Sunday, October 8, 2017


Upper Mtn. Research Station, Laurel Springs NC Recently cut burley wilting
What hurricane? This burley at the Upper Mountain Research Station at Laurel Springs in northwest N.C. was cut and wilting in the field on September 19. (Photo by Stan Biconish.)



NC: Hurricane Irma did little damage to North Carolina burley or flue-cured, even though there was more tobacco still in the field in early September than is normal, said Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "The rains we received were light compared to Georgia and Florida," he said. "We dodged a bullet"...Holdability was an issue in flue-cured resulting from those rains that did fall, along with many days of 90-degree high temperatures. "We have some tobacco struggling to 'hold' in the field," says Vann. "As a result, it is too early to make a prediction of volume. But if anything, it might be a little below average." Note: An early frost could be a disaster for N.C. flue-cured growers this year. "But if it comes around the normal date, I think farmers will be able to get their crop in," Vann said.
VA: Much of the flue-cured crop was still in the field when Irma passed through, but the state was spared the heaviest rains. Now, rain would be welcome. "It's dry--we could use some rain," says Extension agent Lindy Tucker In Lunenburg County in the Piedmont. "[But] tobacco is coming along." USDA estimates that 92 percent of the state's flue-cured tobacco had been harvested by October 1.
GA, FL and SC: Harvest is complete. For more on Irma in Georgia, see below.

KY: There had been an extended late season heat wave but it finally ended on September 27 with the passage of a strong cold front through the area, USDA said. USDA reported that 88 percent of the crop had been harvested and 12 percent had been stripped. Some houseburn was reported.
TN: Temperatures had also been unseasonably warm in much of Tennessee but cooled considerably the last few days of September. No precipitation for over two weeks had resulted in extremely dry conditions. "Very dry weather," reports Extension agent Chris Ramsey in Sullivan County, Tn. USDA estimated 85 percent had been harvested.

NC: Hurricane Irma was not a factor at the Upper Mountain Research Station. Superintendent Tracy Taylor says, "We had some rain--maybe two inches--and there were strong winds, but the tobacco got through it just fine." All the station burley is now hung in barns and appears to have potential for good quality. "And I think the yield will be fine," he says. "We were late getting planted, but the crop caught up and turned out well." He expects it will be graded around Christmas. In Yancey County, Extension agent Stanley Holloway says, "Burley producers are concerned with the less-than-ideal curing conditions resulting in a lot of variegated cured leaf color." USDA estimated 61 percent of the state burley crop was harvested by October 1.
VA: Cutting and barning was proceeding in southwest Virginia. "Harvest progress slowed a bit due to rain from Hurricane Irma," says Kevin Spurlin, agriculture agent in Grayson County. "But effects from the storm itself were minimal."
In other tobacco news...

