GEORGIA-FLORIDA: Harvest got under way in Florida in mid June, and it was not far behind in Georgia. "I visited one farmer in Florida who was taking out his first three barns on Wednesday and another who was taking out his first two," said J. Michael Moore, the Extension tobacco agronomist for Georgia and Florida, on June 21. The early season was extremely dry in Florida and in Georgia, and some growers had to irrigate to get a stand. But from early May through mid-June, rains were adequate and in a few areas even excessive. "Some farms, mostly in the east, got 15 to 21 inches in that time period," said Moore. "Conversely, rainfall in some areas west of I-75 has been very limited." All tobacco in both states had been transplanted by the beginning of June--an estimated 850 acres in Florida and 9,000 acres in Georgia. The limiting factor was plants. "We planted every plant we had," said Moore. "We had some fields affected by wind and sandstorms where the farmers wanted to replant but couldn't, because plants weren't available." Nevertheless, Moore said that as of June 15, Georgia-Florida growers had the chance to produce a very good crop. He said harvest would start in Georgia the week of June 26 and get going in earnest around July 4. The crop may be about a week ahead of schedule at this point, he says.
CAROLINAS-VIRGINIA: North Carolina experienced some excessive rain from transplanting to mid June. "Still, the crop looked exceptional almost everywhere we grow flue-cured," said Loren Fisher, N.C. Extension agronomist. "The Eastern N.C. crop got off to a very fast start. Some were topping on June 14, and some growers may be able to start harvest by July 4. All our growers appear happy with this fast start." One of the few problems he saw was that the Piedmont crop had been to an extent cut into two crops by a period of rain so heavy that planting had to be stopped. But that will only be a problem if it causes very late harvest of the later planted tobacco. As to planted area, he said that is a moving target, but 165,000 to 170,000 acres would be a good number for planning purposes. About 35 percent of the South Carolina crop was topped by June 17, well ahead of the five-year average for this date of 20 percent. Many Virginia flue-cured growers have laid their crop by and are applying their first contact sucker control applications, said David Reed, Virginia state flue-cured agronomist. "The crop looks very good. It is rather uniform. Our rainfall has been very sporadic." He estimates that acreage is up five to 10 percent to maybe 21,000 acres. "Our transplants were ready earlier than normal, and we went to the field early." By June 1, maybe 75 percent was set, noticeably earlier than normal. By June 15, most if not all the crop was in the field.
KENTUCKY-TENNESSEE: Most burley states finished planting early. Close to 95 percent of Tennessee tobacco had been transplanted by June 15, said Paul Denton, Kentucky-Tennessee tobacco agronomist, while 89 percent of the Kentucky crop was in the field. Burley plantings in North Carolina were 91 percent complete by mid June, according to USDA, while those in Virginia were 98 percent complete. Central Tennessee and Kentucky, however, were hot and dry, with rainfall during the growing season three or four inches below normal. "We may soon see some problems if there are no general rains," he said. Plantings in the two states is up a little, including a few extra acres set out just because the supply of plants was so good. "Growers are more optimistic than in either of the two past years," he said.
APPALACHIANS-PENNSYLVANIA: The crop in the Appalachian portion of Tennessee--the eastern part of the state--looked, Denton said, "as good as I have ever seen it, and I was born and raised in the area!" In southwestern Virginia, too, the burley crop was off to its best start in five years, said Danny Peek, state tobacco agronomist. There was an unexpected problem of early black shank. It was seen mainly in fields where growers had been growing a resistant variety for several years and saw no black shank. Assuming the disease was gone, they switched to a short season variety with little black shank resistance and found out the fields had black shank after all. The Pennsylvania tobacco crop--made up of roughly equal acreages of burley Southern Maryland and seedleaf and a little dark air-cured--was well ahead of schedule compared to any recent season, said Jeff Graybill, Pennsylvania Extension agronomy educator. "It appears as if there is a little movement of blue mold out in the field. We are supposed to have dry weather for the next week, which should help."
KENTUCKY-TENNESSEE-VIRGINIA: The dark types of Kentucky and Tennessee lagged behind their normal planting schedule. Andy Bailey, Extension tobacco agronomist for those two states, said 15 percent of the two crops remained to be planted at the middle of June. Extreme drought earlier in the season was the reason, and some crops had to be abandoned. The Tennessee crop was in better shape than Kentucky's, Bailey said. A farmer near Clarksville, Tn., told Tobacco Farmer News on June 22, "It is getting on the dry side here. There are not many farmers who couldn't use a rain, and some need it bad!" Planting of the small Virginia dark fire-cured crop was finished by June 17, according to USDA. Field conditions were dry to begin with, but rains on May 29 helped. Acreage appears similar to last year.