Thursday, June 4, 2015


Discoloration on underside of this Kentucky burley leaf indicates sporulation of the 
blue mold pathogen (Photo--University of Kentucky).


Blue mold has been found on burley in Greene County in northeastern Tennessee. Because the windborne blue mold spores can travel vast distances if conditions are right, Extension specialists in Tennessee and Kentucky recommend that all growers who still have burley plants in the greenhouse treat them with protective chemicals by Friday. Extension plant pathologist Steve Bost and tobacco specialist Eric Walker, say growers in all burley-producing areas of Tennessee need to be prepared for an outbreak. In Kentucky, the southern and southeastern part of the state should be considered to be at high risk for exposure to the disease, says Bob Pearce, Extension tobacco specialist, while the central and northeastern part of the state are at moderate risk. Western Kentucky does not appear to be at high risk just yet, but growers should remain vigilant in case new areas of infection are found. Here is what Bost, Walker and Pearce are advising:

In the greenhouse--All plant producers in both states should treat either with Manzate (active ingredient mancozeb) at 0.5 pound per 100 gallons or with Quadris at four ml per 1000 square feet at this time. But there are several points to consider.Note 1: Quadris can only be used one time in the greenhouse. That could be a problem in younger beds if there is a need for a target spot application of Quadris later. Note 2: Manzate provides very good blue mold protection, but it is not systemic and requires good coverage. Also, some contracts prohibit the use of mancozeb so check before treating with Manzate. Note 3: It might technically be possible to use Presidio for blue mold in the greenhouse and stay in compliance with the label, says Pearce. "But I would hesitate to recommend it. It doesn't appear to me that the language on the label specifically supports a greenhouse application." With so much concern with off-label residues, it would probably be prudent to keep Presidio out of the greenhouse. Note 4: Aliette is also labeled at a rate of 0.5 pound per 50 gallons. Do not apply any other fungicide to plantbed tobacco, especially not Actigard.

In fields not yet transplanted--Presidio is labeled as a transplanter water treatment for black shank control. This treatment provides control of black shank and may also provide some blue mold protection for a while--but the blue mold activity is not well documented. Pearce says you probably should consider using this treatment only in fields that have a history of black shank, to ensure you get some benefit from it.

For fields already transplanted--Scout for blue mold in the field immediately and treat if you find it. In northeastern Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky, the risk is sufficiently acute that producers should apply a foliar spray now, the specialists say, with one of the following: Revus (eight fluid ounces per acre), Forum (two to eight fluid ounces per acre, rate dependent on plant size), Presidio (four fluid ounces per acre), or Quadris (six to 12 fluid ounces per acre depending on plant size). The blue mold resistance activator, Actigard, cannot be used on burley less than 18 inches in height. Forum and Presidio must be tank mixed with a blue mold fungicide with a different mode of action. Presidio is labeled for use as a foliar treatment for plants in the field. The foliar application is known to be effective against blue mold but the label requires Presidio must be mixed with another blue mold fungicide with a different mode of action. But Forum and Revus cannot be mixed or alternated, as they have the same mode of action. Manzate is a good tank mix and rotation partner, but again check your contract to make sure it is acceptable. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Office for help in forming a plan for blue mold management. You can find more information in the 2015 (Kentucky) Guide to Tobacco Fungicides.

A few months from now, we will almost certainly be awash in excess production. What will be the best way to sell it? Mann Mullen, the owner of Big M Warehouse in Wilson, N.C., says that regardless of the supply and demand, an auction is going to be the best choice to get the best price for your uncommitted leaf. "I believe that the farmers who sell here will get the best price they possibly can," Mullen says. "I certainly think they will gain more in higher price than the commission we charge." Competition is the key: He has had at least six buyers at every sale, and he expects that many this season. Most are dealers. Mullen's warehouse, known as Liberty Warehouse for most of its commercial life, has roughly 100,000 square feet and can hold roughly a million pounds at a time. Rather than a traditional "live" auction, Mullen runs a sealed bid auction, where buyers review the tobacco one at a time and make their bids in writing. He accepts tobacco in bales, sheets or boxes. "We grade it out and put it in lots," he says. Farmers have the right of refusal of a bid. "If they want, we offer it again at the following sale," Mullen says. "Everything offered on our floor has entered the trade." 

