Wednesday, September 12, 2018

HOW TO HANDLE THE HURRICANE


Hustling to beat the hurricanes: Workers hustle to get flue-cured leaf in barns in Wake County, N.C. (File photo by Chris Bickers)
With Florence bearing down, many of the flue-cured growers along the Atlantic Coast faced intense weather conditions with significant tobacco still in the field. Georgia might dodge the bullet since the path of the storm is expected to pass by it, and most of its crop has been harvested already (95 percent as of September 9, according to USDA). But South Carolina still had 10 percent unharvested, Virginia 35 percent, and in North Carolina, Extension specialist Matthew Vann reckons that 40 to 45 percent of the fields still have enough tobacco in them to be negatively affected by Florence.

And the effect can be severe, Vann says. "You can expect heavy rains and very strong winds, and that will cause leaf whipping," he says. "It appears that we can expect at least a three-or-four-day wind. With the intensity of the conditions expected, the leaf is going to ripen extremely fast." To make matters worse, it has been coming off fast the last few weeks, and Vann feels most growers are already maxed out on barn space...What to do? Well, in the short term, the goal should be to minimize the leaf you lose as a result of electrical failure during the cure. Grant Ellington, Extension agricultural engineer at N.C. State, provided an excellent set of recommendations a few storms ago. I am going to print it below in hopes it will help you prepare for the worst.
 
Curing Tips
Should adverse weather cause the loss of electrical current to the tobacco curing barn and a backup generator is not available, listed below are some tips that are recommended in order to minimize leaf damage.

For tobacco that is being cured, the damage that might be sustained is related to the stage of cure when the power is lost and the condition of the tobacco when it is loaded into the barn. Tobacco that is in the very early or late stages of curing generally fairs the best when the power is out for extended periods. The following guidelines are useful when generator capacity is limited or not available:
  • Yellowing (95 degrees WB/100 degrees DB) - about 24 hours - This period can be extended if the tobacco can be cooled to near outside temperatures before power outage occurs or as soon as possible after the outage occurs. Thereafter, the heat should be flushed every hour if the generator capacity is not sufficient to continue the cure normally. If a generator is not available, all air vents and doors should be opened to allow as much heat as possible to escape.
  • Late yellowing/early leaf drying (105 degrees WB/105-115 degrees DB) - about 6 hours - This is the most critical period for damage and the tobacco should be cooled as soon as possible by any means available, with the heat being flushed every hour as suggested above. If sufficient generator capacity is not available and your area is expecting severe damage, tobacco that would be in this stage of curing during a prolonged power outage might be more profitable to the grower if it had not harvested.
  • Leaf drying (105 degrees WB/120-135 DB) - about 24 hours - Extend the safe period by cooling as suggested above. Stem drying (110 degrees WB/150 degrees + DB) - several days - Attention to these barns can be delayed in order to provide attention to barns in the earliest stages of curing.
Barn Loading Considerations
Damage to tobacco during power outages is usually more severe in boxes than racks and particularly when containers are not loaded uniformly or loaded with wet tobacco. Therefore, tobacco harvested between now and the time the threat is passed should be harvested dry, loaded uniformly, and perhaps the containers should be loaded lighter than normal in order to maximize air movement and cooling potential should a power outage occur.
 
Don't forget about your greenhouses.  "Roll up curtains tight and secure doors," says Norman Harrell, Extension director in Wilson County, N.C. "If we lose power, you need to have backup power for the greenhouses to keep the plastic layers fully inflated." 
 
BURLEY REPORT: 
In East Tennessee, 2018 is beginning to look like a better-than-average season. "We have a good-looking crop," says Don Fowlkes, Agronomy Manager, Burley Stabilization Corporation. "There were the normal seasonal challenges, but now it appears that we have decent weight and the outlook for good quality also." At least half has been harvested and curing has gone well. Growers got a break in the first few weeks of curing. "It has beenunusually hot the past two or three weeks, but we have had good humidity so the tobacco hasn't cured too fast." Fowlkes has hopes that this crop may have plenty of the reddish color that buyers are looking for.

In Kentucky, a fairly dark color seems on the way too, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension toba-cco specialist. So far, there hasn't been significant flash curing. Like Tennessee, Kentucky has plenty of humidity. Maybe too much. Pearce fears there may be a problem of houseburn. Some Kentuckians got rain from Tropical Storm Gordon, but there hasn't been much rain since Sunday, Pearce says. "But it continues cloudy. We have had no sunshine for some time." More than half the Kentucky burley crop has been harvested, says Pearce.  "But not much more."

