Monday, June 20, 2016


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Flue-cured plants in south Georgia show effects of tomato spotted wilt virus last week. (Photo courtesy of J. Michael Moore).

Tomato spotted wilt is widespread in Florida and Georgia. "This is probably the highest incidence in the last 10 years," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia-Florida Extension tobacco specialist. "We are seeing 20, 30, even 40 percent of fields with the disease," says Moore. It has appeared in South Carolina too.

Why the spotted wilt outbreak? "The likely reason is the extremely warm winter that we had," says Moore. "It allowed the survival of the weeds that host the disease and the thrips that vector it." Georgia-Florida farmers
generally use Actigard and Admire to reduce TSWV losses. But this season the chemicals seem to have been over-whelmed.

Blue mold has also been problematic. "We have had blue mold in these two states since Easter," says Moore. "It falls in a strip running from Gainesville, Fl., to Metter, Ga. It has only been at a low level on lower leaves and will likely be reduced with warmer and drier weather. But between blue mold and TSWV, the value of the downstalk leaves is likely to be reduced."

Since the demand for downstalk leaf is down anyway, this is the year to leave downstalk leaves in the field, Moore says. "It is likely we will have an inferior quality tobacco at the bottom, and we don't need to spend money on harvesting, curing and baling it." You could remove the bottom leaves with a defoliator, but Moore thinks that is an unnecessary expense too. "Set your harvester at a level that leaves all but the best lugs, and make a good primings grade for your first harvest," he says. "Just leave the bottom leaves in the field."

Flyings versus lugs: In contrast, the leaves from the bottom of the burley stalk--called flyings--are in short supply on the current market. The main reason: Under present practices, it is hard to produce a true flying. "There may be only one or two flyings on the stalk," says Don Fowlkes, agronomist for the Burley Stabilization Corporation in Springfield, Tn. "So farmers usually end up with a bottom grade that is a mixture of flyings and cutters. We are encouraging growers to separate true flyings from cutters if they can."

Crop report: In Florida, harvest of flue-cured has begun, and it should start in Georgia very soon, says Moore. In South Carolina, 13 percent of the flue-cured had been topped by June 19. In Virginia, 91 percent of the flue-cured, 88 percent of the burley and 85 percent of fire-cured had been transplanted by June 19, according to USDA. The burley crop in Tennessee was late getting in the ground, with perhaps 20 percent still to be planted as of June 17, says Fowlkes. In North Carolina, 75 percent of the burley was transplanted, and in Kentucky, 83 percent of all types have been transplanted, both estimates through June 19, again according to USDA.

  • June 23, Tobacco Field Day. Highland Rim AgResearch & Education Center, Springfield, Tn.  8 a.m. to 1:30 P.M. (CDT). Contact 615-382-3130. 
  • July 25-27. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Details to follow.
  • August 2. 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

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.
We hold sealed bid auctions
We promise 
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For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.


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

Full-service burley warehouse

Jerry Rankin, Owner

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