The upcoming tobacco marketing season presents growers with just the kind of marketing problem that no grower wants to face: Large competing foreign inventories, many of them very low-priced.

But there may be a way to get around the problem if you take steps to produce high quality leaf. That is certainly what buyers are going to be looking for.

“The world is awash in flue-cured, but it is poor-quality flue-cured,” said Blake Brown, North Carolina Extension economist, at the U.S. Tobacco Forum in June. “The world is certainly not awash in high-quality flue-cured.”

The situation is similar for burley. “While there is an ample supply of burley, high quality stocks are in tight supply,” Will Snell, Kentucky Extension agricultural economist, pointed out at the Forum.

Three factors — the quality problem for 2010 U.S. burley, the uncertainty caused by the threat of flavoring regulations and uncertain exchange rates — all contributed to the relatively poor outlook for the tobacco market this year.

But economists generally predict the best prices will go to the growers who have adopted practices that improve both quality and efficiency, whatever they might be.