WILL THE QUALITY OF THIS BURLEY CROP BE BETTER THAN EXPECTED?
Beginning to look up: a A ground level shot looking up at burley
curing in a barn near Wilson, N.C. The yield of this year's crop is
down, but the quality looks good.
The last of Kentucky's burley has been in the barn for several weeks, and from 10 percent to perhaps 15 percent has been stripped, estimates Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "The quality is better than what we expected," he says. There had been a dry spell late in the summer (see Tobacco Farmer Newsletter, October I 2015). "But since then, there has been pretty good moisture, which may have helped darken the leaf," he says. "Now, temperatures are a little above average: We are looking at early November temperatures in the mid Seventies (in Lexington). That should help improve the quality of the later harvested tobacco." But nothing is going to help the weight of this crop, which appears to be low due to the wet weather experienced early in the growing season, Pearce adds. "We could be looking at an average yield that is off 20 percent from recent years."
The quality was good for dark fire-cured in western Kentucky and Tennessee, but burley and dark air-cured suffered through a dry curing season, says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist. Prices are good. "Unless there is some major problem, our leaf is bringing $2.70 per pound for fire-cured, $2.40 for dark air-cured."
The marketing season for Virginia fire-cured began on October 30. "That was a little early," says Bruce Jones, the Extension agent for tobacco in Appomattox County. "Farmers I have talked to were pleased with the prices they received, which fell mostly in the top end of the price structure." They were glad with the early opening too--humidity the last few weeks posed a problem in keeping their tobacco, which they place in a cardboard box after stripping. But this season, some stripped it, packed it again and didn't "box" it until close to marketing. The Appomattox fire-cured was sold at a delivery station in Oxford, N.C.
Burley is grown in Appomattox County too, frequently in tandem with dark. "Our burley has all been harvested, but most is still hanging in the barns," says Jones. "If farmers have dark tobacco, they will work it first before they start on the burley." This was not by any means a bumper burley crop. "But from what I have seen, the quality looks really good." There are also two organic flue-cured growers in the county. "Both seem well pleased with their crop," Jones says.
It was a tough year for black shank in many parts of the flue-cured belt, so bad that rotation seemed to lose much of its effectiveness in limiting the disease. "Any tobacco field that was in less than a four-year rotation was vulnerable," says Alton Roberson of Kinston, N.C. He used chloropicrin and two applications of Ridomil. "But they were not much help either," he says. Next year he will lengthen rotations where he can, and he also may change his soil treatment, perhaps using Presidio.
If conditions are bad enough, nothing will prevent black shank, says N.C. Extension plant pathologist Mina Mila. "But rotation will still be the best tool over time." As Roberson found out, "The longer the rotation the better," she says. Presidio has shown some promise in the field in its first year on tobacco in the field, and a new fungicide, Orondis from Syngenta, may be labeled for tobacco for next season.
Orondis has received EPA approval and is expected to be available for 2016. Its active ingredient is oxathiapiprolin, and it provides a new mode of action for control of black shank and blue mold. Initially, Syngenta will market Orondis for use on tobacco as multi-packs containing either:
Orondis and Ridomil Gold fungicide for control of black shank or
Orondis and Revus fungicide for control of blue mold.
When approved by the EPA and individual states, these products will be sold as premixes under the brand names Orondis Gold and Orondis Ultra.
DATES TO REMEMBER --December 3. N.C. Tobacco Day 2015. Johnston County Extension Center, 2736 N.C. Hwy. 210, Smithfield, N.C. Starting time to be announced but the meeting will end with a sponsored lunch.
FARMERS TOBACCO WAREHOUSE
209 Harding St., Danville, Ky.
Full-service burley warehouse
Jerry Rankin, Owner
Call for information.
BIG M TOBACCO WAREHOUSE
1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C.,
in the old Liberty Warehouse
Mann Mullen is the owner of Big M auction warehouse in Wilson, N.C.