Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

S. Darrell Mundy

Committee Members

Billy J. Travena, Charles M. Cuskaden


The objectives of this study were to determine physical input requirements, yield and quality of cured leaf, cost, and returns per unit of output of burley tobacco using three harvesting and curing systems. Two of the systems were nonconventional and utilized ambient forced-air curing with a two-tier and three-tier curing barns, respectively. The conventional system involved the use of a typical four-tier curing barn. Comparative costs and returns analyses between the conventional system and each of the two nonconventional harvesting and curing systems were conducted. Advantages and disadvantages of the three harvesting and curing systems were also presented.

The burley production process was divided into component production stages and substages based on interdependencies and similarities of labor and equipment functions in performing a certain activity or set of activities. The procedure involved collection, description, computation, and analysis of cost and return data for three burley tobacco harvesting and curing systems. A partial budgeting technique was employed to determine and compare input requirements, costs and returns for each of the three alternatives for three output classifications such as acres, 100 pounds of cured leaf (hundredweights) and sticks. Data utilized in this study were obtained from a field experiment at the Tobacco Experiment Station at Greeneville, Tennessee, in 1980, and, in some cases, were synthesized from other sources. In general, a time-and-motion study combined with economic-engineering approach were used in determining the input-output coefficients.

The conventional harvesting and curing system had the least-cost requirements at each output classification, the highest yield per acre, and highest leaf quality. The lower total cost for the conventional system occurred primarily because of lower nonlabor capital costs for the conventional system as compared to other alternatives. The two-tier nonconventional system had the lowest total labor requirement per acre and per 100 pounds of cured tobacco leaf while the total labor requirement per stick was the lowest for the conventional system.

The conventional system was judged to be the most advantageous alternative because it had the highest residual net return to each of the factors of production. The optimality of the conventional system (the least-cost system that also had the highest residual net returns) was likely not to be affected by the possibility of feasible changes in input and output coefficients and prices of inputs and of tobacco. Even though the two nonconventional harvesting and curing systems were not the optimum alternatives in the budgeting analysis, they had some advantages over the conventional system. For example, the two-tier and three-tier systems had lower marketing quota costs (because of lower yields) and lower labor requirements than the conventional system. They also had slightly better working conditions especially with regard to safety in barning.

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