Friday, July 29, 2011

End-of-July tobacco crop report--from Tobacco Farmer Newsletter, August 1

Flue-cured in Georgia is definitely late, at least as compared to the fairly recent past. "Not too many years ago, we would be preparing for our final harvest at the beginning of August," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia tobacco Extension agronomist. "This year, quite a bit of the crop hasn't even been harvested the first time, and topping and suckering is nearly complete. Our crop is progressing now more on the Border Belt calendar." The delay is partly because of weather conditions. But there is another big factor: the trend among Georgia farmers in recent years to transplant later to avoid tomato spotted wilt infection. In Florida, on the other hand, growers generally haven't made the conversion. "They still plant the second or third week of March and stay on the traditional timeline," says Moore. "One farmer in the Hamilton area told me he will start his final harvest the week of August 1"...The hot early season temperatures and especially the hot soil temperatures may have contributed to the appearance of southern stem rot for the third year. But the disease, called white mold when it strikes peanuts, was only scattered...Despite all that, Moore is optimistic for excellent yield and quality in both the Type 14 states...In Eastern North Carolina, the flue-cured crop has been "all over the board," says Norman Harrell, Extension agent in Wilson County, N.C., on July 28. "We had a pretty good start, and there was timely rainfall early. But the 100-degree days in July were tough. Right now, we appear to have a pretty good crop." Growers in his county have been more cautious than ever in managing MH residues, Harrell says. Using less nitrogen and delaying application till after first harvest have been two frequent strategies. "I anticipate residues will be low," he says.

Burley in Tennessee and southern Kentucky has potential for a better-than-average crop, maybe the best in the last three years, says Paul Denton, Kentucky-Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist. "Topping is 10% to 15% complete among burley growers," says Denton. "The dark growers are a little farther along, maybe 25%. But some of both types is ankle high"..."We have at least as many planted acres as last year and it appears we could have a higher yield than last year. So I think we could have a bigger crop"...There appears to be one success story in the burley states this year: Some areas had a wet spring followed by a dry summer. Those are the conditions that usually set the stage for black shank. But Denton says there has been very little this year. That's due to the increased plantings of the black-shank-resistant burley varieties KT-209 and KT-206 that also features black shank resistance, he says. "Probably half of Tennessee burley growers planted one or both of those varieties."

Dark tobacco in western Kentucky and Tennessee has been "as up and down as I have ever seen it," says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist in those states. "But it is starting to level out." Irrigation was just starting, and some problems with compaction were reported. "A lot of dark tobacco here is strip tilled, and in strip tillage, you have a lot of roots growing straight down but not many growing laterally," he says. "You can get sidewall compaction, and that lead in some cases to lodging when we had heavy winds on July 24." But average or better yields seem achievable, he says, and since a few excess acres were set late in the planting season, a normal crop seems well within reach.

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