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." 

Sunday, June 4, 2017


Tomato spotted wilt virus ravages a field in south Georgia.

GEORGIA-FLORIDA--Tomato spotted wilt had appeared earlier in the season in the Type 14 states, but the pace picked up considerably in the week just ended, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. "It doubled its infestation rate to around 20 percent of plants showing symptoms, and we have older tobacco in which the infestation is as much as 50 percent.

The symptoms run from dead plants to ones where one or two leaves on one side are dying." The mild winter was the culprit. It allowed the survival of alternate host crops and the survival and high populations of thrips, which vector spotted wilt. "There is just so much you can do about spotted wilt, and most of it has to be done by the time the crop reaches this stage. Once the tobacco is in the field, most measures are futile." But good sucker control may help in keeping the disease from spreading. "Clean your crop up and apply flumetralin and maleic hydrazide when it is needed," Moore says. "Precise sucker control is one of the few things that can help, along with any-thing that will maximize yields and use up lost nutrients." Other practices that might help: 
  • Remove weeds so they won't interfere with harvest. 
  • Don't overfertilize after planting. 
  • Cure as economically as you can, using ventilator controls if possible.
NORTH CAROLINA--Tomato spotted wilt has broken out with a vengeance in the coastal plain counties of N.C. "In the last two weeks, we have seen a lot

of it," says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "The timing suggests it came here from Georgia." The mild to nonexistent winter is the cause. "We have suffered losses ranging from five percent to 40 percent. So far, it looks like it will be a record year for spotted wilt. It is worse in the tobacco that was transplanted early than the later crop." So far, there's been no spotted wilt west of Raleigh. "We don't really expect it there."

SOUTH CAROLINA--Much needed rain fell in the Pee Dee over last weekend as corn was starting to tassel, says Rusty Skipper, Extension agent in Horry County. But spotted wilt has broken out here too. "Tomato spotted wilt virus is more prevalent this year, and the damage is more extensive than in years past," he says."

VIRGINIA--Spotted wilt has even made an appearance in Virginia, says David Reed, Virginia Extension tobacco specialist. "There's not much, but it is more than we are used to," he says. "It is rarely a problem here." He visited a farm Friday that had two percent of its plants with symptoms. At this point, he doesn't expect to see many fields with more than four per cent....Flue-cured planting is subs-tantially complete, while dark and burley planting is at least 75 percent done, maybe more. "We got started early, then we were rained out for a while, so there is an early and a late crop: Some is just transplanted, and some of it has been laid by. All of it looks real good."

KENTUCKY--Things are going smoothly for Kentucky growers right now, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Exten-sion tobacco specialist. "The crop is in excellent shape, and we have made good prog-ress on planting. Some areas are essentially done. Perhaps 60 percent to 70 percent of the crop has been plan-ted." He reports no major problems. There's been plenty of rain. "But whenever there has been a clear day, farmers have been ready to go."... Around Danville, Ky., grower warehouseman Jerry Rankin says he and his workers have been planting till 9:30 at night. "We are catching up now, but I would say we are a good two weeks behind," he says. "Much of this area (central Bluegrass) had tremendous rainfall. But the last four days, we are beginning to get back in the fields." He estimated 35 to 40 percent of fields in the area have been set by June 1.

TENNESSEE--Rain slowed things too in the Burley Belt's largest volume county, Macon in Tennessee. "We are not halfway done planting," says Keith Allen, county tobacco agent. "A lot is going to be planted. I have seen tobacco this season in fields where I have never seen it before--and I have been here 25 years." A lot will be put out, much more than last year. "We had a little more than 5,000 acres in 2016 in this county, [which is east of Nashville]. We might push 6,000 acres this season." The new acres are coming in part from land that has been in other row crops the past few years, Allen says.

More reports from the field--Notes from agents of the Extension Service and of the state Departments of Agriculture: 
  • "Wet fields are causing issues with tobacco farmers getting the last 10 percent to 20 percent of the crop planted," says Dwayne Tate, DOA agronomist in the Boone/Hickory/Morganton region.Transplant quality is suffering, he adds.
  • "Tobacco [growers] need to watch out for target spot with humid conditions following," says Gary Cross, Person County (N.C.) Extension agent.
  • Plants on deep sandy soils In Lee County, N.C., looks excellent. "That on heavier soils could use a break from the rain," says Zachary Taylor, County Extension agent.
  • It rained again this week in Atkinson County, Ga., says County Extension agent Tony Barnes. "We got enough rain to get soil moisture up to a suitable level to finish planting. Tobacco has really grown and looks much better."
  • Last week's spotty rains slowed some work," says Cynthia Gregg, Extension agent in Brunswick County, Va. "Tobacco is looking good, but needs some sun." 

In other tobacco news--

Flea beetles on burley: Young plants are showing some flea beetle damage in Macon County. "We put a control chemical in the setter water but in many cases it was too damp for the plant to take the chemical up," says Allen. Now, there is beginning to be some concern about the condition of plants. "There are still a lot of plants in the greenhouse," says Allen. "We have had a good greenhouse season but the longer the plants stay in the greenhouse there is more chance for disease."