The September USDA Crop Report was released at noon. Flue-cured tobacco production is expected to total 415 million pounds, the report says, down 10 percent from 2017. Burley tobacco production is expected to total 129 million pounds, down 20 percent from last year. Production projections by type and by state for flue-cured and burley follow.
  • Flue-cured: North Carolina--322 million pounds, down 10.2 percent. Virginia--48.4 million pounds, down 4.3 percent. Georgia 22.5 million pounds, down 14.2 percent. South Carolina--21.600 million pounds, down 14.2 percent.                                                               
  • Burley: Kentucky--106 million pounds million pounds, down 17.9 percent. Tennessee 10.200 million pounds, down 43.3 percent. North Carolina--1.360 million pounds, down 15.2 percent. Pennsylvania--10 million pounds, down 3.3 percent. Virginia--1.8 million pounds, down 18.1 percent.
  • Fire-cured: 57.772 million pounds, down 2.9 percent.        
  • Dark air-cured: 26.1 million pounds, up 29.5 percent.
  • Pennsylvania seedleaf: 5.76 million pounds, up 33.3 percent.         
  • Southern Maryland: 3.2 million pounds, down 25.4 percent.
Note--The only types that (according to USDA) increased in production over 2017 are dark air-cured and Pennsylvania seedleaf, neither of which is used in cigarettes.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

AUCTION SALES IMPROVE--A LITTLE

This tobacco was offered for sale in a live auction last Wednesday at the American Tobacco Exchange in Wilson, N.C. Sales continue today at ATE, Horizon Tobacco and Big M Warehouse, all in Wilson. Live auctions are conducted at Old Belt Sales in Rural Hall, N.C., on Tuesdays.



The market for flue-cured lugs has improved slightly in the last two weeks. The ware-housemen I have talked to are confident that all sound tobacco that is offered at auction, including lugs, will find a buyer. "But it will be at a price," Kenneth Kelly of Horizon Tobacco in Wilson, N.C., told me. "This season all our buyers are very price conscious."

Two warehouses--Horizon and American Tobacco Exchange--are offering live auctions every Wednesday till the end of the season. Horizon is also offering silent auctions, as is Big M Warehouse of Wilson. Why? "We decided to meet the demand of the farmers," says Kelly. "We are offering live and silent auctions now, and we will see which commands the most interest over the season." He thinks some of the desire by farmers for a live auction is based on sentiment, on getting back to the old days. Others have said the live auctions are more

transparent. But Kelly finds this belief unconvincing. "Silent auc-tions are just as transparent. If one of my customers wants to know something about the sale, all he has to do is ask me."

How long will the flue-cured auction season last? In the last few years, Horizon has held its last sales in November, but Kelly is worried that this crop won't last that long. "It is ripening at a very fast pace here (around Wilson)."

In the Piedmont of North Carolina, the crop seems to be improving at the Old Belt Sales warehouse in Rural Hall near Winston-Salem. "We had a good sale Tuesday," said Dennis White, owner of the warehouse. "Throwaway lugs were still bringing 80 cents a pound. But lugs with color and body were selling for $1.10 a pound, and if they were orange, $1.25 to $1.30." A few leaf grades were sold at $1.90. "They were sold too early. Those grades will bring more later." A few cutter grades went for $1.75 to $1.80. Old Belt Sales will conduct an auction every Tuesday for the duration of the season.

Reports from the field

Coastal Plain: Growers are pushing to get tobacco out of the field in Robeson County, says Mac Malloy, Extension agent. "Conditions remain dry and rain would be welcome," he says...In the counties around Raleigh, Smithfield and Wilson. Farmers are also in need of a rain, says Don Nicholson, NC Department of Agriculture agronomist. "Tobacco growers are attempting to fill every available curing barn to save as much of the crop as possible," he says...In Craven County, harvest is proceeding quickly due to rapid leaf decay, says Mike Carroll, Extension agent. He earlier reported "wildly variable" crop conditions. "As example, we have fields of tobacco completely harvested, yet there are fields yet to be harvested at all.

Piedmont: The area around Winston-Salem could produce a very good quality crop, says Dennis White [see above], but it may not be real heavy. "We had good weather most of the season, but recently we have had 10 days of 90-degree weather. So it may not weigh a lot. But

it looks to be on the overripe side"...Close to Virginia, soil moistures have increased thanks to recent rainfall, says Caswell County Extension agent Joey Knight. Caswell borders Virginia and is quite close to Danville. Tobacco growers are getting only light weights on tobacco that was planted late. "Early planted tobacco [however] is looking great with good yields. The X and C grades are already harvested," Knight says... In the Virginia Piedmont, Bruce Jones, Extension agent in Appomattox County, says that much of the county received in excess of one inch of rainfall on September 1. "This week will be busy with dark tobacco harvesting and curing," he says.

