In the Field - Georgia's 2011 Tobacco Season
Monday, August 29th, 2011
Brad joins Dr. J. Michael Moore, tobacco agronomist with UGA Cooperative Extension, as he brings us up to date on Georgia's 2011 tobacco season and the industry's future in the state. Timely. Reliable. Unbiased.
Brad Haire: Welcome to “in the Field.” I’m Brad Haire with the University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. I’m here today with Dr. J. Michael Moore, a tobacco agronomist with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Hey, Dr. Moore.
Dr. J. Michael Moore: Good morning Brad. Welcome to the tobacco field.
Brad Haire: We’re here at the Bowen Farm, UGA Bowen Farm, on UGA Tifton Campus. Dr. Moore, over the past several years the tobacco industry in Georgia has gone through many changes. One of the biggest changes took place about ’04 and ’05. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Dr. J. Michael Moore: Well, there were a couple of changes that took place. We saw the federal buyout of the Federal Quota Program, and that gave growers an opportunity, if they decided to, to take their money and get out of tobacco production and leave tobacco production to some younger folks who were willing to take the risk, who were willing to mechanize and invest additional capital into the future of their production. So, we saw grower numbers drop precipitously, where the older growers generally were getting out and the younger growers were investing capital in mechanization, and we dropped from 1,000 growers down to 225 or so ultimately as a result of that. Our acreage also dropped, but other things were involved in that. Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus was a problem, and the Race 1 of the Black Shank Disease has also caused us problems, and that also encouraged some tobacco growers to get out of production.
Brad Haire: Now, at one time we had about 48,000 acres of tobacco in Georgia, now we’re down to 11,000 this year, which is about the same as we had last year. Now, how is that crop coming off this year? Right now, we are in the middle of harvest in Georgia for those 200 growers.
Dr. J. Michael Moore: We are at the end of a crop that I have thought all season might be the exception and the outstanding crop in my career. However, we received long awaited rains in late June, many of them came as downpours and created problems for some growers who received excess rainfall, and other growers are still waiting for the rain. So that uniform crop that we saw early in the season now continues to be very green and, as growers get pinched on time for harvest and curing, it’s resulting in some tobacco that’s a little green coming out of the curing barn. So, we encourage our growers to wait for tobacco to ripen even if it does look a little late on the calendar.
Brad Haire: Now there has been some new found interest possibly in tobacco and some new opportunities for Georgia tobacco farmers. Where do you see the future of tobacco in Georgia?
Dr. J. Michael Moore: Well, we’re encouraged that we had an opportunity back in the winter and spring to contract additional acreage with a new company that has come into the U.S. and offered contracts throughout the Flue-Cured Production Area for about 100 million pounds of tobacco, 13 million or so of that is contracted in Georgia and Florida. Without those contracts, our acreage would have been down as a result of other contracts that had ended last year.
It is encouraging to see new interest in the crop, whoever the buyer is. We hope that this will be an annual thing, and that those buyers will like the tobacco in Georgia and will come back looking for more of the Georgia crop in the future.
Brad Haire: Dr. Moore, I appreciate you joining me today.
Dr. J. Michael Moore: Good to be with you, Brad.
Brad Haire: Tobacco harvest in Georgia, used to be a big business for a lot of people, still is for some in Georgia. Dr. Moore, I understand you got through with your harvest of your test plot today. Maybe next year I’ll come help you.
Dr. J. Michael Moore: We will look forward to that.
Brad Haire: Now, until next time, take care; give thanks, and good luck.