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:
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:
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.
DATES TO REMEMBER