Mountains: Torrential rains in some areas of Smyth County [Va.] and surrounding counties have resulted in isolated damage to rural roads and fields, says Andy Overbay, Extension agent. "Continued wet weather has damaged the [burley] tobacco crop, but with harvest fast approaching those issues should be contained"... Rainfall from one weekend storm in late August ranged from four to eight inches, says Stanley Holloway, Yancey County [N.C.] agent. "Limited field work [was done] due to wet soils. Crop stage and conditions vary incredibly due to total accumulation of rainfall over the past few weeks." But a relatively dry week through September 2 allowed for some progress in the field.

How much flue-cured has been harvested? As of September 4, USDA estimated that 91 percent of the Georgia crop, 70 percent of the South Carolina crop, 58 percent of the North Carolina crop and 58 percent of the Virginia crop had been harvested.

And burley: 41 percent of the Kentucky crop, 35 percent of the Tennessee crop and 19 percent of the North Carolina crop had been harvested. In Pennsylvania, where three types--including burley--are grown, 69 percent of all types had been harvested. In Kentucky, 84 percent of the Kentucky crop had been topped.


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Thursday, August 23, 2018

PRICES DISAPPOINTING AT FLUE-CURED MARKET OPENING



Opening sales took place this week for most of the flue-cured auction warehouses, and the prices offered were not encouraging. Best quality lugs generally about $1.20 per pound. Contrast that to the scene in this photo, taken at a sale at the Old Belt auction in Rural Hall (near Winston-Salem, N.C.) in the relatively "good old days" of 2012. Best quality lugs brought around $1.60 at auction at the first sale that year. Identifiable along the line are sales leader Bill Jessup (left), auctioneer Chuck Jordan (second from left) and Brent Tilley of Vaughn Tobacco (right). The Old Belt warehouse holds its first sale next Tuesday at 10 a.m.


THIS IS A GOOD FLUE-CURED CROP, says Rick Smith, president of Independent Leaf Tobacco, a leaf dealer in Wilson, N.C. "The tobacco coming out of the barn looks better than expected. There is some very useable downstalk tobacco in it."

Unfortunately, that was not the message the market was sending when auction warehouses opened on August 22. One very disgruntled warehouseman (who asked to remain anonymous), said buyers clearly don't want to buy lugs from this crop. "The highest price for lugs I saw was $1.20, and that was for really good leaf. Plain X tobacco was bringing around 80 cents."

Is China buying or not? The impression among dealers was that the Chinese have decided to honor their contracts with US Tobacco Cooperative and some individual growers it has previously contracted with. But they have been lead to expect that there will be no other Chinese purchases of U.S. flue-cured this year. 
                                                                         
First it was wet in N.C. Then it was dry. Now it is too wet again. "For the past three or four weeks, it seems we have always had rain (in eastern N.C.)," says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "It has slowed harvest because we can't get into the field." Also, the rain has caused the crop to "green up." "It is going to be a challenge to get what we need to get done in August. The crop might come off all at one time. But there is time to finish what we need to finish if it will stop raining. We need drying time. All told, we still have the possibility of a good crop."

Most growers in the East are probably about one to three weeks behind schedule, says Vann. In the N.C. Piedmont, rain caused more of a delay in transplanting, so farmers there may be more like two to four weeks behind. Even though there have been several years recently when the first killing frost was later than usual, you have to assume that first frost will fall around October 10. A crop that is still green at that time could be a big problem.

It's been wet in Kentucky too. "There's been a long stretch of unsettled weather," says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "We have had a lot of rain. It hasn't been solid--more off and on--but it has been enough to slow our harvest. And we have had so much humidity that it may compromise the curing." He recommends managing your cure for good airflow and especially get a good spacing of stalks on the stick. "And do everything you can to get the crop harvested as quickly as possible."

County and regional reports:

In Southeast N.C., the tobacco crop has by and large benefited from recent rainfall, says Tyler Whaly, N.C. Department of Agriculture agronomist for the region including Sampson County. "[It] has allowed for additional growth and leaf expansion of middle and upperstalk positions." Now, soilborne and foliar diseases have become a major issue due to extended periods of leaf wetness and additional pathogen movement through the soil.  "Most growers are behind in harvesting.  It will be very challenging to save the crop due to limited barn space and rapid deterioration in the field."

