Looking to the sky: Farmer Brandon Batten demonstrated how he uses a
drone on his tobacco near Four Oaks, N.C., as part of the N.C. Tobacco Tour
on July 24. There is definitely a future for drones in tobacco production. says
N.C. Extension tobacco specialist Matthew Vann. "The first use might be as a harvesting
aid, to take some guess work out of deciding when to harvest," he says.
BURLEY--The Bluegrass of Kentucky and nearby areas began to get some moisture in early August after a dry spell, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "We still need more, but if we can get some timely rain, we should have good potential for reasonably good yield for this crop." Farmers are well into topping, with some at the beginning stages of cutting, he says. According to USDA, 48 percent of the Kentucky tobacco (all types) and 69 percent of Tennessee tobacco (all types) had been topped by August 6.
DARK--The dark tobacco crop of Kentucky and Tennessee is one of the better in the last 10 years, says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist. "It looks good overall, much better now than a few weeks ago. A little of it is on the dry side where it hasn't gotten much rain in the last three weeks. A few are irrigating." There was some fear about angular leaf spot on the dark types, but it hasn't been too bad. "But you have to be on the watch for it because at this point there is only one treatment--streptomycin," says Bailey.
FLUE-CURED-- By the end of the first week of August, N. C. flue-cured growers had been harvesting for four to five weeks, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "We will be going hot and heavy from here on," he says. Initial curings have been good. "We have produced some pretty good lower stalk tobacco so far. I commend growers for that, particularly as we consider what this crop has been through."
The tomato spotted wilt crisis is over, says Vann, and statewide it wasn't the disaster it appeared to be. "It's a little early to predict how much we lost to it, but I wouldn't be surprised if it pushes five to 10 percent for the state, especially since some of the larger acreage counties were the hardest hit. There were a few areas where losses exceeded double digits."
The blue mold scare in North Carolina this summer turned out just to be a scare. "We had only two farms where it was a problem, one in Caswell County and one in Madison County." Damage was minimal, he adds.
Georgia farmers are well into their second harvest. "Farmers will try to fulfill their crop throw for cutters," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. "Once they have finished with that, we will see more last-over harvesting."
There has been an unusual disease problem in the Deep South, says Moore: frogeye leafspot. "It can be very damaging if it causes several holes on a leaf. These yellow
spots can run together and cover much of the leaf. This may lead to low quality tobacco coming out of the barn." Fortunately, Quadris can be used against it and is well worth the cost. But when you see frogeye you need to jump on it, he says. An accelerated harvest schedule--within reason--can also help.
Surprisingly, spotted wilt wasn't a big problem in Georgia: Damage was less than in an average year, even though the mild winter weather had seemed to set the stage for a bad season.
Harvest report: According to NASS, 66 percent of the flue-cured in Ga., 40 percent in S.C., 27 in N.C. and 22 percent in Virginia had been harvested by August 6.
Irrigation going great guns: Many farmers in all states are irrigating. "We are starting to get dry in most places, and some (burley) tobacco farmers are starting to irrigate," says Ronnie Barron, county agent in Cheatham County north of Nashville. Irrigation is going full swing in some areas of N.C. "Tobacco (flue-cured) is being irrigated here due to lack of rainfall," says Paul McKenzie, Warren County (N.C.) Extension agent." Many farmers have made the first pass on harvesting tobacco, he adds.
grower near Clarksville, Tn., died at the end of July. He was
for many years the farmer president of the Burley
Stabilization Corporation and lead the cooperative through
a period of rapid evolution. He will be remembered primarily
for guiding the cooperative's move from its traditional home in Knoxville, Tn., to Springfield, Tn., near Nashville.
The move proved beneficial since it brought the cooperative
nearer to the majority of its farmer-members after the buyout. He will be remembered by the editor of this
publication for always giving a straight answer to a straight