AT WHO'S FINISHED HARVEST
... AND WHO STILL HAS A WAY TO GO
NORTH CAROLINA--A late first frost date would really help Piedmont growers. Frost can reasonably be expected in 15 or 20 days, and that could be a real problem. “This crop is definitely late—some farmers have just made their first pulling,” says Dennis White of the Old Belt Tobacco Sales auction near Winston-Salem. “It is coming off fast, and farmers are having a hard time getting enough barn space to cure it.” If the top crop is damaged by frost or freezing, it will be a shame. “The leaf that is still out there has plenty of body and is of good color, and it will be overripe,” he says... The Old Belt warehouse held its fifth sale yesterday (October 5). White says they are going well. “We are selling over a half million pounds per sale, and our price has been close to the contract price. The price and quality of lugs offered here was good while that of cutters and leaf were very good, says White.
VIRGINIA—As in the N.C Piedmont, the Virginia flue-cured crop is way behind schedule and may take till early November to harvest completely. Too much rain was the main cause, but windstorms that blew over plants were also a problem. USDA estimated that 89 percent of the flue-cured in the state had been harvested by October 3. The quality seemed good at that point. “We could have a good crop if the frost will just hold off,” says one observer.
SOUTH CAROLINA--It’s all over for the 2021 crop except for selling it. And this crop turned out well: Even though it received more or less the same weather as eastern North Carolina, the crop fared much better. The state average yield was higher than in either of the past two years. William Hardee, S.C. area Extension agronomy agent, thinks the number may fall in the area of around 2,500 pounds per acre. Which would compare very favorably to the yields of the two previous seasons, neither of whose yield reached 2,000 pounds per acre…There were drought conditions in April and May which slowed crop development, followed by a wet June, says Hardee. Tropical Storm Elsa came at the beginning of July and had just enough wind to initiate a ripening response in the plant and put growers a little behind in harvesting. “But everyone is finished now. We completed harvest in the second or third week of September. By the beginning of October, the crop had been taken out and now the farmers just have to finish marketing it"…A change in S.C. tobacco Extension: TFN has learned that Extension tobacco specialist Matthew Inman has left to take a position in industry. No word yet on whether the position will be re-filled.
(GEORGIA and FLORIDA are done.)
KENTUCKY-- Burley growers made strong headway in the week ended October 3 as the weather was conducive, says USDA’s Crop Progress and Condition Report. But that progress was stymied over the weekend because of widespread precipitation. Housed tobacco is in mostly good condition. House burn was reported as one percent moderate, eight percent light and 91 percent with none.
TENNESSEE--Burley harvest is nearly finished, says Mitchell Richmond, Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist. Rain has caused some delays in cutting, but Richmond thinks the tobacco test plots at the Highland Rim Research Center in Springfield, Tn., will be completely harvested by Wednesday. “Maybe by a week from today harvest will be complete on the crop as a whole.” This won’t go down as a bumper crop, but the yield is good. Richmond doesn’t have an estimate of burley production in the state yet but still thinks the USDA figure of 4.5 million pounds is credible. The rain cut back a little the past week ending October 3 but this has been a very rainy season. Early rains had a negative impact on growth. “But since June 15 the rain has been more or less average,” he says.
NORTH CAROLINA--As of October 3, only 72 percent of the burley had been harvested. Farmers were living on borrowed time: The predicted first frost date in Asheville was September 22. It hasn't come yet but farmers are cutting and barning as fast as they can.