During the 1950s it was estimated that the flue-cured production requirements were 450 man-hours per acre. Today, the most efficient flue-cured growers can produce tobacco with less than 50 man-hours per acre. Many growers rely heavily on mechanized systems associated with harvesting, handling and curing. Various types of green and cured leaf handling systems are easily integrated into harvesting operations.
The green leaf handling systems have contributed to decreasing the labor and time requirements during loading, but also allow growers to fill each barn with the same quantity of tobacco. Uniform loading helps minimize curing problems and energy consumption. More growers are also utilizing automatic controls, especially ventilation, to improve curing management and decrease energy usage. The savings potential with this technology will depend on how well a grower is currently managing the curing process. Some of the manufacturers associated with harvesting, handling and curing equipment are listed below.