In the N.C. Piedmont, the tobacco crop is highly variable based on timing of rain, says Brandon Poole, NCDA agronomist for Region 8 which includes Guilford, Granville and other Piedmont counties. "Tobacco that was planted on time seems to be the best in the region for yield and quality. The late-planted crop is short, and quality is poor on lower stalk position leaves, but recent rainfall has helped in filling out upperstalk leaves"...In general, the crop looks good in Lee County, N.C. (south-west of Raleigh), says Zachary Taylor, county Extension agent. "[But] some fields greened up with recent rains and will be very late ripening. Frost may be a concern before all of the crop is in the barn."

In the Piedmont of Virginia, dark tobacco harvest in Appomattox County is under way on many farms. "It is progressing well between the rainy days," says Bruce Jones, Extension tobacco agent. "Topping continues on burley."

In Western N.C., topping is beginning on the burley crop. "Drier weather was a welcome change," says Stanley Holloway, Yancey County Extension agent, near Asheville. "Most areas received only a trace to 0.25 inches of rain last week. Temperatures were cooler with highs mainly in the upper 70s to lower 80's and lows mainly in the mid to upper 50s."

USDA Crop Report: Flue-cured down, burley way down. The first projection of the full 2018 crop by USDA agency National Agricultural Statistics Service's (NASS) indicated that burley production in the United States as of August 1 is expected to total 133 million pounds, down 17 percent from last year. Flue-cured tobacco production is expected to total 430 million pounds, down seven percent from 2017. Among the types and producing states:
  • FLUE-CURED: North Carolina--331.8 million pounds, down 7.47 percent. Virginia--50.6 million pounds, no change. Georgia--26.25 million pounds, no change. South Carolina--21.6 million pounds, 14.2 percent.
  • BURLEY: Kentucky--104.5, down 19 percent. Tennessee--15.3 million pounds, down 15 percent. Pennsylvania--10 million pounds, down 3.3 percent. Virginia--1,800 million pounds, down 18.1 percent. North Carolina--1.36, down 5.5 percent.
  • FIRE-CURED: 54.7 million pounds down 7.9 percent. 
  • DARK AIR-CURED: 19.6 million pounds, down 2.7 percent. 
  • SOUTHERN MARYLAND: 3,360 million pounds, 22.2 percent.
  • PENNSYLVANIA SEEDLEAF: 5.76 million pounds, up 3.3 percent.

How much flue-cured has been harvested? USDA estimates that by August 20, 77 percent of the Georgia crop had been harvested compared to 45 percent in South Carolina; 41 percent in North Carolina crop, and 39 percent in Virginia. Florida wasn't included but it was presumed 100 percent.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

HARVEST SEASON WELL UNDER WAY FOR FLUE-CURED



 You saw a lot of this in eastern N.C. in July: A farmer knocks trashy bottom leaves off his flue-cured using a mechanical delugger during the hot, dry spell in July. "In a year like this one, it was a good tool to have," says Bryant Lancaster of Lancaster Farms near Stantonsburg, N. C. "It eliminates a good portion of trashy lower leaves that we had because of the bad weather." But since this picture was taken on July 17, Lancaster's farm has gotten considerable rain.

Harvest is going on at full speed in Florida and Georgia, although farmers are having to work around showers, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. Floridians may be finished by the end of next week. Georgians aren't that far along, although Moore says that harvest of the crop at the research station in Tifton should be finished next Wednesday. The availability of labor has been a major problem for Georgia-Florida tobacco this year, he says.

How far has harvest gotten in the flue-cured states? According to the USDA agency National Agricultural Statistics Service, through July 29: Georgia farmers had harvested 54 percent of its crop; South Carolina, 21 percent, North Carolina (flue), 17 percent harvested, and Virginia (flue), 11 percent. No burley had been harvested by that date, NASS said, but Kentucky growers have topped 33 percent of their burley and Tennessee 50 percent.

The marketing season got off to an encouraging start when U.S. Tobacco Cooperative began taking deliveries at its Georgia marketing center in Nashville last week. "All stalk positions were represented, and overall, the deliveries look pretty good.," says Moore.

Recent rains have improved conditions in eastern North Carolina. "But there are isolated areas that have received too much rain, negatively affecting tobacco," says Don Nicholson, N.C. Department of Agriculture regional agronomist. North of Raleigh, Franklin County is finally receiving much-needed rains, says Charles Mitchell, Franklin County Extension agent. "But for some fields of tobacco, it is too late," he added.
The certainties about burley marketing in 2018, according to Don Fowlkes, agronomy manager for the Burley Stabilization Corporation. "Red-leaf style burley tobacco is in

 demand in the market-place. Quality is the key to having a product that buyers want. Yield is the key to being profitable, and both quality and yield are necessary for staying in business."

