More Help, Less Digital and Better Curing

I have long been aware that I needed help on the farm. I have been comparing my capacity to farm with Profit and Loss. The Profit that any business makes is the small difference between too large numbers – the costs and the income. I now believe that the time equivalent of Profit is the time that you have available to plan changes; this time is the small difference between all the hours that we have available, and the hours that we HAVE to spend doing the things that HAVE to be done – like wages, NAPSA, VAT, maintenance etc. Therefore, if a secretary or PA can just save you a few hours a day, it can make a BIG difference to those precious hours that you need for planning. I have no concrete proof (but a nasty sneaking suspicion) that, as I get older, I am less efficient and so need MORE help in order to generate those precious hours.

Then along comes an article that claims this Digital Age is ALSO making us less efficient. In a study of students, those that had an e-mail that they wanted to answer, performed up to 10 IQ points worse than those students who had answered the email before they were required to do the same complex task. I have ordered the book, but the author’s conclusion: spend at least 2 hours a day away from anything digital.

So we are all victims of the Digital Age and some of us are victims of Old age (to various degrees). Even a pretty mediocre personal assistant made a huge difference to me in 2014, and the one I have now, seems much more promising. I do seriously recommend that, if your wife is not helping out in the office and with other administrative functions, you consider employing a Personal Assistant.

I wonder how many farmers have reminded themselves of just how serious a Z factor is? On last year’s price list an L2L would have earned over K25; an L3LZ (and yes, we will always get a double hit, downgraded from 2 to 3 and THEN have the Z put on) is worth just K4. So we CANNOT afford to cure any Z style tobacco. Having reminded himself, I wonder whether that farmer has made all his staff aware of the problem too. I was fairly critical of Nick and Tim for not doing more to work out what was wrong with their fertilization. I should have looked myself in the mirror for not doing enough about the Z style. If my whole crop went Z (which it won’t) it would be like selling a 4000kg/ha crop for the equivalent of 640kg/ha – FAR less than either Nick or Tim can expect off their “poor” crops. So, I have to try to slow down my curing some more until there is no K or Z left!

When I discussed this with Richard Duckett, he was concerned that a slower cure would cost me more in weight. It is very difficult to know – it’s a close call. If I estimate my current crop as 50% L2L, 40% L3LK and 10% L3LZ and, by curing slowly I manage to improve that to 70% L2L, 25% L3LK and 5% L3LZ, I can only lose 15% of weight (otherwise I will be back to where I started) – which is not a very large margin.

So, I have done several experiments: I have identified 3 “identical” clips of my K/Z variety and cured one in my slowed down tunnel; one in my long 9 barn chongololo and one in my shorter 7 barn chongololo. Results should be out for next week’s blog. I identified 2 other “identical clips” (from the same variety) and one I jumped forward 3 days in the tunnel, and the other stayed behind to be cured slowly. The fast one has come out – and there is hardly any Z or K…just a bit of V, so POSSIBLY the slow cure is NOT the answer for this tobacco in this season. But, one swallow doesn’t make a summer (or, as someone else has said, the plural of anecdote is not data) so I will want to do more trials, before I jump to any conclusions.
We are also calling in my smokers to do a smoking trial!

Best for now,


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