No dicamba disaster in 2017: There were only eight complaints of dicamba drift damage on tobacco in North Carolina this year, Professor Alan York of North Carolina State University was reported as saying at the Blackland Cotton Field Day in Belhaven, N.C., last month. York suggested that a mandatory buffer might be appropriate around tobacco plantings and said he would support tighter record keeping, including time of day of spraying, wind speed and direction, along with estimated distance to tobacco.  "That will not keep someone from spraying beside a tobacco field if they want to, but perhaps it would make them think twice," he said in Southeast Farm Press
Assessing the hurricane damage: Still no hard numbers of dollar loss by tobacco growers to Hurricane Irma, but Georgia was by far the hardest hit. Georgia Extension tobacco specialist J. Michael Moore provided this report on the effects in his state. "We estimate that we lost 15 percent of the crop in Georgia to the storm in the form of leaves dropped in the field. There will probably be additional losses in the form of lowered quality in the leaves that survived and those in curing barns where power was interrupted.
Irma passed through Georgia on Monday September 11. Many areas reported six to 10 inches of rainfall with wind speeds of 50 to 70 mph. As much as 30 percent of the crop remained in the fields at that time. Harvesting continued until Saturday night. Sunday was breezy, with rain starting late in the afternoon in Tifton. "Generally, from 50 percent to 60 percent of the leaves still on the stalks were blown off, and others were bruised and torn as they whipped in the wind." Some leaf had to be abandoned because it deteriorated rapidly after the rains of Irma. Harvesting was finished by September 27.
It could have been worse: The losses would have been higher except that many farmers had purchased or rented generators to keep their curing barns going. Without these, the barns would have shut off when the electricity went out and the leaf could have suffered damage before it went back on.
Planting restraint urged in Brazil: The tobacco growers association of Brazil urged growers this spring to reduce plantings for the 2017/18 crop if they can. if not, they should plant no more than in the year just ended. Benicio Werner, president of the national organization, AFUBRA, said there is a worldwide decrease in consumption. "We cannot let farmers produce a quantity of tobacco that the market does not absorb," he said in an interview with Radio Gazeta. His recommendation--588.5 thousand tons of all types, including 520 thousand tons of flue-cured, 60 thousand tons of burley and 8.5 thousand tons of common "shed." The volume of the 2016/17 crop has been estimated at 695 thousand tons.
Grower numbers in Zimbabwe nearly triple: The number of growers who have registered to grow tobacco in 2017/18 has risen to 21.331 from 7,131 in 2016/2017, a 199 percent increase, according to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.Farmers in Zimbabwe seem to have been satisfied with the average price of $2.97 per kilo that tobacco sold for this season and the 185.6 kgs that they produced and sold.
The demand for Malawian burley in the coming season is 130,000 tons, said the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) of Malawi in September. For flue-cured, it is 25,000 tons and for dark fire-cured it is 5,000 tons, for a total of 160,000 tons. That would be up from 152,000 tons in the season just ended but still less than the year before. TCC also said that Malawi sold 106,000 tons of tobacco out of the 152,000 produced this year, and it was worth US$212 million. The size of the crop is controlled through a system of registration of farmer intentions and issuance of production quotas.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017


A migrant harvest crew from Latin America hand picks flue-cured leaf on a farm near Raleigh, N.C., in this file photo by Chris Bickers. 

An early frost in Kentucky could find much of the burley crop unharvested, says. grower-warehouseman Jerry Rankin of Danville, Ky. He has looked around at the progress of harvest and added up the number of workers available to finish the job--and he is concerned. "It's not so much that the crop is late, although some of it is. It is that we are behind in getting it cut and to the barn. Labor is too short to make up that difference before October 2, when we expect to get our first frost."

The labor crunch is also being felt in Tennessee and southwest Virginia, says Don Fowlkes, manager, agronomy, Burley Stabilization Corporation (BSC). "I think we will get this crop harvested and barned. But it would help if H2A arrivals were more dependable. There is little local labor and the productivity is reduced."

It seems likely that at least some of this Tennessee burley crop is not going to stay in the field long enough to achieve maximum yield. "Our farmers are not going to be able to wait," says Fowlkes. "It is a late crop, and they will have to harvest it a little early to get it all in before first frost." Normally, you like to leave tobacco in the field four to five weeks after topping. "But they might (but hopefully won't) have to cut some of this crop in three weeks or less," he says. Be prepared to close up your barn if it needs it, Fowlkes says. "With late hung tobacco, there is more risk of freeze damage," says Fowlkes. "And there is more risk of green color from cold winds. You want to be able to close the barn."

Burley prospects better: While the long-term outlook remains uncertain, the burley market is definitely in a more balanced position than it was at this time last year, says Daniel Green, chief operating officer, BSC. "The 2017 USA burley crop will likely end up in the range of 150-160 million pounds or just over 13.5 percent of total world production. It appears that world production of burley should total just over 1.1 billion pounds for 2017, more than 15 percent less than 2016." Based on current cigarette production, approximately 1.2 billion pounds of burley are currently needed worldwide to satisfy demand, resulting in a slight, short-term shortage. "African volumes will rebound quickly and any shortage that results in increased sales of flavor burley should be satisfied by the end of 2018."

Blown away? When the rain and wind of Hurricane Irma reached south Georgia on Sunday, perhaps 30 percent of the crop was still in the field, says J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist. By the time it passed through, maybe half had been blown down or had its leaves blown off or otherwise been rendered unsalvageable. And Moore wasn't too optimistic about what survived. "The leaves were beaten by the strong winds and that may cause them to mature so rapidly that farmers won't be able to pick them before they deteriorate. So it could be that very little of the remaining Georgia crop will make it to the buyer.

