Blue mold lesions grow on flue-cured leaves in this file photo of a field in southeastern N.C.
The fungal diseasewas spotted on flue-cured in Caswell County, N.C., on June 17. Extension agent Joey Knight reports that the farmer treated quickly and thoroughly with Quadris and the blue mold was kept under control. "We'd been having 50-degree nights, heavy dews, and there was a 3.5 inch rain the night before," Knight says. "The conditions were right for blue mold. "But he had just topped, and after he sprayed. a hot spell set in, and there was very little spread. A few neighboring fields got a little of the disease, but all affected farmers sprayed. By the Fourth of July weekend, there appeared to be no more active blue mold in the area, which is south of Danville, Va. There have been no other reports of blue mold in N.C,, but it continues on flue-cured in Florida and Georgia.
Scout tobacco fields for blue moldin the coming days, particularly since many areas of Kentucky have had rainy weather recently,Emily Pfeufer, Ky. Extension plant
pathologist. Focus on areas where the pathogen is likely to encounter conditions that are conducive to the disease: Low spots, areas with partial shade, lower leaves and locations where water tends to drain slowly. "Look for yellow to orange spots on tops of lower leaves, then turn leaves over to check for blue-gray, some-what fuzzy sporula-tion," saysPfeufer. "Sporulation is more abundant under humid conditions, so scouting is most effective when done in early morning or late afternoon." The more recently set plantings will be more susceptible to infection. "However, all tobacco may be considered at-risk, especially crops located east of I-75."
Limited resistance: A few modern burley varieties have partial resistance to blue mold. "But none have what we would consider high resistance," says Pfeurer. "[And]
there is no resistance at all in dark tobacco."
Budworms versus ear-worms: Entomologists in N.C. have started seeing budworms in tobacco that was planted on time, says Hannah Burrack, N.C. Extension entomologist. "But there is less pressure on the tobacco that was planted later"...There were unusual early populations of corn earworm relative to budworms in some parts of the state, says Burrack. "It is interesting to us, but we manage both insects the same way."
New N.C. plant patholo-gist for tobacco: Lindsey Thiessen has been named the new N.C. Extension plant pathologist covering tobacco, replacing Mina Mila, who is now concentrating on research and teaching. In addition to tobacco, Thiessen will cover plant pathology on cotton, soybeans and other field crops. She will have some research responsibilities. A native of Texas, she recently obtained her doctorate at Oregon State University. She will work out of the main N.C. State campus in Raleigh.
USDA PLANTINGS ESTIMATES
Flue-cured plantings achieve earlier estimate, but burley didn't--USDA said in its June 30 acreage report that flue-cured growers planted 209,000 acres, down 11,000 acres from last season and about what was predicted in USDA's Prospective Plantings Report in March. But burley growers planted only 75,900 acres, down 3,000 acres from 2015, rather than the small increase USDA had projected in March. Following are the state-by-state projections for the various types compared to last year.
FLUE-CURED:North Carolina, 160,000 acres, down 12,000 acres. Virginia, 21,000 acres, down 500 acres. South Carolina, 14,500 acres, up 1,500 acres. Georgia, 13,500 acres, no change.
BURLEY: Kentucky, 57,000 acres, down 1,000 acres. Tennessee, 12,000 acres, no change. Pennsylvania, 4,800 acres, up 100 acres. Virginia, 1,200 acres, down 100 acres. North Carolina, 900 acres, down 100 acres.
FIRE-CURED: All states--17,150 acres, down 700 acres. By state--Kentucky, 9,500 acres, down 400 acres. Tennessee, 7,400 acres, down 300 acres. Virginia, 250 acres, no change.
DARK AIR-CURED: All states--5,900 acres, down 300 acres. By state--Kentucky, 4,700 acres, down 300 acres. Tennessee, 1,200 acres, no change.
PENNSYLVANIA SEEDLEAF: Pennsylvania, 1,600 acres, no change.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND: Pennsylvania, 1,600 acres, no change. What's the greatest threat to sustainability of tobacco growers? Oversupply, says Stuart Thompson, chief executive officer of U.S. Tobacco Cooperative. "It is critical for our growers that supply be balanced with demand," he says. "And it is critical for our customers to have a secure, stable and sustainable source of the finest flue-cured tobacco." What can be done? Thompson says auction markets and the misuse of crop insurance perpetuate untraceable, unaudited sourcing and overproduction.
DATES TO REMEMBER
July 25-27. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Tentatively starting 4 p.m. Jly 25 near Bentonville, N.C., continuing with tours starting in Kinston on July 26 and in Rocky Mount on July 27 and ending in Oxford. To register, go to the NCSU Tobacco Growers Information website at https://tobacco.ces.ncsu.edu.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 8-9. Burley Tobacco Industry Tour, Lexington, Ky. Details to be announced.
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.