In spite of a number of bad weather occurrences early in the year, including excess moisture and several straight line wind events from Edgecombe County through Pitt County, North Carolina tobacco finished up a winning season in 2012, says Graham Boyd, chief executive officer of the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina. The crop took some tobacco out of the supply line, Boyd says, "probably 20% of its potential." However, the results of that weren't all bad.
"That reflected in the market by tobacco selling really well," Boyd says. "That is the highlight of the year. Prices moved up on average, between 8 and 14 cents, depending on where a company might already have been positioned with its grade price sheet."
Agricultural economists Blake Brown, N.C. State University, and Will Snell, University of Kentucky, also note some optimistic highlights for the industry in their latest jointly-produced annual report, U.S. Tobacco Situation and Outlook. Excise taxes have not been increasing at a fast rate over the last year, they note, and demand is high. Although as Boyd noted, some growers were hampered by weather this year Brown and Snell point out most growers still experienced good weather for their 2012 crop, allowing them to make good quality.
Boyd says that although some big growers in the most productive flue-cured counties, including Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties, had a light crop this year in terms of quantity, it wasn't a large number of growers who were short on meeting their contract quotas. One result of that is "I think there is an improved spirit or disposition among growers right now," he says.
The October 1 USDA crop report estimates flue-cured production will come in at about 494.6 million pounds, 59% higher than the 248 million pounds produced in 2011. Harvested acres are forecast in North Carolina at 164,200, 4,200 acres more than last year.
Boyd made his remarks in anticipation of the Annual Meeting of Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina, slated for Feb. 1 at the Southern Farm Show. Boyd says speakers at the meeting will discuss the tobacco outlook as well as the political situation for the crop. It is slated for 9:30 a.m. in the Holshouser Building on the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.