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 specialist.
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.
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 warning.
DATES TO REMEMBER * 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: Tobacco.ces.ncsu.edu. * 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.