Florida was luckier. All of its tobacco was out of the field when the storm arrived, although some was still in the barn, says Moore.

Power outages as a result of the hurricane were the stuff of worldwide news reports. Loss of quality in barns that lost power were a serious threat to the tobacco in them, but many Georgia growers forestalled that problem by obtaining emergency generators of one type or another before the power went out, says Moore.

Diseases in the East: In eastern North Carolina, much of the upperstalk tobacco in the field is getting hammered by black rot, says Roy Thagard, Greene County Extension agent. Other diseases such as black shank and Granville wilt also continue to progress. "There is a fear that tobacco farmers will get poor grades for their tobacco going forward," Thagard says...In the Pied-mont, growers are harvesting tobacco as quick as barn space will allow, says Charles Mitchell, Franklin County, N.C., Extension agent. "We have seen an enormous amount of Granville wilt this year with some black shank as well." But there was one bit of good fortune: "We dodged a bullet when Hurricane Irma shifted westward," Mitchell says...In the mountains of western N.C., harvest of burley is nearly complete in Yancey County, says Stanley Holloway, County Extension agent... The season's first frost--a patchy one in some low-lying areas--took place on September 8 in Watauga County, in the N.C. mountains.

USDA issued its September Crop Report on September 12. But because it is based on a farmer survey conducted between August 25 and September 6, it is already out of 
date because storm activity. For the record, the production estimates for each type (but not the producing states) follow. Each projection is compared to the projection in the August report.  Flue-Cured:  473 million pounds, up four percent from the August Crop Report. Burley: 160.5 million pounds, no changeDark Fire-Cured: 59.6 million pounds, up  seven percent.  Dark Air-Cured: 20.3 million pounds, up 21 per cent.  Southern Maryland: 4.5 million pounds, no change.  Pennsylvania Seed leaf:  4.16 million pounds, no change.

Sunday, September 3, 2017


The effects of flooding on burley, from 2013 storm.


Now is the time to think about--and take action to avoid--possible losses in the
 field and curing barns as a result of the hurricanes and/or storms that are on 
the way, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia-Florida Extension specialist. "We have growers
expecting to be harvesting for four to five weeks," he says. "Even without a direct
hit, outer bands from a hit north of us could result in massive losses of the best
tobacco in the state."

While the natural tendency is to harvest as much as possible before any storm, you
may want to think ahead and not harvest any more than you can cure before damaging
winds arrive, Moore says. "Additionally, those same winds could result in downed
 power lines and interruption of power to curing barns filled with tobacco that 
cannot stand long periods of time without circulating air, heated or not."

If you have generators in place, it is possible to cycle on and off a single barn
before moving to the next barn, and maybe the next, before returning to the first
one allowing for enough air to complete the cure or keep the tobacco from being 
totally lost before power is restored.

Energy isn't the issue with air-cured barns. But Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension 
tobacco specialist, suggested it might be a good idea to close up your burley barns
if you are expecting very high winds along with rain, in order to keep the water
 out. "You would want to get right back out and open it up again once the weather
has passed," he says. "You want to get the air moving again."

Dark tobacco harvest began over three weeks ago in the Black Patch, but most remains
in the field, says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist. This is beginning
to look like a very big crop for both dark types, Bailey says, with the USDA estimates
of 55 million pounds for fire-cured and 16 million for air-cured both seeming credible.
"This crop is definitely better than last year and I would say probably better than
the year before." The increase is a result both of better yields and of greatly 
increased plantings in response to buyer demand after the very short 2016 dark crop.
Reduced tillage of one sort or another is definitely catching on in the Black Patch.
Bailey estimates that close to 40 percent of the acreage is now planted strip till.
That would amount to about 9,000 acres. And no-till planting is also catching on,
with probably 500 acres planted this way. "Most of this is in western Kentucky, 
with lesser amounts in northwest Tennessee. There is a savings on land preparation,
and at harvest time, you are likely to have less dirt in the leaf because of the

