Craig West, a Wayne County, N.C., tobacco farmer and president of the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina feels certain Hurricane Irene caused some significant shortages in terms of growers' meeting their contracted pounds this year. He speculates tobacco companies potentially may want more tobacco from growers in 2012.
But he's not sure how many growers will want to make the investments in order to increase production. Some will, he says, but others won't.
"Cotton prices are still holding," West says. "They certainly are not as high as they were but I think you would be able to book cotton now in the upper 80-cent to lower 90-cent range, which is excellent.
"And I've heard there is a big shortage of peanuts this year, so there is no telling what peanut contracts will be next year. Right now, anything over contract for peanuts is selling for $1,000 per ton. I feel certain peanuts will be up, higher than they were this year at any rate. Grain prices are still holding, too."
In other words, tobacco has some stiff competition for acres this year. That is especially true because tobacco requires much more equipment to produce than other crops and many operations, like West's for example, is already straining equipment. Tobacco barns purchased in the heyday of the federal tobacco quota system, are aging.
West says this will certainly be on growers' minds when TGANC holds its annual meeting at the Southern Farm Show in the first week of February. That is just the time growers will be making their planning decisions for the 2012 crop.
Other issues likely to be dogging growers at the meeting will be the requirements of FDA regulation. Even though growers have had some time to get used to federal regulation of tobacco, knowledge concerning requirements remains as much in the shadows as ever.
Growers will also welcome the opportunity to hear experts discuss MH (maleic hydrazide) residues and where the limits will be set in 2012.
The Southern Farm Show is Feb 1-3 at the State Fairground in Raleigh. The TGANC annual meeting will be held on the third day of the show, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m. in the Holshouser Building.
To learn more about the show, as well as updates on the TGANC meeting, visit www.southern shows.com/sfs and select the links. The show program will be printed in the January issue of Carolina-Virginia Farmer magazine, due for readers' mailboxes about December 15.