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."