Monday, April 2, 2012

Planting season gets off to an early start


In the Deep South, planting is well under way. In Florida, says J. Michael Moore, Extension specialist, about two thirds of the crop has been planted. Some has been out for three weeks, he says. Georgia farmers are ahead of schedule as well. There was a big upswing in transplanting in Georgia the last week of March. By the week after Easter, half or more of the plantings will be in the field in Georgia. Floridians may be finished by then. This relatively early planting season may affect tomato spotted wilt infestations. "There is an abundance of thrips now," says Moore. "They are finding their way to tobacco fields soon after transplanting. But pecan trees are leafing out and there are plenty of plants that are green right now, so perhaps that will decrease the thrips in tobacco"...About five percent of the S.C. crop had reportedly been set out by late March. Extension specialist Dewitt Gooden says that the first week of April would be the big week for transplanting, although a few farmers will wait till the week after Easter out of tradition.


From this point on, greenhouse management becomes very important. "Clip so that the plants are not overgrown and to enure adequate air movement in the canopy." Moore says. "We have had enough disease so that the plant supply is rather tight. We may have to transport plants from N.C." The performance of plants in the greenhouse in S.C. has been very mixed, but Gooden thinks there will be enough to go around.


In North Carolina, a good greenhouse season: A flue-cured grower in Oxford, N.C., told Tobacco Farmer Newsletter that he decided not to grow tobacco this year and instead is now selling plants. It has worked out well so far. The plant season has been good in the Old Belt, and he expects to mow for the last time in early April and be ready to move his plants out at the end of April. He doesn't rule out getting back into leaf production. "But the companies are not paying us enough to produce the tobacco they need. I might reenter the business if the pay gets better." He thinks $3 a pound might bring him back in. He sold his 2011 crop for $1.84.

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