Christian County top dark fire-cured tobacco producing county

(The Eagle Post, 1 May 2018)

Christian County is the top dark fire-cured tobacco producing county in Kentucky for 2017, and the county also ranks among the top producers for burley tobacco, dark air-cured tobacco and dark fire-cured tobacco, according to recent county estimates released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Christian County produced 8,800,000 pounds of dark fire-cured tobacco from 2,880 acres and was top producer among three counties.

Trigg County produced 4,150,000 pounds, while Logan County produced 1,150,000 pounds of dark fire-cured tobacco.

Total production for dark fire-cured tobacco in the state was 37,950,000 pounds harvested from 11,500 acres, NASS officials said.

Additionally, Trigg County had the highest dark fire-cured tobacco yield at 3,515 pounds per acre. Christian County yielded 3,055 pounds per acre, while Logan County yielded 2,555 pounds per acre.

Yield for the dark fire-cured tobacco in Kentucky increased from 2,300 pounds per acre in 2016 to 3,300 pounds per acre in 2017.

Christian County ranked fifth in burley tobacco production in the state for 2017, with production totaling 3,920,000 pounds. The county ranked third in production of dark air-cured tobacco, with 1,400,000 pounds and fifth-highest in dark air-cured tobacco yields.

Christian County yielded 2,640 pounds per acre of the dark air-cured.

NASS released its county estimates from the 2017 production year on Thursday, and officials noted that combined tobacco production in Kentucky totaled $296,272,000 in cash receipts in 2016.

“Weather conditions favored yields in 2017, following the 2015 and 2016 crop years in which producers fought weather and disease,” said David Knopf, director of Kentucky’s NASS Eastern Mountain Regional Office.

He noted that the combined increase in acreage and yield compared to 2016 produced a crop totaling just more than 183 million pounds.

“Fire-cured yields tended to be better than burley and air-cured yields, compared with historical averages,” he said.

Christian seeing employment growth

Christian and Trigg counties have been seeing some fairly steady growth in employment in the past couple of years, says one University of Kentucky official.

“The area seems to be growing in terms of employment, but it’s growing at a slower rate than the state as a whole,” noted Mike Clark, the associate director for the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Lexington university.

Clark said the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, which recently released annual unemployment data for individual counties, does some contracting with the university to compile its employment data.

The center is a part of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Clark said unemployment has generally been growing in the state for a few years, and that growth is continuing following a turn-around from the recession a few years ago.

“We’re continuing to see that growth in 2017 and the first few months in 2018,” said Clark, who pointed to growth in Christian County that he said has been ongoing for the past 19 months.

Christian County had 470 more people who were employed in 2017, 23,563 people in comparison to 23,093 in 2016, according to the data from the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics. Trigg County grew from 5,429 to 5,525 employees.

The center released its unemployment data on Monday, pointing particularly to unemployment rates that decreased in 80 Kentucky counties, rose in 24 counties and stayed the same in 16 counties. In the Pennyrile Area Development District, rates decreased in all but Crittenden, Livingston and Trigg counties, but Clark said he prefers to look at employment numbers when considering the trends in a given community.

He pointed to Christian and Trigg counties and the local development district and noted that all three have experienced growth; in the months from 2016 to 2017, the Pennyrile district as a whole gained 793 employees when looking at actual numbers.