Tobacco Crops Fair Despite US Drought

Roberto Chavez Gonzalez placed a stalk of tobacco on a stick as part of a crew of 5 workers cutting 8 acres of tobacco on Rick Horn’s farm on U.S. 421 near Midway, Ky., Wednesday, August, 22, 2012. This field contains 8 of the 100 acres of tobacco that Horn is raising this season. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff

Charles Bertram — Herald-Leader

As pipe smokers, we live a rather spoiled life at times. Not that we are all filthy rich, but to say that our hobby/inhabit, brings with it a large variety in our selection of pleasures.  Having choices of tobacco itself, through the endless combinations of blending, to casing and more, we are simply spoiled – and I like it! That being said, any fluctuation in that customary standard can cause us to start twitching and calling our therapists. So, to elevate some of what might be your concerns, I thought I’d do some research and offer up a look at this years tobacco crop considering so much of the country is suffering from a major drought.

Searching through news affiliates, network reports, and most importantly local news reports it seems like despite the drought, the 2012 American tobacco crop will be only slightly effected, and should have little to no effect on availability or pricing down the road as this year’s crop is aged, cured, processed, and makes it to market.

As it turns out, it seems that tobacco plants have a bit of genetic predisposition to be more tolerant to natural stresses. In a study performed by The American Society of Plant Biologists, the physiology of Nicotiana tabacum is such that stresses such as drought are handled genetically better than most plants. The results of their study reported (in part) that:

“…the response of plants to a combination of drought and heat shock, similar to the conditions in many natural environments, is different from the response of plants to each of these stresses applied individually, as typically tested in the laboratory. This response was also different from the response of plants to other stresses such as cold, salt, or pathogen attack. Therefore, improving stress tolerance of plants and crops may require a reevaluation, taking into account the effect of multiple stresses on plant metabolism and defense”

While this is of course good information to know, the concern in my mind at least, is that this information is then used to genetically engineer tobacco and other crops to be naturally more drought resistant, etc, turning what is great natural tobaccos into the next generation of GMO crops. Something I’m bold enough to say that no pipe smoking consumer finds as good news.

Western Kentucky crops seem fine. In Zimbabwe, a country ravished by droughts, tobacco is a cash crop that is bringing farmers back from the brink of foreclosure. A recent ABC news report shows record tobacco crops being exported from Zimbabwe.

All in all, pipe smokers have reason to relax and enjoy another bowl.


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