The Tennessee burley crop has a lot of potential, says Eric Walker, Extension tobacco
specialist. In middle and northern Tennessee, harvesting is well under way but still
has a way to go. The eastern counties of Tennessee are not as far along in harvest,
but as of the last day of August, burley there still looked good. "But we got a 
lot of rain last night which resulted in some flooding," he adds...Through August
28, USDA estimated that 29 percent of Tennessee tobacco had been harvested.
The flue-cured tobacco that has been harvested so far in North Carolina seems to
has cured pretty well, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "You
would have to say the quality is good considering the stresses it went through,"
he says. Up till now, the leaf has been holding in the field. But that may be changing.
"A lot of leaf is ripening very fast on the stalk," says Vann. "Farmers want to 
get the leaf out of the field and into the barn as fast as they can." Try to avoid
any stress that will hasten ripening, he adds. "You sure don't want to agitate this
crop."...Through August 28, USDA estimated that 47 percent of the N.C. flue-cured
crop and 12 percent of the N.C. burley crop had been harvested.

With good weather, harvest of the South Carolina flue-cured crop may be complete
in two weeks, says William Hardee, S.C. area Extension agronomy agent for the Pee
Dee. Right now, his rough estimate is that 75-80 percent has been harvested... This
season will be remembered for tomato spotted wilt that started early and kept coming
well into the season. Horry and Marion counties averaged 40-50 percent spotted wilt
infestation with some individual fields reaching up to 70 percent. "However, most
of our growers have managed it well by sending folks ahead of the harvester to clean
out the trash tobacco in the field, and having their barn help pick it out as well,"
says Hardee.

With all the skips in the rows, you also worry about the tobacco that's left having
too much fertilizer and staying or curing green. "Fortunately, we have had consistent
rainfall in most of this area, which has really helped us manage fertility and
curability of this crop," says Hardee. "Even though we have lost some yield, the
overall quality and weight of the tobacco has been very good so far."

Farmers are now getting some soilborne disease infestations, mostly bacterial wilt,
says Hardee. "But with it coming a little later in the season, most growers have
been able to stay ahead of it. I hope that will continue to be the case, but with
all the rain we've had the last few weeks and the possibility of a hurricane, who

Fusarium shows up in Virginia: The fungal disease Fusarium wilt was identified on
burley earlier in the summer. It was found in Scott County in the southwestern corner
of Virginia. County Extension agent Scott Jerrell says, "This is highly unusual 
for burley in this area."

Early harvest in Virginia: Several flue-cured farmers in the southwestern Virginia
county of Brunswick have finished pulling tobacco in some fields and have begun 
to prepare the land for fall/winter cover crops, according to county Extension agent
Cynthia Gregg. USDA estimates 46 percent of the flue-cured had been harvested by
the end of August, a little early for this state.

Farm Family Life Museum


Monday, August 21, 2017


 This harvest crew on a Southside Virginia farm bales flue-cured leaf.

USDA has projected 14 percent more burley production and five per cent more flue-cured production in 2017 compared to last year based on its July grower survey. Even more impressive, the dark air-cured and fire-cured crops are projected to rise a whopping 59 and 40 percent over the weather-damaged 2016 crops for these types. Small increases were projected for the minor types Southern Maryland and Pennsylvania seedleaf. Following are the projected volumes by state and type including the percentage change since 2016.

  • North Carolina--352 million pounds, up six per cent. 
  • Virginia--47.25 million pounds, down two percent. 
  • Georgia--28.75 million pounds, up one percent. 
  • South Carolina-- 26.4, up six percent. 
  • All flue-cured--454.4 million pounds, up five percent from the 2016 crop.

  • Kentucky--120 million pounds, up 12 percent. 
  • Tennessee--23 million pounds, up 46 percent. 
  • Pennsylvania--11.7 million pounds, down six percent. 
  • Virginia--2.3 million pounds, down eight percent. 
  • North Carolina--1.89 million pounds, up five percent.
  • All burley--160 million pounds, up 14 percent.

  • Kentucky--32 million pounds, up 46 percent. 
  • Tennessee--22 million pounds, up 32 percent. 
  • Virginia--840,000 pounds, up 61 percent. 
  • All fire-cured--55.34 million pounds, up 40 percent.  

  • Kentucky--13.5 million pounds, up 75 percent. 
  • Tennessee--3.25 million pounds, up 38 percent. 
  • All dark air-cured --16.75 million pounds, up 59 percent.

  • Pennsylvania--4.5 million pounds, up eight percent.                    

  • Pennsylvania--4 million pounds, up four percent.

