Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 3

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 47 of 71

48 tobaccoasia / Issue 3, 2016 July / August By Chris Bickers American farmers have a problem right now, and by all accounts, it is a side effect of the current world oversupply of neutral filler tobacco. Neu- tral filler can be obtained at a much lower price al- most anywhere in the world other than the United States, and this translates into pressure on growers from buyers not to even bring to market this leaf, which is generally considered to be the three or four lowest leaves on the stalk. "This is neutral leaf at best, and we have a lot of it," a leaf dealer told Tobacco Asia. "This prob- lem has gone on forever: In 1978, the federal government introduced the 'four-leaf' program, in which flue-cured growers were encouraged to knock these leaves off." This was considered one of the more successful efforts in those days to sta- bilize the market. But that was in the days of federal price sup- port. Now, farmers contract directly with the man- ufacturers or their dealers, and if they voluntarily reduce their yields—which is what not harvesting the lower stalk will of necessity do—they have no- where to look to for compensation except their companies. "It would seem that this would be simple enough," says the dealer. "It is just a matter of paying farmers enough for their upperstalk leaf to make up for what they lose on the lower stalk. But there has been a lot of disagreement about what that should be, and it is proving a real dilemma." Growers respond Despite all that has been said to this point, it is undeniable that some individual crops produce World to American Farmers: Don't Send Us Thin Leaf A case study for thin lower leaf: This photo was taken August 26 just west of Winston-Salem, N.C., during the memorable 2014 crop when so much of the Piedmont flue-cured crop was very late in development. This field would have normally been half harvested by this date but instead harvest did not begin till after the US Labor Day in September. After so much time in the field, the lower-stalk leaf was extremely thin, and the farmer harvested very little of it.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Tobacco Asia - Volume 20, Number 3