More on auxin drift:  With the new dicamba-resistant soybeans, there is a danger in Kentucky of auxin herbicide drift on tobacco. "Not much of a problem is expected in eastern or central Kentucky, but western Kentucky [where significant acreages of grain crops are grown] may be a different story," Pearce says. "There could be potential concerns if growers don't take appropriate caution." Keep in contact with any neighbor who might be spraying an auxin, he says. "Communication is the key to preventing contamination by drift."

Management change at cooperative: After three years as chief executive of the of U.S. Tobacco Cooperative (USTC), Stuart Thompson resigned in May. He has been replaced on an interim basis by Chief Financial Officer Edward Kacsuta, the company said. Thompson joined USTC five years ago as CFO. "His departure comes at a time when there were differing opinions on business strategy," USTC said. USTC is owned by flue-cured growers and based in Raleigh, N.C.

  • June 12-14, Georgia Tobacco Tour. Monday, June 12, 7 p.m. Kick-Off Supper at Johnson's Pond House in Blackshear, Ga. Tuesday, June 13, 7:30 a.m. Leave from Quality Inn/Suites for farm visits. End for the day in Tifton, Ga. Wednesday, June 14, 7:30 a.m. Leave Hampton Inn to visit Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Tifton, and Florida tobacco producers. The tour will end near Live Oak, Fla. For more information contact J. Michael Moore at 229-392-6424 or
  • June 22, Tobacco Field Day. Highland Rim AgResearch & Education Center, Springfield, Tn. 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 P.M. (CDT). Contact 615-382-3130.
  • July 24-26. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Details to follow.
  • July 27. Annual Tobacco Research Field Day. Southern Piedmont AREC, Blackstone, Va. Details to follow.


Sunday, May 21, 2017


Transplanting flue-cured near Nashville, N.C. [File photo by Chris Bickers]

VIRGINIA--In the Virginia Piedmont, rains were hit and miss last week, Lunenburg County Extension agent Lindy Tucker said, "Farmers received some more rain this week (ending May 14). Hay land needs it, but crop producers wish it would hold off until tobacco is finished." But the tobacco planting is making good progress. Statewide, about 31 percent of the flue-cured had been transplanted by mid-May, compared to 12 percent of the burley crop and 19 percent of the small dark fire-cured crop.
NORTH CAROLINA--Transplanting of flue-cured was 73 percent complete by mid May, according to the USDA Progress Report. Moisture conditions varied: In Robeson County, transplants have suffered from rains, strong winds and cool temperatures, said Mac Malloy, Robeson Extension agent ... In Craven County, excessive rain fall of three to five inches saturated the soil and leached nutrients. Producers working to make nutrient adjustments. Approximately five percent of tobacco production will likely need to be transplanted again. Tomato spotted wilt evident in many tobacco fields, ranging from two to 10 percent common, said Craven County Extension agent Mike Carroll...But the weather was drier than expected last week in Greene County, allowing many farmers to catch up with planting. "I anticipate all tobacco growers to be finished early this week," says Roy Thagard, Greene County Extension agent.
SOUTH CAROLINA--The last nine percent of the S.C. crop was planted the week ending May 14, says the USDA Progress Report says. In the Pee Dee, the major tobacco-growing area, cooler daytime temperatures, lower humidity and an adequate supply of rainfall have led to tobacco growing well in Horry County, said Extension agent Hilda Shelley. The recent rains were very welcome in this area, which had been very dry though much of April.
GEORGIA--Planting is complete. In Candler County, near Savannah, it is a little dry, and a lot of farmers are waiting for some moisture. "Tobacco looks fair," said Chris Earls, Candler County Extension agent. Some replanting was reportedly continuing.
KENTUCKY--Tobacco setting is moving forward steadily, says USDA's Prog-ress and Condition Report. Tobacco transplant supplies were reported as one per cent very short, three percent short, 89 percent adequate, and seven percent surplus, the report says. Twelve percent of tobacco transplants were under two inches, with 37 percent between two to four inches, and 51 percent over four inches. Just over 10 percent of the crop had been planted by mid May.

In other tobacco news:

Never use your tobacco sprayer to spray herbicides on pastures, says Tennessee agronomists. "Pasture herbicides are very difficult to wash out of sprayers," they says. "Because of the sensitivity of tobacco to pasture herbicides, chemicals such as 2.4-D can cause serious damage." If you have pastures to spray, have a dedicated sprayer for them.