When should you cut burley? Cutting early sacri-fices yield. Cutting late sacrifices quality and fre-quently yield. "In most years for most varieties, early means before three to four weeks after topping and late means more than five to seven weeks after," says Fowlkes. Five weeks is a reasonable average target. "Certainly, let most crops stand at least four weeks, Fowlkes says.

The best dark tobacco crop since 2014? Despite a shortage of plants, the dark tobaccos of western Kentucky and Tennessee are looking very good right now, and a better than average yield seems quite possible, says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist. It has benefited by timely rains.

About 70 percent of the crop has been topped as of the end of July. Some dark tobacco that is grown for cigar wrapper has been harvested, but for most other plantings, harvest is at least two weeks away.

Dicamba problem in dark: At least 300 acres of dark have been contaminated by dicamba in fields close to dicamba-resistant soybeans. Bailey says this tobacco is unmarketable. He

thinks the problem was not so much due to physical drift by the chemical but rather to temperature inversions from dicamba applica-tions made to soybeans in late June and July.
A new foliar spray for target spot: According to California manufacture Marrone Bio, Stargus Biofungicide provides target spot control when applied at a rate of two to three quarts per acre, by itself or in a tank mix with Quadris. It is also registered for blue mold control, sprayed on at a rate of four quarts per acre as soon as symptoms appear. It has a short re-entry time of four hours and is approved for use on organic tobacco.

DATES TO REMEMBER: 

  • August 9, 5:30 p.m. Dark Tobacco Twilight Tour at the West Farm, Murray State University, in Murray, Ky.
  • August 13, 1 p.m. The Kentucky Burley Tobacco Industry Tour will be held on August 13  and 14, starting at 1 p.m. on the 13th at the University of Kentucky Spindletop Research Farm in Lexington. On the 14th, the tour will return to Spindletop at 8 a.m. and travel to research and demonstration plots in Central Kentucky.
















 


 



Thursday, July 19, 2018

SIX PERCENT LESS FLUE-CURED?

The best of a bad-looking crop: Rob Glover of Bailey, N.C. stands in his best tobacco field on July 17. A hot dry summer has left much of the U.S. flue-cured crop in poor condition, but enough rain could still rescue it. You can see this field at the N.C. Organic Cropping Systems Field Day on July 23, beginning at Bailey. See below for details and for some of Glover's experiences growing organic.

USDA released its first estimate of 2018 tobacco production on July 12, based on early June surveying. The estimate covered flue-cured only and forecast this season's production at 432 million pounds, down six percent from 2017. Acreage was estimated at 204,500 acres, two percent below last year, while yield per acre was forecast at 2,111 pounds, down 88 pounds from a year ago. The majority of the crop was rated in good to fair condition. USDA said.
Among the individual states, USDA estimated production at: NC--down 7.5 percent at 331.8 million pounds. VA--down 4.3 percent at 48.4 million pounds. GA-no change at 26.25 million pounds change. SC--no change at 25.2 million pounds.

Progress reports from Extension workers in individual states.

NORTH CAROLINA (Flue): The crop in eastern North Carolina has been through a lot, thanks to a wet early-season and a prolonged hot, dry spell over the past month," says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "We got some rain in places on July 17 and may get a little more Friday or Saturday. Every milliliter will be needed, and we need more."The lower stalk leaf is firing up fast east of Raleigh. "Farmers are hustling to get the lower stalk leaf off the stalk as soon as they can," Vann says. "You see farmers knocking off their bottom leaves with leaf removal equipment."That's probably a good idea. "Leaves grown under the conditions we've had could present market-ing challenges," One of the worst things about the weather in the Coastal Plain this year is that the transition from wet to extremely hot and dry took place almost overnight, Vann says.
NORTH CAROLINA (Burley): In the N.C. mountains, scattered thunderstorms brought significant rainfall to parts of the county the week ending on the July 15. But other parts remained dry. "There was some localized flash flooding," says Stanley Holloway, Yancey County Extension agent. "However, little to no crop damage occurred." Overall, the burley crop is looking pretty good, he says. But black shank is showing up in a few fields.
TENNESSEE: The dry spell has been less severe in much of east Tennessee than in N.C., says Don Fowlkes, manager of agronomy, Burley Stabilization Corporation. "We have been dry for the most part, but the crop has held on pretty well. Most--though not all--of the areasthat needed rain got it this week. The stand is not as good or as uniform as we would like but it is acceptable." The crop was late set, and the June heat made for stand losses and more resetting than normal. Now some is approaching topping. Fowlkes hopes topping will get done on time. On a crop like this, that will be important, he says. Farmers in east Tennessee appear to have reduced plant populations, he says. "The goal is to try to produce more red and reddish leaf."

