Tuesday, November 23, 2021



Bales of burley await marketing in the Bluegrass of Kentucky. Photo courtesy of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association.

As best I can tell, all U.S. tobacco plus all Canada’s crop (see below) has been harvested since early this month. The last may have been some very late burley in Western North Carolina. But any still in the field on November 4 would have been killed by a frost event that day. Otherwise, almost all of this year’s tobacco seems to have escaped freeze damage. And it seems to have produced better than average quality almost all around.

All types did well in Tennessee: In Middle Tennessee, yields f0r dark air-cured, fire-cured and burley are expected to be a little better than average and quality seems good, says Mitchell Richmond, Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist. “There have been some good seasons lately for order and case.” For East Tennessee, an average to slightly better than average yield is expected. The curing season was better than average and good quality is expected in this region as well, Richmond says.  

The quality of the dark types in Kentucky and Tennessee keeps getting better. “This is the best dark tobacco crop since 2014,” says Andy Bailey, Kentucky-Tennessee Extension dark specialist. “I am seeing a remarkably consistent crop on the floor,” he says. The yield is good, too. “One farmer reported a yield of 3,600 pounds per acres,” he says. “We had some hard frosts around the end of October, but no damage was reported--all of our tobacco was harvested by that time.” Much of the two dark types is curing in the barn, but some has been stripped and taken to market.

Flue-cured in Ontario was high quality too. “The quality is excellent,” says Maythern AL-Amery, Team Leader of the Canadian Tobacco Research Foundation in Tillsonburg. “[But] the yield was lowered by the heavy rains we experienced.” Harvest ended several weeks ago and there was no major problem with frost. Acreage had been estimated by some as 13,000, but AL-Amery says that may be subject to revision NOTE: Almost all tobacco grown in Canada is grown in the province of Ontario, and almost all Ontario tobacco is flue-cured.
How do you har-vest Connecticut Broad-leaf? Sorting wrapper/ binder and filler grades in a crop of Connecticut Broadleaf takes about two to 2.5 times longer than stripping dark or burley. Leaf dealers have allowed their Connecticut Broad leaf growers to reduce the time spent sorting wrapper and non-wrapper leaves by using a ‘straight strip’ method: Growers strip off and segregate the trash leaves at the bottom of the stalk, then the obvious filler leaves in the lower stalk. All of the leaves in the top half of the stalk that have potential to be wrapper leaves are stripped together and oriented in cardboard boxes. At delivery, the dealer collects samples to determine the percent wrapper grades in the crop and set the price per pound accordingly. Higher prices are offered for crops with higher percent wrapper leaves.

Brazil: The 2020/2021 tobacco crop has come to a close and the 2021/2022 crop is now being transplanted, says ITGA’s Tobacco Courier. A survey of members of the growers association suggests a reduction of approximately five percent in area planted in tobacco.

Zimbabwe: Sales of the 2021 crop were completed with clean up sales at the end of September with a higher than estimated crop to be sold, according to Tobacco Courier. Initial estimates were under 200 million kilograms, but by the end of the season it appeared that close to 212 million kilograms had been sold. Prices late in the market held around US $2.80 vs. 2.50 per kilogram at the same point in the previous market. Prices were firmer because of the better quality on offer.

Malawi: The seasonal average price of all tobacco types on the recently ended market was $1.59 per kilogram, compared to $1.53 per kilogram recorded during the same period last year.


  • The annual TN/KY Tobacco Expo will take place on February 1 at the Robertson County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Tn., with speakers from the Universities of Tennessee and Kentucky and from GAP Connections. 

  • The N.C. Extension tobacco team will hold a series of webinars for flue-cured growers in December. To learn how to participate, see https:// tobacco. ces.ncsu.edu/2021/11/december-webinar-series/. There will be no NC Tobacco Day this year.

  • The Southern Farm Show will be held in Raleigh, N.C., on February 2-4.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021



Burley is enjoying a good curing season so far in Kentucky and Tennessee, like this burley near Lexington, Ky. But in North Carolina, some of the burley remains to be cut very late.
Photo courtesy of Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association.

Dodging the bullet: There was a heavy frost in central Kentucky last night, and freezing weather is expected in the area over the next week, says Jerry Rankin, owner of Farmers Tobacco Warehouse in Danville, Ky. But he doesn't think there is any burley left in the field to be damaged. "The last crop I saw growing around here was cut two weeks ago," he says.

Almost all of the 2021 burley and flue-cured was spared frost damage, although a few growths like the burley of the N.C. mountains and the flue-cured of the N.C. Piedmont still had tobacco unharvested at the beginning of this week.

The first burley auction of the year will take place at Farmers Warehouse the last week of November, says Rankin. But the location will be different: Farmers Tobacco has moved out of its longtime home near Centre College in Danville, Ky. "This year we are selling out of a warehouse on Hwy. 55 between Springfield and Lebanon." For further information, call Rankin at PH 859 319 1400 or call the main warehouse number at 859 236 4932.

Burley projection too high? Rankin is very skeptical about USDA's recent projection of 74 million pounds of burley in Kentucky. "It's been a wet year across the Burley Belt, and wet tobacco doesn't yield that good." Perhaps more damaging, many growers found it difficult to field a full harvest crew because of the labor shortage and didn't get the crop harvested in a timely manner, reducing yield. He thinks 50 million pounds is a more realistic estimate. "I hope I am wrong," he says.

Flue-cured auctions have a few more weeks to go. “We will have two or three more sales,” says Dennis White, owner of the Old Belt Tobacco Sales auction in Rural Hall near Winston-Salem. “Just a little tobacco is still left in the field, and I understand that most of that will be harvested today (Wednesday).” The volume had been good on the last four sales, and White says there is plenty of tobacco remaining to be sold. Most top tobacco attracted bids of around $1.80, White says. “The weather in the Piedmont went well for farmers, and all our farmers made their contract and right much more.”

A vote will take place 0n November 18 on whether to continue the North Carolina research and education assessment . Ballots will be available at county Extension offices that day. The check-off program allocates about $200,000 a year to research and extension projects at N.C. State University. A two-thirds majority of votes is needed to pass.

Report from overseas: Malawi sold a total of 123.7 million kilograms of tobacco (all types) in the market season recently ended, compared to 114 million kilograms last season. That's an increase of 8.5 percent.

A dynasty in tobacco tying? The Maple Hill Loopers won the N.C. Tobacco Looping Contest held October 15 at the State Fair. It was the team’s seventh victory in the annual contest. The team is made up of husband and wife Sandy and Ken Jones of Maple Hill and Michael Sunday of Hendersonville. Sandy looped the stick of tobacco in 58.8 seconds and earned 68 out of 70 points for quality. The team took home a $250 price. The second and third place finishers were the Barbour Vineyard Team of Benson and the Tiemasters of Kernersville.