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December, 2008

Average production, good quality

Zagreb - The 2008 Croatian crop did well this year, according to a trade delegation that visited the US in September.

There was some loss to hail, maybe 10%, but otherwise the growing season went smoothly. Harvest was expected to be complete by the middle of October, which would be right on schedule. Production of 11,000 tons of flue-cured and 1,000 tons of burley was expected.

The main growing area is along the Hungarian border. Most tobacco is grown in very sandy soil.

According to a press statement issued in September by TDR, the leading tobacco company in Croatia, the country produces about 4% of the tobacco produced in Europe. About 2,500 farms are engaged in tobacco production.

About 6,000 hectares are normally planted and they produce 12,000 to 14,000 tons of tobacco a year. About 40% is exported as leaf. Croatia is the only country in continental Europe that has maintained the same level of tobacco production over the past 10 years, TDR said.

This year's crop is of extremely high quality, the statement said.

To maintain the quality of its new brand Avangard - a new-generation cigarette featuring innovative filtration technology of the Seletec filter - TDR said it is purchasing Virginia and burley tobacco from the United States. The unique aroma of these styles is the strong point for TDR. - (Bickers)

More threshing capacity coming to Mysore
New Delhi - A new green leaf threshing plant in Mysore took another step toward completion when the 100 acres of land needed for it was acquired near the town of Nanjangud, about 25 km from the city of Mysore.

An announcement in early September said the plant will be built by India Tobacco Company and will feature state-of-the-art technology and project, with 8 t.p.a. capacity.

The first unit is expected to become operational by 2010. A spokesman for the company said the primary goal is to enhance shelf life of the leaf beyond the current average of two years. Also, it should improve the existing logistical problem of shipping Mysore leaf some distance to threshing units in the state of Andhra Pradesh. - (Bickers)

An old buyer comes back
New Delhi - A good Mysore flue-cured crop from the Indian state of Karnataka was beginning to come to market in September.

“The early indication is that it is a pretty good crop,” said a leaf dealer who does business there. “India sold out its burley, dark air cured, and rustica crops earlier in the year. It should sell well.”

But the initial price wasn’t high enough for some growers who had heard the rosy projections. At the town of Hunsur, they stopped the market on opening day demanding an average price of 100 rupees per kg. Only 92 rupees per kg were being offered at the time.

Mysore flue-cured is a neutral filler. The dealer forecast production at a little over 100 mn kg, up from 95 mn kg the year before.

A “new” customer should help boost sales. China was expected to send a buying delegation to India for the first time in 24 years, said the Indian Tobacco Board.

Meanwhile, transplanting of the burley crops in Yeleshwaram, Raghavapur, and Vinukonda was in full sway in August, the dealer said. - (Bickers)

An effort to reduce firewood use
Tabora - The adoption of a new type of flue-curing barn has allowed some Tanzanian growers to cut their need for firewood in half.

A government official who has observed the barns praised the Tanzanian Cigarette Company (TCC) of Tabora TAZ for its promotion of the technology earlier this year and said the effort deserves government support.

“The company is a true development partner,” Tabora District Commissioner Moshi Chang'a told the Citizen newspaper of Dar Es Salaam. “It is actually doing what was supposed to be done by the government.”

In addition to promoting the so-called “rocket” barn, the company is also supplying seeds and tree seedlings to farmers for tobacco curing in the future. Chang’a said this initiative would greatly save the diminishing forests of Tanzania.

"Apart from supplying modern tobacco curing barns and installation of mud stoves, the project also offers education to farmers on how best to undertake small irrigation schemes, use of improved toilets, and tree planting and rearing techniques," said TCC project coordinator Rebecca Mkufya.

TCC is an affiliate of Japan Tobacco International. - (Bickers)

United States
Tobacco harvest to be better this year
Washington DC - In 2007, southern tobacco farmers endured a severe drought that affected their crops, but weather conditions seem to be better this summer.