Could the global oversupply of leaf last beyond the current season? George C. Freeman III, chief executive officer of Universal Corporation, recently suggested that with current inventory volumes as high as they are, the oversupply conditions may continue past this season, even though the current crop has clearly been reduced and some leaf customers report recent recoveries in certain of their retail product markets.  

Budworms have started to appear in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina, but the populations are low, and foliar applications are not likely to pay off. "In fact, treating too early for tobacco budworm can actually result in more, rather than less, insecticide applications," says Hannah Burrack, N.C. Extension entomologist. "We do not see a benefit from making foliar treatments for tobacco budworm before they reach threshold"...Scout regularly to determine if tobacco budworm populations have reached the 10 percent treatment threshold, she says. "Just because moths are flying does not necessarily mean that larvae are present in tobacco fields because budworms may feed on many different plants and predators may attack and kill large numbers of larvae feeding on tobacco." You can read more at the N.C. Tobacco Portal--

In Kentucky, entomologist Lee Townsend advises burley growers to examine the buds for budworm feeding damage. Treat if there are five or more live budworms (less than 1.25 inches long) per 50 plants and topping is at least one week away. Tobacco plants can compensate for budworm damage, so avoid unnecessary treatments. Infestations tend to be greatest in earliest-set fields. 

Sweet potato juice? Universal Corporation is building a facility near its Nashville, N.C., leaf processing plant to extract juices from the sweet potato. The facility, operated by a subsidiary called Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients (CIFI), will produce sweet potato juices for use as an ingredient in commercial vegetable juices, which are the fastest growing sector of the U.S. juice market, says John Kimber, CIFI's chief operating officer. It's hoped that production will begin this fall. A fringe benefit: The juicing process doesn't require the premium grade of sweet potato that groceries and restaurants demand. Fruits that are too small or too large or are misshapen in some way will probably work just fine, says Kimber. "We are building a business with less than perfect sweet potatoes," he says. "These types of potato are sometimes hard for the farmer to market, and this can create a use." The company will likely purchase sweet potatoes only from N.C., the leading sweet potato state, because of concerns about sweet potato weevils. For information on contracting, contact product sourcing manager Josh Warren at 252 343 1668 or at There is an informative website at

  • June 8-10. Georgia-Florida Tobacco Tour, starting at Waycross, Ga. Contact: J. Michael Moore at 229-386-3006 or
  • June 25, Tobacco Field Day. UT Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center, Springfield, Tn. Contact: Barry Sims at 615-382-3130
  • July 16. South Carolina Tobacco Tour, Pee Dee Research & Education Center, Florence, S.C. Details to follow.
  • July 20-22. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Details to follow. Contact: Mina Mila at 919-513-1291 or
  • July 29. Annual Tobacco Research Field Day. Southern Piedmont AREC, Blackstone, Va. Registration begins at 5 p.m., followed by dinner. Tour will begin at 6 p.m. Contact: Margaret Kenny at 434-292-5331 or
  • July 30. Kentucky Corn-Soybean-Tobacco Field Day, UK Research & Education Center, Princeton Ky. Contact: Andy Bailey at 270-365-7541

  • June 25, 7 p.m., Research & Education Center, 2255 East Allen's Bridge Rd., Greeneville, Tn. Greene County. Contact 865-310-2754 or

Note on the June I issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. If you haven't signed on to receive it regularly or need to change an address, please click on "Join our mailing list" and follow the prompts. For more information, you can call me at 919-789-4631or email me at Thanks--Chris Bickers



1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse

Greg Goins is the auctioneer at Big M Warehouse.
We hold sealed bid auctions
We promise 
We will be GAP certified 
For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.


209 Harding St., Danville, Ky.

Full-service burley warehouse

Jerry Rankin, Owner

  Call for information.

Tytun rated 1


  1. Around Maysville, KY weather for tobacco has been terrible. Measurable amount of acres have went down the stalk from all of the rain. We personally have 60 acres and finished setting June 17 and have not been able to cultivate 30 acres yet after almost a month. It has been 3 weeks since we were able to even get in the field. Of all of the months of July I have begged for a little rain I never thought it would be like this, I think somewhere around 15" of rain in a month.

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