The question most often asked throughout the flue-cured tobacco area this winter was, “Will growers need new curing barns if they plant a substantially larger crop?”

For David Reed, Virginia Extension tobacco specialist, the answer is easy.

“We don't have enough curing capacity now,” he told Southeast Farm Press in December. “Much of the 2012 flue-cured crop here — perhaps 25 percent — was cured in October, mainly because the farmers didn't have enough barns to cure any faster.”

To have tobacco in the field that late is not managerially sound, he said.

“Historically, we get a killing frost in the flue-cured area around Oct. 15,” Reed said. “It has come later the last few years, but that is not going to last. We need to be able to harvest all of our crop before that historical frost date.”

In other words, Reed thinks more new barns need to be brought into use even if production stays the same. And if it rises, even more barns will have to be acquired.

So it is no wonder that manufacturers of bulk barns went into high gear over the winter to meet the demand from farmers.

If you decide to buy a new barn, make it as efficient as possible, said Reed. “Look for a unit that can give 11 to 12 pounds of cured leaf per gallon of fuel,” he said. “It should have automatic curing control built in rather than retrofitted in, and it should be as well insulated as it possibly can be.”

He also strongly advises insulating the barn pad. “We can demonstrate that you can recoup the costs in one year,” he said. “There aren't many things in agriculture that pay back that quickly.”

Where to buy barns

A number of companies are building bulk barns on order this season.

Among them are:

• Carolina Tobacco Services of Bennettsville, S.C. Call Dale Hutchins at 843-479-3804 or go to http://www.tobaccoequipment.com.

• Long Tobacco Barn Company LLC in Tarboro, N.C. Call Bob Pope at 252-824-3794.

• Taylor Manufacturing of Elizabethtown, N.C. Call Ron Taylor at 800-545-2293.

• MarCo Mfg. of Bennettsville, S.C.

Call Tom Pharr at 843-479-3377 or see the website at http://marcomfgllc.us/.

• Tytun Ltd. of Simcoe, Ontario, Canada. Call 519-428-0044or see the website http://www.tytun.ca.


• DeCloet SRL, Italy. Call Len Erdelac at 519-983-0432 in Ontario or go to http://www.decloet.it.

• World Tobacco, Inc., of Wilson, N.C. Call Billy Price at  252-230-1032 or go to http://www.worldtob.com.