Auctions begin: Big M Tobacco Warehouse and Horizon Ltd. Warehouse, both in Wilson, N.C., and both selling by sealed bids, kicked off flue-cured auctions for the year with sales on August 16. Kenneth Kelly, owner of Horizon Ltd., said that theofferings at his house, all downstalk, were limited. But it appeared to him that as of now, very good quality is coming out of the east, and the weight is average to slightly above average. "It is certainly sellable," he says. "Prices might be a little better than last year, but we will need to sell more to be sure of that." The buyers were a similar group of dealers and small manufacturers as in years past, he adds. Old Belt Tobacco Sales, in Rural Hall, N.C., which conducts live auctions, will hold its first sale on August 22.

For more information, call Horizon at 252 292 8822; or Big M at 919 496 9033 (or at the switchboard at 252 206 1447), or Old Belt at 336 416 6262 (or at the switchboard at 336 969 6891. EDITOR'S NOTE: Any other flue-cured auctions are invited to email their operating information to chris for inclusion here. And watch for a list of burley auction warehouses in the near future.

Be sure to inspect burley barns well before housing, says Don Fowlkes, manager of agronomy for Burley Stabilization Corporation. "Tier poles should be structurally sound and safe," he says. "Make sure the ventilation doors work properly. Consider making ventilation doors or barns which don't have them, especially if the barn is located in a low area that doesn't get much air flow. And be sure that the roof doesn't leak."

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Looking to the sky: Farmer Brandon Batten demonstrated how he uses a
drone on his tobacco near Four Oaks, N.C., as part of the N.C. Tobacco Tour
on July 24. There is definitely a future for drones in tobacco production. says
N.C. Extension tobacco specialist Matthew Vann. "The first use might be as a harvesting
aid, to take some guess work out of deciding when to harvest," he says.

BURLEY--The Bluegrass of Kentucky and nearby areas began to get some moisture in
early August after a dry spell, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist.
"We still need more, but if we can get some timely rain, we should have good potential
for reasonably good yield for this crop." Farmers are well into topping, with some
at the beginning stages of cutting, he says. According to USDA, 48 percent of the
Kentucky tobacco (all types) and 69 percent of Tennessee tobacco (all types) had
 been topped by August 6.

DARK--The dark tobacco crop of Kentucky and Tennessee is one of the better in the
last 10 years, says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist. "It looks good
overall, much better now than a few weeks ago. A little of it is on the dry side
 where it hasn't gotten much rain in the last three weeks. A few are irrigating."
There was some fear about angular leaf spot on the dark types, but it hasn't been
too bad. "But you have to be on the watch for it because at this point there is 
only one treatment--streptomycin," says Bailey.

FLUE-CURED-- By the end of the first week of August, N. C. flue-cured growers had
been harvesting for four to five weeks, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco
specialist. "We will be going hot and heavy from here on," he says. Initial curings
have been good. "We have produced some pretty good lower stalk tobacco so far. I
 commend growers for that, particularly as we consider what this crop has been through."
The tomato spotted wilt crisis is over, says Vann, and statewide it wasn't the disaster
it appeared to be. "It's a little early to predict how much we lost to it, but I
 wouldn't be surprised if it pushes five to 10 percent for the state, especially
 since some of the larger acreage counties were the hardest hit. There were a few
areas where losses exceeded double digits."

The blue mold scare in North Carolina this summer turned out just to be a scare.
 "We had only two farms where it was a problem, one in Caswell County and one in
 Madison County." Damage was minimal, he adds.

Georgia farmers are well into their second harvest. "Farmers will try to fulfill
their crop throw for cutters," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco
specialist. "Once they have finished with that, we will see more last-over harvesting."

There has been an unusual disease problem in the Deep South, says Moore: frogeye
leafspot. "It can be very damaging if it causes several holes on a leaf. These yellow 
spots can run together and cover much of the leaf. This may lead to low quality
 tobacco coming out of the barn." Fortunately, Quadris can be used against it and
is well worth the cost. But when you see frogeye you need to jump on it, he says.
An accelerated harvest schedule--within reason--can also help.

Surprisingly, spotted wilt wasn't a big problem in Georgia: Damage was less than
in an average year, even though the mild winter weather had seemed to set the 
stage for a bad season.

