The Tumut Tobacco Industry
26 September 1906 The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser
The tobacco crops of this district for the past season have turned out well, and are up to growers' expectations.
The climatic conditions have been favourable - none of the dreaded frosts, and very little grub or 'blue mould.'
As soon as the leaf cured by artificial heat was ready and baled, buyers from Sydney visited the district tor the purpose of inspection at the sheds, and to procure samples for submission to headquarters.
When prices had been fixed for the various grades, and the leaf remained in bales for several weeks to form a thorough test, Messrs. J. Gilmour (representative of W. D. and H. O. Wills, tobacco manufacturers), and W. C. Morris (representative of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company) held a meeting of growers at the Woolpack Hotel, Tumut, where samples were laid out on the balcony for comparison and submission of offers.
Prices offered were as follow:-
Special bright: Crouch Bros (D. Chisholm), 9Jd per lb; S. D. Hudson, 9d; Crouch Bros. (Beattie Bros.), 9d. 'A' grade; J. W. Creasy, 8½d; Thos. O'Neill. 8½d; S. D. Hudson, 8d; Crouch, Bros. (D. Chilholm), 8d; Crouch Bros. (Beattie Bros.), 7d. 'B' grade: Crouch Bros. (D. Chisholm), 6d; Thos. O'Neill, 5½d; J. W. Creasy, 5½d. 'C' grade: All growers, 4d per lb.
The planters then held a conference, and agreed to accept the offers.
There was a total of 13¼ tons of flue-cured leaf this year, as follows:- Special bright, ¾ ton; 'A' grade, 5 tons; 'B' grade, 4 tons; 'C' grade, 3½ tons. Although the prices were accepted, growers are murmuring, and hold that with the lightweight 'Hester' variety leaf, tobacco cultivation is not paying too well, as only about 500lb can be grown to the acre, against 12 or 15 cwt of the old leaf.
This year's leaf only pans out at an average of 6d per lb, and then with the fire-curing system (only in vogue here for the last two years) more weight is taken out of the leaf.
The area under tobacco this year is not so great as last season, which is due to the discouraging effect of frosts, having left a quantity of inferior leaf on growers' hands, and what was sold, brought but low prices.
Also there was a dispute with the combine, over low prices paid, when the Royal Commission sat and took evidence in Tumut, just at the time seedbeds were about to be sown, which fact caused planters to decrease their area.
In order to encourage growers in the tobacco industry, and to save expense to amateurs in engaging expert curers at the critical time of charging the furnaces, the combine, at their own expense, sent Mr. Curran, American tobacco expert, to reside in the town for a few weeks, and superintend the curing sheds.
The action was much appreciated by growers, and valuable hints were gained from the expert.
That leaf now being cured by the old and obsolete process of sun-drying, of course, still remains in the district, and will not be ready to handle until next January.
The yield this year, like the fire-cured material, is about the same as last year in quantity, but the quality is much better.
Although the expenditure is greater with flue-curing, sun-dried leaf, as a rule, realises nearly par, as regards price; but with the former, returns are to hand much earlier, each shed full of tobacco occupying only ten days in curing, and very shortly after, it is ready for market.
Seed beds are already planted for next season, and so far there are excellent prospects.
Prices received are much better than previous years - which has also put new energy into the planters.
(From A Correspondent.)