Saturday, August 13, 2022


A good year to knock off lugs? A Georgia farmer uses a delugging machine to remove the lower leaves from his flue-cured crop in this file photo by J.Michael Moore.



Delivery to market of the 2022 flue-market began this past week, and the early response was favorable. “It appears to be a good crop, with better than average quality and about average yield,” says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. “A variety of grades have been offered, ranging from lugs to leaf. The lugs are not the best we have had. This was a good year to delug your crop and clean up your first offerings.” This crop is definitely two to three weeks behind.

The best production in this belt is in southwest Georgia down to the Florida line. There was significantly more rain in that area. Some growers in Georgia and Florida are stripping their crop, getting all that remains in one pass. “But we think it would be better to wait and let the crop ripen further,” says Moore. Bronzing caused by MH, meanwhile, is worse this year than in any other recent year, he adds.

Brown leaves in the bottom grades have had a definite negative impact on prices. Avoid them if you can, says Moore.


Kentucky--Much of the state saw another week of heavy rain as eastern Kentucky attempted to recover from recent flooding. The condition of much of the tobacco crop has improved with recent rain. But there are areas where too much rain has caused leaves to drop and for mold to form.

Tennessee—In middle Tennessee, widespread rains in early August improved most crop conditions. But field work was hindered by the rain. Still, crop condition was greatly improved by the moisture that fell, said NASS-USDA.


Tennessee--The wrapper crop in north central Tennessee is "hit and miss" at this point, says Jason Evitts, a wrapper tobacco grower near Hartsville. “This season, it hadn’t rained much at all. Then between the second and third week of harvesting, we got a lot of rain. That ‘pushed’ the suckers on our Connecticut broadleaf.” He learned that rain in that part of the season really spreads out the Connecticut plant. “It causes sucker pressure and makes it harder to harvest and causes it to take longer to cure.” Still, he was optimistic about how the Connecticut tobacco in Tennessee would turn out. “Especially, those who irrigated appear to have a good crop now.” The early dry weather lead to less disease than in the previous two years, probably because the dry conditions were not conducive to fungus or leafspot diseases. With wrapper tobacco, freedom from disease on the leaf is vitally important, says Evitts.

In other tobacco news:

What are the five major factors in the attrition in grower numbers: Will Snell, Kentucky Extension ag economist, said at a recent meeting of the International Tobacco Growers Association that the number of farms growing tobacco in the country has declined by 93% in the last 20 years. The major reasons:
  • The elimination of the Federal tobacco program;
  • Declining profit margins;
  • Labor and infrastructure changes;
  • Long-term uncertainty and
  • New diversification alternatives.
Why hemp hasn't helped: A few years ago, hemp was seen as a promising diversification opportunity for tobacco farmers, but prices have since crashed due to massive oversupply, credit challenges across the supply chain and slow regulatory response. On the other hand, Snell noted that despite the decline in Kentucky tobacco value, dark tobacco has been able to sustain its value over time. This variety is used for smokeless tobacco products, has limited substitutes on global level and currently brings greater profitability for growers compared to burley.

Crop progress according to USDA-NASS (through August 7): GA–40% Harvested; SC—48% Harvested; NC—Flue-cured 18% harvested; VA—Flue-cured 35% Harvested. TN—Topped 85%; KY—Topped 45%.

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