Harvest report: According to NASS, 66 percent of the flue-cured in Ga., 40 percent
in S.C., 27 in N.C. and 22 percent in Virginia had been harvested by August 6.

Irrigation going great guns: Many farmers in all states are irrigating. "We are 
starting to get dry in most places, and some (burley) tobacco farmers are starting
to irrigate," says Ronnie Barron, county agent in Cheatham County north of Nashville.
Irrigation is going full swing in some areas of N.C. "Tobacco (flue-cured) is being
irrigated here due to lack of rainfall," says Paul McKenzie, Warren County (N.C.)
Extension agent." Many farmers have made the first pass on harvesting tobacco, he

IN PASSING: George Marks (left), a burley and dark tobacco
grower near Clarksville, Tn., died at the end of July. He was 
for many years the farmer president of the Burley
Stabilization Corporation and lead the cooperative through 
a period of rapid evolution. He will be remembered primarily 
for guiding the cooperative's move from its traditional
home in Knoxville, Tn., to Springfield, Tn., near Nashville. 
The move proved beneficial since it brought the cooperative 
nearer to the majority of its farmer-members after the 
buyout. He will be remembered by the editor of this 
publication for always giving a straight answer to a straight 

Farm Family Life Museum


Sunday, July 23, 2017


The dark types, like 
this Virginia dark 
fire-cured tobacco growing 
at the Blackstone, Va., 
research station a year ago, 
are all enjoying a 
resurgence in 
production. According 
to USDA, dark 
plantings in all 
three states are up 
this summer, with the tiny Virginia crop leading in relative 
increase at plus 35 percent. You can see dark and flue-cured 
research at the Blackstone station field day on July 27.

USDA's first survey of this year's crop showed a small 
decrease in flue-cured plantings, a small increase in 
burley plantings and a substantial increase in dark 
plantings, no doubt to the weather-damaged 2016 
production. Following are USDA's projections for the 
major types broken out by state, with percentage change 
at the end of each line.

  • North Carolina,
    160,000 acres, down three percent.
  • Virginia, 21,000 acres, down four percent.
  • South Carolina, 12,000 acres, down seven percent.
  • Georgia, 12,500 acres, down seven percent.
  • All states, 205,500 acres, down four per-cent,
  • Kentucky, 60,000 acres, down one percent.
  • Tennessee, 14,000 acres, up 16 percent.
  • Pennsylvania, 4,500 acres, down six percent.
  • Virginia, 1,100 acres, down eight percent.
  • North Carolina, 900 acres, down 10 percent.
  • All states, 80,500 acres, up one percent.
  • Kentucky, 10,000 acres, up five percent.
  • Tennessee, 7,500 acres, up seven percent.
  • Virginia, 400 acres, up 35 percent.
  • All states--17,900 acres, up six percent. 
  • Kentucky, 5,800 acres, up four percent.
  • Tennessee, 1,300 acres, up eight percent.
  • All states--6,300 acres, up six percent.

  • Pennsylvania, 1,600 acres, no change.

  • Pennsylvania, 1,800 acres, no change.

July 24-26. N.C. Tobacco Tour.--Monday, 3:30 p.m.: 
Triple B Farms, Bentonville. 5:30 p.m.: Welcome 
reception (5:30 p.m.) and dinner (6 p.m.) at Lane's 
Seafoods, McGee's Crossroads.--Tuesday, July 25: Oxford 
Tobacco Research Station, 7:45 am, Breakfast and Field Tour.
--11 a.m. Lunch, then to Upper Coastal Plain Research 
Station, Rocky Mount.--Wednesday, July 26: 
Lower Coastal Plain Research Station. 7:45 a.m. Breakfast 
and Field Tour. 11 a.m. Lunch and Tour Conclusion. Contact 
and to register:

July 27. VA Annual Tobacco Research Field Day, Southern 
Piedmont Center, Blackstone. Registration begins at 5 p.m., 
dinner at 5:30 p.m., and the Field tour at 6 p.m. Contact 
Margaret Kenny at makenny @vt .edu or 434-292-5331.

August 9, 1 p.m. 
Kentucky Burley Tobacco Industry Tour,
UK Spindletop Farm, 
3250 Iron Works Pike, Lexington,
Ky. To 
conclude around midday on August 10.


