Tobacco Asia

Volume 19, Number 5

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16 tobaccoasia / Issue 5, 2015December/January) By Chris Bickers A new and potentially lucrative use for tobacco will soon be put into commercial production in the United States. Tyton BioEnergy Systems of Danville, Va., will contract with farmers to grow what it calls "energy" tobacco, says Conor Hart- man, a Tyton vice president. It will be used for the manufacture of bio-products, including green chemicals, ethanol, and biodiesel. For now, the energy tobacco will be delivered to a pilot-scale extractor in Danville. Later, there will be a commercial-scale extractor in Raeford, NC, once it is complete. The cost of producing energy tobacco should be much lower than that of flue-cured, burley or any of the dark types. Economies will be achieved in: – Plant production. The savings will be 100%, since farmers won't produce their own plants. Ty- ton will provide them. – Sucker control. Another area of 100% sav- ings because suckers won't be controlled. But top- ping is desirable. – Curing. Again, 100% savings. There won't be any on-farm curing. Tyton will take delivery of fresh cut tobacco straight from the field. – Harvesting. It will be drastically different from current tradition, but again there will be a considerable saving at the farmer level. Farmers will harvest with a silage chopper, probably once in mid summer and once more at the end of the season, rather than either pulling the leaves from the stalks or cutting the stalks and hanging them in a barn. But there will be no change in control of in- sects and diseases. Fertility programs may need to be changed, but Tyton leaders don't expect a sig- nificant increase in total fertilizer per acre. A Non-Conventional Production Program Farmers will set out their energy tobacco with a traditional transplanter. The plant density is still to be determined but will be several times what is normal in conventional tobacco. The first har- vest would take place in mid summer, probably in July. Tyton's testing yielded good results this past summer when the cooperating farmer used a John Deere tractor with a Kemper header. "We are very pleased with how that worked," says Hartman. "It is our aim to minimize the labor needed and maximize mechanization. It will be ideal if our farmers can use existing machinery." The header cuts stalks and leaves together, and the silage chopper shreds both stalks and leaves and into smaller pieces which are blown into a truck or conveyance and transported to the extractor. How Tobacco Could Be Used to Produce Energy These are John Deere tractors. The silage cutting attachment is made by Kemper.

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