Monday, August 3, 2015

AN EARLY AUGUST CROP REPORT




Harvester in action
An Old Belt flue-cured grower harvests his leaf near Forbush, N.C.
 DROUGHT, HEAT PLAGUE FLUE-CURED
WHILE RAIN SUBSIDES FOR BURLEY 
FLUE-CURED

North Carolina--Harvest is well under way in the flue-cured areas. "We appear to be right on time," says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "The Piedmont was a bit early getting plants to the field." Quality reportedly ranges from moderate to exceptional coming out of the barn. "There are still fields that remain untouched all over the state, but for the most part, all ripe leaf has been pulled," he says. "Dry weather continues to plague the vast majority of flue-cured growers, but showers over the past few weeks have made a decent crop in places. A little more rain would finish everything very nicely."

Georgia--Farmers have a reasonably good crop, perhaps a bit on the thin side. "We had some extensive heat in the last month that damaged the top the plant, but everyone is pretty upbeat now," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. There has been greater than average incidence of tomato spotted wilt virus and some serious problems with black shank. But he expects a normal yield of around 2,200 pounds per acre across the state, on about 12,500 planted acres. Harvest is well under way. 

Florida--Harvest is proceeding here too. Farmers have a very good crop. There has been adequate rainfall, and Moore expects a yield in the range of 2,600 pounds, on about 1,250 planted acres. 

Georgia--Farmers have a reasonably good crop, perhaps a bit on the thin side. "We had some extensive heat in the last month that damaged the top the plant, but everyone is pretty upbeat now," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. There has been greater than average incidence of tomato spotted wilt virus and some serious problems with black shank. But he expects a normal yield of around 2,200 pounds per acre across the state, on about 12,500 planted acres. Harvest is well under way. 

Florida--Harvest is proceeding here too. Farmers have a very good crop. There has been adequate rainfall, and Moore expects a yield in the range of 2,600 pounds, on about 1,250 planted acres. Virginia--There has been no significant rain in two weeks, but the crop looks better than average, says Chris Brown, Extension tobacco agent in Halifax County. "We had enough rainfall to get it in top, and we can use irrigation if needed." Primings have been pulled on some farms, he says, and everyone else will begin soon. Yield is likely average to better-than-average this year. He adds that the small dark fire-cured crop in Halifax County is faring very well...USDA reported that through August 2, 12 percent of the flue-cured crop had been harvested statewide.

BURLEY
Kentucky--The rain has abated somewhat in the last two weeks, and the crop is no worse than it was--but probably not much better. It is growing reasonably well, though there are problems of poor root systems. "Harvest has been a bit delayed because the development of the crop has been delayed," says Pearce. Some cutting may have taken place already but it may be another week or so until harvest is going on in earnest. Good news: There still have been no confirmed cases of blue mold in Kentucky, Pearce says...Be careful what you wish for: A reader from Maysville, Ky., wrote after Tobacco Farmer Newsletter's last issue, "Weather for tobacco has been terrible. [We had] somewhere around 15 inches of rain in a month. A measurable amount of acres has gone down from all of the rain." The farmer remembered that in many July's in past, he has wished for a little rain. "But I never thought it would be like this." 

Ohio--There was way too much water in June and July and it fell on way too many days, says David Dugan, Ohio Extension educator. "Some places had as much as 28 inches of rain," said Dugan. "That was during a 40-day stretch when rain fell on 30 of them. A wet crop is not going to weigh good, so I would say we have lost 50 to 60 percent of our potential production in the state." That includes some abandonments. "The yield is going to be so poor in some fields that the grower won't be able to justify the labor to house it," says Dugan. Some of the crop was so far along that supplemental nitrogen would not help, he adds.

Tennessee--Topping is under way on burley, and harvest may begin in about two weeks. "If you are applying Quadris, resist the temptation to tank mix it with MH," says Eric Walker, Tn. Extension tobacco specialist. "It can result in leaf injury." The crop has experienced a lot of loss due to all the rainfall, particularly in middle Tennessee. Walker isn't ready to estimate the reduction in pounds, but he thinks it may be enough to offset to some degree the uncontracted acres that some Tennessee farmers planted back in the spring.

