Tuesday, May 26, 2015


A farmer and his workers set out flue-cured plants near Vass, N.C. (file photo).
BURLEY In the Bluegrass of Kentucky, burley growers are dealing with a lot less tobacco and a late start, says farmer-auction operator Jerry Rankin of Danville, Ky. "We are about two weeks behind now. Maybe 20 percent of the burley has been set in this county. You can drive from Danville to Lexington and you will only see a patch or two planted." Statewide, maybe eight to 10 percent of the crop has been planted. Plants have been slow to grow. "We had a time getting the ground worked," says Rankin. "I hope it doesn't turn off dry." The supply of plants is satisfactory. "I have had better plants, but I have had worse," says Rankin. "On a scale of one to 10, this crop of plants would rate an eight."

In eastern Tennessee, Jeff Aiken of Tedford, near Johnson City, has planted a third of his burley crop, but he has seen very little transplanted on neighboring farms. "I don't know it farmers are holding off because of the dry weather," he said. "Rain has been spotty in east Tennessee, and some areas have been extremely dry. So some farmers may have been hesitant to go full steam ahead on planting. But we did get a little rain Thursday and it has greatly benefited what had been transplanted by that point." Weather conditions earlier slowed the development of plants in the greenhouse. "But mine did just fine." There have been no serious problems in the greenhouse or field. "I had some issues with pythium," said Aiken. "But I jumped right on it with Terramaster, and I didn't get much of a delay." In middle Tennessee, tobacco is being set but needs some moisture, says Extension Agent A. Ruth Correll of Wilson County, which is just east of Nashville, in Tennessee Crop Weather.

And in southwestern Virginia, Washington County Extension agent Phil Blevins says farmers have just begun transplanting, and the crop looks good. "We have an adequate supply of transplants so far." But plantings are going to be down thanks to reductions in contracts, he says.

FLUE-CURED In central and eastern North Carolina, just a few fields remain unplanted. Some farmers have started laying by their flue-cured, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "We have had very good weather except for theLONG TOBACCO BARNtropical storm (on Mother's Day). Places like Kinston and Goldsboro got 4.5 to 7.5 inches. But the farmers were able to deal with it. It has actually been dry since then, but we got sufficient rain Thursday across the state to carry the crop." It has also been cool in the last 30 days, with night time temperatures frequently in the Fifties. But Vann expects the tobacco to take off whenever conditions become normal. Around Kinston, "tobacco transplanting continues to wind down as growers struggle to finish in the wettest fields," says Chris Jernigan, Department of Agriculture agronomist. In the Oxford area, tobacco is progressing, and transplanted fields seem to be in good shape, says Gary Cross, Person County Extension agent in N.C. Crop Progress and Condition. But he adds, "I have seen some transplant replacement work going on."

In the Southside of Virginia, probably 90 percent of the crop is planted, says Chris Brown, Halifax County Extension agent. No rain had fallen in May before Thursday, but then there was about a half inch of rain. "That rainfall helped a  lot," Brown tellsTobacco Farmer Newsletter. "Some of the earlier planted tobacco was getting irrigation because of the dry weather. In just a few fields that we can't irrigate, we saw up to a 50 percent loss due to the dry weather." The crop will be way down, "maybe 20 percent, maybe more," says Brown. It has also been dry in Lunenburg County, a few miles east of Halifax. "We lost some tobacco transplants in the clayey areas of some fields with this dry, hot weather," said Lunenburg Extension agent Lindy Tucker in Virginia Crop Progress and Condition. "Most of the transplants look good and have begun to grow thanks to all of the sunshine we have had."

In the Pee Dee area of South Carolina, it is dry, but tobacco isn't suffering yet, says Ben Teal of Patrick, S.C. "It wouldn't hurt to have a half inch or more on most fields," he says. "The youngest tobacco is suffering the most." His tobacco, all flue-cured, is all planted. "We've had a good survival rate, and we have a good stand. If we get a good shower, the tobacco will hop on up." S.C. tobacco is beginning to grow off real well thanks to warmer temperatures, said Kyle Daniel of Georgetown County. "We avoided those huge rains (on May 11) so farmers were able to get into the fields all (that) week," he said in the S.C. Crop Progress and Condition Report.

 209 Harding St., Danville, Ky.
PH: 859-236-4932

Full-service burley warehouse

Jerry Rankin, Owner

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