VIRGINIA: In Appomattox County in the central district, farmers are hopeful for rain. "Tobacco farmers continue to work on weed control, and many will be topping by the middle to end of the week," says Bruce Jones, county Extension agent. "Irrigation will start on tobacco as well if rainfall is not received." In the southeast, Brunswick Extension agent Cynthia Gregg says flue-cured tobacco is being pulled and cured now. "We are in need of rain." In southern Virginia, Pittsylvania Extension agent Stephen Barts says drought conditions continue to worsen, and row crops are suffering in the high heat conditions.

OTHER STATES: In South Carolina, 60 percent of the crop is topped and 10 percent is harvested. In Georgia, 92 percent is topped and 35 percent is harvested. In Kentucky, 12 percent is topped and 33 percent is blooming.
What's the one indispensable step to take when you start out in organic tobacco? "Make sure you have enough organic land for rotation," says Rob Glover, who farms in Bailey, N.C. That can be a real challenge, but Glover has found enough suitable land for his 40 acres of organic as well as 40 of PRC. He rotates tobacco with fescue and wheat, sweet potatoes, and wheat and soybeans. "Fescue fits in well behind tobacco," says Glover, who grew his first organic tobacco in 2012. 

DATES TO REMEMBER: 



N.C. State will host two tobacco events in three consecutive days later this month. The first will be an:
  • Organic Cropping Systems Field Day, Monday, July 23, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rob Glover Farm (see above), 10762 Liles Rd., Bailey, in Nash County, N.C. The farm produces tobacco, sweet potatoes, tobacco transplants, sweet potato slips and broccoli.
  • The second will take place Monday 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. when a Tobacco Curing Demonstration and UAV Diagnostic Overview will be held at Vick Family Farms, 11124 Christian Rd., Wilson.
  • The demonstration will be followed by a reception from 5:30 pm to 7:30 p.m. at Wilson County Elks Lodge, 2814 Fieldstream Dr., Wilson, N.C. A cash bar will be open from 5:30 to 6 p.m., with food served around 6 p.m. 
  • A tour breakfast will be served Tuesday morning, July 24, from 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Oxford Tobacco Research Station, 901 Hillsboro St., in Oxford.
  • On Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., there will be a tour of the Oxford station departing from the Main Office Area at 9 a.m. Stops will include: sprayer cleanout/ contamination issues, OVT/ Minimum Standards program, drip irrigation demonstration, foliar fungicide efficacy trial, simulated drift of auxin herbicides, and herbicide screening evaluations followed by lunch on the grounds at 11:45 a.m.
  • The tour will depart Oxford at 1 p.m. and travel to the Upper Coastal Plain Research Station, 2811 Nobles Mill Pond Rd., Rocky Mount. ending with visits to  Research Plots, including: Black Shank OVT, OVT/Minimum Standards, organic nitrogen source evaluation, legume cover crop demon-stration, and entomology efficacy trials. It will adjourn at 5 p.m.
  • Register for both events at  tobacco.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/06/2018-ncsu-tobacco -tour/. 

*Note: Hotels are available in North Raleigh (Crabtree Valley Mall area) and Oxford (I-85/Hwy 96 area) for those intending to stay in the area. Hotel blocks will not be reserved by NCSU. 

  • The Kentucky Burley Tobacco Industry Tour will be held on August 13  and 14, starting at 1 p.m. on the 13th  at the University of Kentucky Spindletop Research Farm in Lexington. On the 14th, the tour will travel to research and demonstration plots in Central Kentucky. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A MID-SEASON REPORT FROM THE FIELD

 A migrant crew tops a field of flue-cured tobacco near King in the Old Belt of North Carolina. File photo by editor Chris Bickers.

GEORGIA-FLORIDA: It has been wet in Georgia and Florida, but that hasn't stopped a few growers from beginning harvest. "It has just been on a small scale," said J. Michael Moore, Ga. Extension tobacco specialist. "I expect it to get going in earnest this week." The crop isn't pretty at this time. "The rain damaged the lower leaves," he said.