Farm Family Life Museum


Bickers Editing Service, 903-9 Shellbrook Ct., Raleigh, NC 27609
Sent by in collaboration with
Constant Contact

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Transplanting appears to be done. One of the last to finish was the Raines burley farm in Seaman, Ohio, near Ripley, which wound up on June 13. Pat Raines, who farms with his sons Todd and Greg, says they finished just one day sooner than in 2016. But it was better because transplanting was more evenly spread out than last year, when late planting caused by rainy weather caused much of the crop to come off at the same time in late season.

For flue-cured, harvest has begun. With ample rain in the last two weeks that put
most of the crop in good condition, all Florida farmers are now harvesting, and 
many in Georgia will start next week, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco

Tomato spotted wilt nearly towed Georgia and Florida away: A quarter of the Type
14 plants show some level of symptoms of spotted wilt, says Moore. "We are 
looking at perhaps a 10 to 15 percent yield loss on some farms," he adds. "This 
was the most damage in years." But it would have been worse if it had come right
 after transplanting. "Instead, we mainly saw it between layby and topping. I frankly
was afraid the damage would be worse based on the mild winter we had."

Blue mold is back. As bad as spotted wilt was, it hasn't been the issue in Georgia
and Florida recently. Instead, blue mold has been found now in 10 Georgia counties.
"Tobacco that is lapping in the middle now encourages the development of blue mold.
Also, temperatures have been five to seven degrees below normal lately, which favors
the blue mold organism." While some of the infection comes from about 10 greenhouses
that were identified as having the disease early in the season, there has apparently
been a spore show since then. "Blue mold has exploded since layby," says Moore. 

(Left) Blue mold spores on downstalk tobacco in south Georgia.

In North Carolina, growers are transitioning to sucker control/first harvest, says
Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. A handful have started harvesting.
"Given what this crop has been through it is not half bad, as long as it escaped
 spotted wilt." Tomato spotted still continues to be a problem. But thrips have 
moved on to other crops, and the wilt seems to have leveled off. "I think we have
seen about all we are going to see of tomato spotted wilt virus"...You would have
expected at least some spotted wilt in the Piedmont, but Vann hasn't had any reports
of it...County report: Tobacco growth is "up and down" in Caswell County because
 of late plantings, said Joey Knight, Caswell County Extension agent. Moisture certainly
hasn't been short, he adds. Over a two-week period in mid June, an excess of 10 
inches of rain fell.
In South Carolina, despite several inches of rainfall that impeded field work in
 other crops, suckering and topping of the crop was at its peak in  the week ending
June 25, said Kyle Daniel, Extension agent in Georgetown County. "Tomato spotted
wilt virus, black shank and fusarium wilt are all plaguing tobacco, but overall,
the leaf crop is good," he adds. According to the USDA, 31 percent of the S.C. 
crop (all flue-cured) had been topped by the 26th.
Another change at the U.S. flue-cured cooperative: Andrew Q. Shepherd of Blackstone,
Va., is the new chairman of the board of U.S. Tobacco Co-operative, succeeding James
Hill of Kinston, N.C., according to the cooperative's website.  Hill continues 
as a member of the board. Earlier, Chief Financial Officer Edward Kacsuta had been
named chief executive officer on an interim basis after Stuart Thompson resigned.
Settlement fraud: An online promotion is giving consumers the erroneous impression
that they can receive money from the tobacco settlement through some sort of bond
purchase, says West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. But the fraudulent
promotion leads only to subscriptions to a monthly report filled with spurious information.
"There is no mechanism for payments to consumers [from the settlement]," said Morrisey.
"Payments are made each year to the states and territories involved in the [original]
lawsuit." Numerous other law enforcement agencies have since agreed with Morrisey's


* July 24-26. N.C. Tobacco Tour.--Monday, 3:30 p.m.: Triple B Farms, Bentonville.
5:30 p.m.: Welcome reception/dinner (tentatively scheduled for Lane's Seafoods,
 McGee's Crossroads).--Tuesday, July 25: Oxford Tobacco Research Station, 7:45
am, Breakfast and Field Tour.--11 a.m. Lunch, then to Upper Coastal Plain Research
Station, Rocky Mount.--Wednesday, July 26: Lower Coastal Plain Research Station.
7:45 a.m. Breakfast and Field Tour. 11 a.m. Lunch and Tour Conclusion. Contact:

