Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 3

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Page 48 of 71

tobaccoasia 49 lower-stalk leaf that is appealing enough to manu- facturers/dealers that they willingly bought it and presumably found a use for it in their blends. Agronomists associated with North Carolina State University analyzed of factors that will help the lower leaves to have better buyer demand. "The first decision to be made is whether to harvest or not to harvest the first three or four leaves," the agronomists said. "The economics as- sociated with the decision not to harvest are not good because some costs associated with these leaves have to be made up by selling the remainder of the leaves for significantly more than current contracts predict. Therefore, many growers are ex- pected to try to harvest at least some of the lower leaves." They put together for farmers a list of prac- tices to improved their chances of producing in- demand lower leaf. The farmer can: --Harvest by hand and simply instruct his workers not to pick the bottom leaves. --Be sure excess nitrogen is not present. No more than medium-sized growth is desired. --Harvest the lower leaves very early, long be- fore leaf deterioration begins and before the leaves become overripe. --Have the resources so that you don't have to harvest leaves when they are wet (and that includes wetness from the dew). Workers on foot hand harvest flue-cured leaf in this file photo from the Winston-Salem, N.C., area, also taken on August 26, 2014. It will be seen that a farmer's decision not to harvest lower-stalk leaf—or even to knock this leaf off—will be easier if he is hand harvesting, since his workers can exercise judgement as to what should be harvested. This is much more difficult, though certainly not impossible, to do with a mechanical harvester.

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