KENTUCKY-TENNESSEE: Kentucky scientists didn't finish planting their demonstration plots at the University research farm in Lexington until July 5. That was several days later than expected because of excess precipitation. "We have had too much rain on this farm," said Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. There was 1.3 inches on Sunday (July 1) and a little more on Monday and Tuesday, making for a late crop. But UK didn't plant the last burley in the state. "We have a few farmers still planting. But the crop is pretty much set," said Pearce on July 7. "There has been heavy rain over many parts of the state, but it has been spotty. Topping is just beginning in some areas." Statewide, NASS reported that 16 percent of the crop had been topped, and two percent was in bloom. In neighboring Tennessee, meanwhile, NASS said five percent of the crop had been topped.

THE CAROLINAS: North Carolina/growers need more rain, said Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "Considering the stressors this crop has faced, it probably is better than it should be. The next 10 days will tell." Farmers, especially in the East, are well into sucker control. "A few growers have been harvesting for a week or two. That will pick up shortly." NASS reported that in South Carolina, 46 percent of the crop had been topped by July 9 and three percent had been harvested. Harvest will come later in the Piedmont. "Because of the weather, some farmers in the area were not able to transplant as early as they wanted to," said Vann. "An area along the Virginia border extending from Stokes to Granville counties got nine to 13 inches of rain in one week at the beginning of June. They got all their rain at once." Topping has started in almost all tobacco fields in Franklin County, N.C., north of Raleigh. "We are experiencing right much Granville wilt again in tobacco fields this year along with a little herbicide injury," said Charles Mitchell, Franklin County Extension agent. "There has also been a little wind damage to the tobacco crop."

VIRGINIA: Lunenburg County Extension agent Lindy Tucker said during the week of the Fourth that conditions had been dry for a few weeks following a wet early summer. "We received a good, much-needed rain Friday evening  [July 6] that  offered some relief from
the heat as well," said Tucker. "Tobacco is hold-ing," she added. In Greens-ville County, Extension agent Sara Rutherford said half the tobacco was flowering as of July 8. "Heading is anticipated in the next few days," she said. In Brunswick County, Ex-tension agent Cynthia Gregg said flue-cured pro-ducers were topping and applying sucker control. "A few have begun pulling lower leaves," she said.
CANADA: In Southern Ontario, most crops appeared to get off to a good start, according to a report from the Canadian Tobacco Research Foundation. The majority of the crop was planted in May, the report said, and cultivation began in mid-June. In the field, few problems have been reported except for some fumigant injury. Most growers will be topping soon.

APPOINTMENTS
Mitchell Richmond, who recently earned a doctorate in Integrated Plant and Soil Science from the University of Kentucky, has taken the position of team leader for the Canadian Tobacco Research Foundation, located in Tillsonburg. He replaces Dan Van Hooren, who retired. Richmond earned his bachelor's degree from Morehead State University in Kentucky. 


DATES TO REMEMBER: 

N.C. State will host two tobacco events in three consecutive days later this month. The first will be an:
  • Organic Cropping Systems Field Day, Monday, July 23, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rob Glover Farm, 10762 Liles Rd., Bailey, in Nash County, N.C. The farm produces tobacco, sweet potatoes, tobacco transplants, sweet potato slips and broccoli.
  • The second will take place Monday 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. A Tobacco Curing Demonstration and UAV Diagnostic Overview will be held at Vick Family Farms, 11124 Christian Rd., Wilson.
  • The demonstration will be followed by a Reception from 5:30 pm to 7:30 p.m. at Wilson County Elks Lodge, 2814 Fieldstream Dr., Wilson, N.C. A cash bar will be open from 5:30 to 6 p.m., with food served around 6 p.m. 
  • A tour breakfast will be served Tuesday morning, July 24, from 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Oxford Tobacco Research Station, 901 Hillsboro St., in Oxford.
  • On Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., there will be a tour of the Oxford station departing from the Main Office Area at 9 a.m. Stops will include: sprayer cleanout/contamination issues, OVT/Minimum Standards program, drip irrigation demonstration, foliar fungicide efficacy trial, simulated drift of auxin herbicides, and herbicide screening evaluations followed by lunch on the grounds at 11:45 a.m.
  • The tour will depart Oxford at one and travel to the Upper Coastal Plain Research Station, 2811 Nobles Mill Pond Rd., Rocky Mount. ending with visits to  Research Plots, including: Black Shank OVT, OVT/Minimum Standards, organic nitrogen source evaluation, legume cover crop demonstration, and entomology efficacy trials. It will adjourn at 5 p.m.
  • Read more at: https://tobacco.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/06/2018-ncsu-tobacco-tour/. 

*Note: Hotels are available in North Raleigh (Crabtree Valley Mall area) and Oxford (I-85/Hwy 96 area) for those intending to stay in the area. Hotel blocks will not be reserved by NCSU. 