North Carolina--The burley crop in the western part of the state appears to be as good as any ever produced, says Vann. "Systemic suckercide applications are being made in the upper mountain region near Laurel Springs and should soon begin in the southern region near Asheville," he says. "Barring poor weather in the next 30 to 45 days, this crop will be finished fairly soon. Again, assuming good curing conditions, leaf quality should be exceptional."

In other tobacco news:

Blue mold has been found in just a few places in Tennessee since the original incidences at the research station in Greeneville. The later reports have all been in the northeast part of the state (as is Greeneville), and in some cases were reported after the fact. Walker thinks there may still be some blue mold out there that hasn't been reported and urges farmers to report it if they think they have it. "Blue mold is largely spread by weather conditions, and good producers get blue mold in their tobacco from time to time," he says. "By reporting it, you will be helping others look for and prevent or manage the disease." This just in: Some blue mold has been discovered in Madison County, N.C., which is just south of Greene County, Tn.

Keep an eye open for target spot. Don't let your guard down as the threat of blue mold fades, Walker says. "There could be a lot of target spot after topping," he says. 


BOOK EXCERPT
WHEN MOUNTAIN FARMERS GREW 
FLUE-CURED INSTEAD OF BURLEY

A History of Burley Tobacco
If you would like a copy, send a check for $25 to Chris Bickers, 903-9 Shell Brook Court, Raleigh, N.C. 27609. 
For more information, contact Chris at chrisbickers@gmail.com or 
Few remember now that flue-cured was planted--and was a viable crop--in the southern Appalachians before burley. It had been introduced at least by 1868 and possibly earlier. Ten years later, when the market for bright tobacco was booming and manufacturers were looking for anywhere to grow more of it, the type had become a significant part of the agricultural economy. Buncombe County, North Carolina; the county just north of it, Madison County, North Carolina; and the county just north of Madison, Greene County, Tennessee, all played particularly strong roles. Asheville and Greeneville developed markets that were at one time quite vigorous. It was grown extensively in Virginia, as well. Flue-curing technology and bright tobacco varieties were adopted in the mountains nearly simultaneously with their diffusion in the Piedmont of Virginia and North Carolina and the coastal plain of the Carolinas and Georgia, says Katie Algeo, geographer at Western Kentucky University. "This adoption...by large numbers of farmers in the 1870s and 1880s [in areas where burley is now grown] was a response to increased market access and the diffusion of innovations in tobacco culture." Peak production ran roughly from 1878 to 1890, but even then it was subject to highs and lows. For instance, in Madison County--nestled right on the border with Tennessee in the high mountains of the Blue Ridge--farmers took to flue-cured with abandon. They produced 807,000 pounds in 1879 at the beginning of the boom and then 2.2 million pounds ten years later. But starting in 1890, the bubble seemed to have burst, and by 1899 Madison Countians produced only 603,000 pounds. What happened? These were the years of the Tobacco Trust, and trust buyers may simply have lost interest in mountain flue-cured. But historian Nannie May Tilley thinks competition from better-suited production areas might be the real reason. "Increase in cigarette consumption [at that time] doubtless contributed to abandonment of Bright Tobacco in the mountain area, since a more suitable type [for cigarettes] could be produced in greater quantity in the coastal plain," says Tilley. Leaf dealer William E. Dibrell described the mountain production as "showy, leafy, silky and free of the disease but also rather 'greenish' always, with a decidedly unripe and ever rank flavor.'" In the final analysis,  soil and climate made it impossible to produce in the mountains the mild type of bright leaf the market demanded. A few holdouts continued flue-cured production on and off, but it seems to have disappeared by 1920. But the effort lived on in another sense: farmers and farms that had been involved in flue-cured production tended to be the ones to adopt burley production later. Note how Greene and Madison counties became the leading burley counties in their respective states.
--From The History of Burley Tobacco in East Tennessee & Western North Carolina. 


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5 comments:

  1. Good to see a good crop. Looks very good in the field in person county

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