* July 27. VA Annual Tobacco Research Field Day, Southern Piedmont Center, Blackstone.
 Registration begins at 5 p.m., dinner at 5:30 p.m., and the Field tour at
 6 p.m. Contact Margaret Kenny at makenny @vt .edu or 434-292-5331.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


A crop spread out in transplanting: A lot of the Bluegrass burley crop was planted late, but not this field. "I am 77 and have been growing tobacco nearly all my life, but I don't ever recall setting out burley in April till this year," says Ben Crain of Versailles, Ky. This field was transplanted April 28 and 29. Since this picture was taken on June 14, Crain says the tobacco has grown a foot and is now waist high.

Kentucky burley stands are good but not excellent, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. At least 90 percent crop had been set as of Friday. Big rains yesterday and today will slow farmers a little. The average height of tobacco in the field was 10 inches, compared to 9 inches last year.

A problem has appeared, the same one that appeared a month ago in flue-cured. "There is more tomato spotted wilt than in recent memory," Pearce says. "It is widespread." There has been enough to reduce yield, but probably not by much, since tobacco can compensate to some degree for lost plants. "At this point, we may be looking at single digit (percentage)." Tennessee has had uncharacteristic TSWV infestations too but as in Kentucky, the yield loss is not too great so far.

Tennessee experienced another later-set crop, but very little remains to be transplanted now, says Eric Walker, Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist. "Most everyone is finishing up," he says. He estimated perhaps five percent of the crop remained to go in as of Friday plus a little replanting. But heavy rains this week will probably keep everyone out of the fields for a few more days. One way or another, although the planting season was just a little longer than in a normal year, a disproportionate number of acres were planted relatively late, so some late harvesting seems likely.

The east Tennessee burley crop is 10 to 14 days behind normal, says Don Fowlkes, manager of agronomy for Burley Stabilization Corporation in Greeneville. "We were farther behind than that but we mostly got caught up the week before last when we got some good weather," he says. He too thinks 95 percent or more of the expected crop in this region has been transplanted. "We are still early in the season but so far it is looking OK." He expects a few less acres planted in Tennessee when all is said and done, but with an average yield--the 2016 yield was below average--production might be the same or greater.

In southwestern Virginia, about three percent of the burley [the type grown here] remained to be set, according to USDA. But some areas were not as far along. "Unusually rainy weather has delayed tobacco setting. Only limited field work was accomplished this week [through June 18] with heavy showers scattered about the county almost every day," said Grayson County Extension agent Kevin Spurlin. "There were reports of up to eight inches this week in portions of the county, and flash flooding was common."

In western N.C., setting was running behind. USDA estimated that 74 percent had been transplanted by June 18. In Yancey County, numerous thunderstorms and rain events that week limited field activities, said Stanley Holloway, Extension agent. "Rainfall amounts were highly variable across the county, with most areas receiving between 1.5 inches to 2.5 inches for the week."

One imponderable in Kentucky and Tennessee: The contract prices for the dark types were good, and there may well have been some substitution of dark tobacco for burley. That confuses any production estimate for these types.

In other tobacco news:

Be extremely pro-active when making your first contact sucker control application if you are growing residue-free flue-cured, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "The conventional rule of thumb is that first application should begin at the 50 percent button stage. But consider starting before 50 percent button is reached, possibly at the 40 percent button stage. Beginning slightly earlier should allow for sufficient control of suckers growing in some of the larger, more advanced plants."

Target spot is showing up all over some counties in eastern N.C. "We are seeing lots of target spot on tobacco," says Norman Harrell, Wilson County Extension Director. "Quadris is labeled for control of target spot in flue-cured tobacco. The fungicide works as a preventative for leaf tissue that does not have target spot and should provide about two weeks of protection. The label lists the use rates of 6.0 to 12.0 ounces per acre.  In the current conditions, nine to 10 ounces per acre should be okay." If you are growing residue-free tobacco, contact your contracting company for approval to apply Quadris, he adds.

Greene County, N.C., missed many of the showers that fell last weekend, though they were all around. "Topsoil is starting to get dry, says Roy Thagard, Greene County Extension chairman. "Tobacco growers are finding budworms above threshold. They are also spraying to manage suckers and target spot."