  • The Kentucky Burley Tobacco Industry Tour will be held on August 13  and 14, starting at 1 p.m. on the 13th  at the University of Kentucky Spindletop Research Farm in Lexington. On the 14th, the tour will travel to research and demonstration plots in Central Kentucky. 
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PLANTING NEARS END, JUNE 17

EAST TENNESSEE: The end of transplanting burley should come in the next few weeks. "We are not finished now but should be soon," says Don Fowlkes, manager of agronomy with Burley Stabilization Corporation in Greeneville. "As of Wednesday, we were about three fourths complete, which is a little behind the calendar." A wet May delayed it getting in the field. "But now it is growing off nicely in most cases." There should be enough plants to service all the remaining acreage. "But plant supply was questionable at one point." In the neighboring burley states, NASS estimated that 57 percent of the burley crop had been planted in western North Carolina and 81 percent in southwest Virginia by June 10.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Planting has been complete in  for several weeks, says William Hardee, S.C. area Extension agronomy agent in Conway. "So far, the crop looks pretty good. Much of the crop has been laid by. Sucker control has begun. We have a good bit of tomato spotted wilt virus in some places but in others not so bad, along with some soilborne disease and water stress." All in all, at this point, a good crop should certainly be in reach as long as the weather cooperates, he says.

NORTH CAROLINA: In Lee County, the tobacco crop is coming on fast and looking good for the most part, says Zachary Taylor, County Extension agent, But spotty areas were lost or damaged due to drowning, he adds. In  Franklin County, disease started showing up last week, says Charles Mitchell, County Extension agent. "We saw some TSW and Granville Wilt showing up in some fields." 

BLACK PATCH: Fire-cured setting in western Kentucky and central Tennessee is probably 70 percent complete, while dark air-cured setting is about 75 percent, says Andy Bailey, K-T Extension dark tobacco specialist. There have been some major problems with pythium in the float beds and severe transplant shock in some fields where tender plants got very hot in dry conditions immediately after transplanting. "Those and other conditions lead to more hand resetting than we are accustomed to," says Bailey. "We got our first black shank samples confirmed this week on the earliest planted tobacco, which is about five to six weeks old." But none of these situations is bad enough that the crop can't grow out of it. The remainder of dark acres ought to be set by June 25, he says.

As everywhere else, acres are down in the Black Patch too, but not by too much, says Bailey. USST lowered contracts by about 14 percent, and American Snuff raised its contracts five to 10 percent.

The relatively new fire-cured variety, KT D17L appears to be doing well in its first full year in the field, says Bailey. It features the best available resistance to the two strains of black shank: 10 to Race 0 and 6 to Race 1.

Spread of dark types? There are persistent rumors that some farmers in central Tennessee are planting dark types on land that has not been in dark before, or at least not recently. But there is no information on how this tobacco will be marketed.

ANNOUNCEMENTS
Alexander "Sandy" Stewart of Carthage, N.C., has been appointed assistant commissioner of agricultural services for the N.C. Department of Agriculture. "With Dr. Stewart's extensive research background, I expect he will bring outside-the-box critical thinking skills to challenges 
Sandy Stewart
our industry faces," said Steve Troxler, N.C. Commissioner of agriculture. Stewart comes to the department from Dow-DuPont and its cottonseed business, Phyto Gen. From 2011 through 2017, Stewart served as director of the NCDA Research Stations Division. Prior to that, he was an Extension specialist with NCSU's Crop Science Department. Stewart worked a few years with AgriThority in Kansas City, Mo. And prior to that, he served for eight years as a cotton specialist with Louisiana State University. Stewart earned bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees from  N.C. State University.

DATES TO REMEMBER: 

  • June 21, 8 a.m. Springfield, Tn. -Tobacco, Beef and More Field Day. Highland Rim Center. Trade show begins at 8 a.m., and first field tours begin at 8:45 a.m. off Oakland Road, ending at 12:30 p.m., followed by a complimentary lunch. Contact: 615-382-3130. 
  • July 23 8 a.m.-12 p.m. N.C. Organic Field Day, Nash County, N.C.
  • June 23-24 3-5 N.C. Tobacco Tour (Day One), Vick Farm, Nash County.
  • July 24, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. N.C. Tobacco Tour (Day 2 morning): Oxford Tobacco Research Station, 901 Hillsboro St, Oxford, N.C.
  • July 24,  2:30 p.m.-5 p.m. Upper Coastal Plain Research Station. N.C. Tobacco Tour (Day 2 afternoon), 2811 Nobles Mill Pond Rd, Rocky Mount, N.C.