State of the art facilities have been established at Southern Piedmont AREC to conduct curing research with burley, dark air-cured and fire-cured, and flue-cured tobacco. Twelve specialized fire-cured barns were constructed in 2008. These barns have excellent control of curing parameters and are equipped with real-time temperature and relative humidity monitoring and data logging capability.
Five small-scale flue-cured barns were donated and have been upgraded with power inverters to allow for precise control of air flow within the barns. A relative humidity sensor developed by Suretrol is being evaluated for use in the flue-cured barns as an alternative to wet-bulb thermometers.
A solar assisted flue-cured barn has been evaluated in an on-farm trial. Comparisons to the conventional barn show an increase in curing efficiency resulting from the preheating of air entering the curing chamber.