Control weeds at layby. As disrupted as weed control may have been to this point, this might be a good year to make a layby herbicide application, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. The options for herbicide application at layby on N.C. flue-cured are:
  • Prowl H20 or 3.3EC band applied to row middles. "It must be kept off tobacco leaves due to residue concerns," says Vann. Apply after layby cultivation.
  • Devrinol 50DF or 2XT band applied to row middles. Apply after layby cultivation. Rates are two to four pounds, ai/acre. Use higher rates to provide longer residual control, but be aware drift to smallgrains is a concern.
  • Aim EC must be applied with a shielded sprayer at layby or post directed under the canopy at first harvest. Keep the material off the tobacco to prevent serious injury. Aim offers no residual control, and if Palmer amaranth or other pigweeds are more than four inches tall, control will be very poor. "I would expect decent control of morningglory," he says.
Given the concern placed on weed seed contamination in tobacco exports, it is critical that extra focus is placed on weed control management at all stages of this crop, says Vann.

  • June 6, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Georgia On-Farm Safety and Compliance Training Event Check-in begins at 8 a.m. Daniel Johnson Farm, 2747 Daniel Rd., Alma, Ga. Pre-registration encouraged. Contact Amy Rochkes. Phone: 865.622.4606 Ext. 107. E-mail:
  • June 8, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. South Carolina On-Farm Safety and Compliance Training Event. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. Martin Johnson Farm, 2384 Golden Leaf Rd., Galivants Ferry, S.C. Pre-registration encouraged. Contact Amy Rochkes. Phone: 865 622 4606 Ext 107. E-mail:
  • June 12-14, Georgia Tobacco Tour. Monday, June 12, 7 p.m. Kick-Off Supper at Johnson's Pond House in Blackshear, Ga. Tuesday, June 13, 7:30 a.m. Leave from Quality Inn/Suites for farm visits. End for the day in Tifton, Ga. Wednesday, June 147:30 a.m. Leave Hampton Inn to visit Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Tifton, and Florida tobacco producers. The tour will end near Live Oak, Fla. For more information contact J. Michael Moore, at 229-392-6424 or www.Georgia

Friday, May 5, 2017


Burley transplanting in a conservation tillage field in 
Kentucky (file photo by Bob Pearce).

In Kentucky, transplanting is just getting started, with perhaps one percent of the acreage planted, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "Just a few crops have been planted, and I doubt any of them are very far along." He expects setting to get in high gear the second week of May.

It's very unlikely there will be a shortage of burley transplants this year. Farmers had to start seeding greenhouses before contracts had been offered, and some have ended up with more than were actually needed, says Pearce.

How many acres? Pearce is skeptical about the USDA's March 31 estimate of 65,000 acres of burley in Kentucky this year, seven percent more than 2016. "I think that it is overly optimistic," he says. He calculates that planted burley acreage in the state will be similar to last year.

In Tennessee planting is also just getting started, with at most two percent set, says Eric Walker, Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist. Rains expected the middle and end of this week might slow things further. Farmers who manage to miss those rains can probably get started, he says. Others may have to wait for the ground to dry up.

In Georgia and Florida, the crop is completely transplanted except perhaps for some stragglers, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. "There is a little replanting going on," he says. It was extremely hot the last two weeks, with air and soil temperatures in the 80s, and the stems of many small plants dried at the soil line and fell over. That will probably take up every available plant in the two states, says Moore. "But I think we will get planted everything the farmers intended."

Well under five percent of the Georgia-Florida flue cured crop is showing symptoms of tomato spotted wilt which is less than was expected, considering the warm winter and abundance of rain. "Our growers were intense in their use of Actigard and imidacloprid," says Moore. "That probably was a factor." But TSWV could still appear. "We can't be sure we have dodged that bullet," he says.

In South Carolina, the Pee Dee got plenty of rain in late April, but it was not a big problem. Since the area had been dry, the rain was welcome and benefited crops. Transplants are starting to take root nicely.

In North Carolina, 38 percent of the flue-cured crop had been transplanted by May 1. But progress varied widely between individual counties. Approximately 70 percent of the tobacco crop had been set before the rain event in Lee County, says Extension agent Zachary Taylor. "Leaching adjustments will be needed. Weed control will be a concern as many PRE herbicides have likely leached"...In Craven County, only a small per- centage of tobacco had been transplanted, so the impact was small, says Extension agent Mike Carroll.

In Virginia, only three percent of the state flue-cured crop had been transplanted by May 1, according to NASS. About one percent each of the burley and fire-cured had been transplanted...In Brunswick County, the heavy rain last week slowed down planting and left standing water in ditches and fields, says County Extension agent Cynthia Gregg. "Some producers were able to get back to planting tobacco, and others started planting tobacco this weekend."

In other tobacco news:

When making a leaching adjustment, consider using fertilizer sources absent of phosphorus, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "Phosphorus is not very leachable in the soil profile," he says. "Therefore it is likely that the nutrient is still in place.  This will reduce the cost of having to re-apply nutrients."

Brazil's 2017 flue-cured crop will apparently be roughly 50 percent larger than the short 2016 crop, approximately 1,300 million pounds to 900 million pounds. "Current quality appears to be good and in line with expectations," says Peter Sikkel, chief executive officer of Alliance One International. "We are expecting similar positive crop size increases in other key markets."