PLANTING WINDS UP FOR FLUE-CURED, JUST GETTING STARTED FOR BURLEY
A transplanting crew sets out flue-cured plants near Kenly, N.C., on May 9.
FLUE-CURED: In North
Carolina, at least 75 percent of the flue-cured has been
transplanted. "Or maybe a touch more," says Matthew Vann,
N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "The vast majority of the
east is done, maybe close to 100 percent except for farmers who are
still scrambling for plants. The growers in the Piedmont are wide
open now and should wrap up by next week if the weather holds up."
In South Carolina, area Extension agronomy agent William Hardee
in Conway says he thinks that substantially all the tobacco in his
area has been transplanted. Tobacco in the field in Georgetown
County had begun to "flatten out" in almost every
field making it suitable for cultivation, says Georgetown County
Extension agent Kyle Daniel. In Georgia, transplanting was
completed last week, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco
specialist. The plant supply was tight. "We used the very last
plant available in the state. I'm estimating 15,000 acres, but of
course we have no way of actually knowing how many acres are
planted." About the time the last plants were set, much of the
tobacco area got two to 5.5 inches of rain from last week's
system. In Florida, the crop is completely set, and
some farmers are planning sucker control.
BURLEY: In Kentucky, perhaps 25 percent of the burley crop has been set, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "We are farther along in the southern part of the state, but we are making progress everywhere,” he says. The plant supply seems
to have straightened out, probably because some expected contracts
didn't come through and others came in late, he says. In southwestern Virginia, very little of the burley crop has been transplanted so far, according to Extension sources. A shortage of plants is expected. In west North Carolina, transplanting was a little farther along, with 39 percent of the burley crop estimated set by May 18. But that was still well behind the five-year average of 65 percent. In Tennessee, farmers in the state's leading burley county are ahead of schedule on transplanting, says Macon County Extn. Director Steve Walker. "The tobacco that is out now looks scary good."
What if you can't get sulfate of potash? "It looks like some supply stores may not have it when you need it," says Pearce of Kentucky. "You should have a plan on how to deal with that." One possible alternative: "If your supplier can get sulfate of potash to you within a month of transplanting, you could still scatter it over the top and get good results." But be sure the tobacco is completely dry when you do it. If it's wet, there could be burning.
Tennessee farmers are having the same problems getting sulfate of potash as everyone else. "I hope we don't have to use much muriate," says Walker. "It interferes with curing." If you know a year beforehand that you will have to apply muriate to tobacco, put it out in the fall, he suggests. "The rain and snow will leach it out over the winter." But it's best not to use muriate at all on tobacco.
A "wait and see" approachcould make nitrogen application more efficient, says Vann of N.C. You might want to apply 75 to 80 percent of your total nitrogen in two applications and then later apply the remaining 20 to 25 percent in the third. "A third application provides a lot of flexibility later in the season for producers using liquid nitrogen and drop nozzles," he says. "This provides the benefit of not applying too much nitrogen in a dry year, while still being able to make a leaching adjustment in a wet year."
Flexibility could come in very handy, considering the irregularity of weather patterns over the last few growing seasons--extremely dry in 2010 and 2011 and extremely wet in 2013 and early 2014. "We are just as likely--maybe more likely--to have a dry summer as a wet one," Vann said. "You don't want excess nitrogen to turn your tobacco green late in the season."
In other news:
A new c.e.o. for the flue co-op--The U.S. Tobacco Cooperative (USTC) has appointed Stuart Thompson, its chief financial officer, to the apparently new position of chief executive officer. Thompson, 49, has 18 years of experience in senior management roles in several industries, but has only been involved in tobacco since he joined USTC in 2011. A statement from USTC's board chairman -- grower Jimmy Hill of Kinston -- noted Thompson's strong management and financial back ground but gave no indication of what his duties would include or what change if any there would be in the duties of USTC president J.T. "Tommy" Bunn.
was the targetearlier
this month when a human rights organization issued a report
alleging significant use of child labor on leaf farms. Its clear goal
was to try to embarrass cigarette manufacturers and to
create some method of third-party monitoring to prevent their
recurrence. "Children in tobacco fields can't avoid being
exposed to dangerous nicotine, without smoking a single cigarette,"
said Margaret Wurth, children's rights researcher at Human Rights
Watch (HRW) and co-author of the report. "It's no surprise the
children exposed to poisons in the tobacco fields are getting sick."
Graham Boyd, executive vice president of the Tobacco Growers
Association of North Carolina (TGANC), responded that much of the
report is a distortion. He noted that the report was based on 141
interviews with children ages seven to 17 who were reportedly working
on tobacco farms in N.C., Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. The
number was quite small in comparison to all tobacco workers. "If
all 141 incidents in the HRW report had occurred in N.C. alone, that
would be a ratio of .004 percent of the workers in N.C.," he
said. "Could the statement be made that 99.006 percent are doing
it correctly?" To see the short version that accompanied the
report, along with the full text of Boyd's response, see elsewhere in this blog.
Dates to remember:
May 23, 10 a.m. GAP Certification Meeting. Hancock Health Department, 178 Willow St., Sneedville, Tn. Contact: 423-733-2526.
July 14-16. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Details to follow.
July 30. Virginia Tobacco Field Day. Southern Piedmont AREC, Blackstone, Va.