In Kentucky, Mason County Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent, Bill Peterson, said currently it is looking like this year’s crop will be "average," which is still a step up from 2007.

Ideally, the summer will start out dry, allowing the roots to develop correctly. Then the rains will come, and the tobacco can grow to its full potential. That is almost the case this year.

Most of the tobacco is being cut right now, and the harvest is expected to continue throughout October. The curing process takes a minimum of six weeks, but is always subject to change.

Once the curing is finished, local farmers will most likely take their tobacco to contract buying and receiving stations. A tobacco buyout in 2004 put an end to auctions, so this is how the farmers sell their product today.

Kentucky farmers will supposedly harvest burley tobacco from about 69,000 acres this year, and forecasters are predicting a yield of 144.9 mn pounds. Although that is actually 6% less than last year’s yield, it will no doubt be of better quality.

Volume of all types swell
Washington DC - Production of all tobacco types in the United States for 2008 was forecast at 796 mn pounds, up 2% from 2007 and 9% above 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.

Area harvested was forecast at 350,440 acres, 2% below last year, while yields were expected to rise slightly to an average of 2,271 pounds per acre, 80 pounds more than in 2007.

Among the individual types:

  • Flue-cured production was projected to be slightly higher than in the previous year’s forecast at 504 mn pounds, virtually unchanged from 2007. Growers plan to harvest 222,000 acres, also virtually unchanged from last year. Yields are expected to average 2,268 pounds per acre, nine pounds more than a year ago.
  • Burley production was projected at 200 mn pounds, 4% below a year ago, on plantings just under 100,000 acres, 9% less than 2007. This would be the lowest burley acreage on record. Yields are expected to average 2,071 pounds per acre, up 120 pounds from last year.
  • Fire-cured tobacco production is expected to total 56.4 mn pounds, up 35% from 2007, on 16,900 acres, 16% above a year ago. The expected average yield is 3,337 pounds per acre, up 482 pounds from the previous year. Growing conditions in Kentucky and Tennessee have improved significantly over last year's drought-like weather.
  • Southern Maryland production is expected to total 4.4 mn pounds, up a whopping 90% from 2007. Plantings are up 82% at 2,000 acres, and average yields are expected to increase 100 pounds to 2,200 pounds per acre. Substantially all plantings of this type are in Pennsylvania.
  • Dark air-cured tobacco is expected to total 21.2 mn pounds, up 58% from 2007, on plantings of 7,200 acres, 45% more than last year. Yields are expected to average 2,950 pounds per acre, up 244 pounds from a year ago.
  • Cigar type production is expected to total 10.7 mn pounds, down 5% from last year, on plantings of 5,890 acres, down 2% from last year. - (Bickers)

Flue-cured growers fleeing frost
Washington DC - The volume of the US flue-cured crop depended as of October 10 on when the season’s first killing frost would arrive.

Graham Boyd, Executive Vice President of the Tobacco Growers Association of NC and a flue-cured grower himself, said on that day that there was still a considerable amount of flue-cured in the field.

What lead to this exceptionally late crop? It could all be blamed on the weather, and of all the weather events that this crop suffered through the year, the most significant one may have been a period of intense and unseasonable heat at the beginning of June in much of the Tobacco Belt, followed by a long period of no rain.

“The crop was at a tender stage, and the heat put it under stress,” said Boyd. “The tobacco waited for rainfall and responded nicely [in terms of yield] when it finally came. But it didn’t grow in a conventional manner. It was delayed considerably, and much of the crop had not been harvested even once by September 1. We normally expect to be well into harvest by then.”

Farmers were faced with the difficult challenge of harvesting a heavy crop in a short time.

“They have been in a race to beat the frost,” Boyd said. “A lot of acres are still at risk.”

A killing frost can be expected in eastern NC any time after October 15. - (Bickers)

Tobacco International - December, 2008

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