Monday, March 5, 2018


Clipped and ready to go, these flue-cured plants await transplanting in this file photo from eastern North Carolina.
There may be a crop or two planted in Florida this week, but most growers there will probably wait till March 20 or later, while Georgians will probably start in earnest around April 7, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia/Florida Extension tobacco specialist. "We will have plants in plenty of time. Farmers are already clipping on a regular basis." Most plants are of good color, he adds. There have been no issues with insects and only a little pythium.

Steaming is catching on in Georgia, says Moore, as a few commercial plant producers are providing steaming as a service to their customers. Farmers are still doing some rinsing of trays. But dipping or rinsing trays in cleanser is only surface cleaning, and it can't provide decontamination of pathogens embedded in the walls of the trays.

In Kentucky, a few steamers have been used but the traditional dip treatment in a 10 percent bleach solution remains the most common strategy, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist.

Another possibility: Trilogy trays have actually done well in Kentucky testing. "We looked at them side by side with other treatments, and there was little difference in performance," says Pearce. "The biggest issue is price, although it seems like the trays are durable enough to last longer than conventional trays. But many growers are reluctant to make a long-term investment."

A proactive approach to disease control in the greenhouse is a key to growing a quality transplant, says Pearce. Leafspot diseases are a good  example. "You need to begin preventive spray when plants are just big enough to cover the cell," he says. "Spray Manzate once a week, substituting Quadris one week."

A number of awards were presented--and one new grower leader was introduced--during the 2018 Southern Farm Show held from January 31-February 2 in Raleigh.

The Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina presented six awards during its annual meeting on the last day of the show:
  • Distinguished Service Award--Ray Star-ling, Special Assistant to the U.S. President for Agriculture.
  • President's Award--Brandon and Clint Strick-land, Salemburg, N.C.
  • Outstanding Director--Tim Yarbrough, a Caswell County, N.C., tobacco grower and past president of TGANC.
  • Lifetime Century Member -- Richard Reich, N.C. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Services Assistant Commissioner,  Reich retired at the end of February.
  • Extension Service Award--Hannah Burrack, N.C. Extension Service entomologist.
  • Farm Family of the Year--Rouse Ivey Family Farms, Duplin County, N.C.
The Tobacco Farm Life Museum presented two awards at its annual "Breakfast with the Commissioner" on the last day of the show:
  • Innovative Farmer of the Year--Justin and Holly Miller, Cherry Hill Farm, Advance, N.C.
  • Excellence in Agriculture--Bobby Wellons,  Tobacco Marketing Specialist, USDA AMS, Princeton, N.C.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture presented its export award during the Ag Development Forum on the second day of the show:
  • N.C. Exporter of the Year--Scott Farms of Lucama, N.C. Accepting the award was Linwood "Sonny" Scott Jr., president and co-owner of the farm.
The U.S. Tobacco Cooperative (USTC) introduced its new Chief Executive Officer:
  • Robert B. Fulford Jr., whose appointment took place the week of the show. Fulford previously was Vice President--Leaf Operations for Reynolds American Incorporated and earlier held senior level positions with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and with Brown & Williamson. "Robert has a track record of strong leadership, [which when] combined with his deep industry knowledge, makes him uniquely qualified to lead USTC successfully into the future," said Andrew Shepherd, a Blackstone, Va., farmer and chairman of the USTC board. Ed Kacsuta, USTC's Chief Financial Officer, said Fulford is the best choice to lead the cooperative. "He has been a successful executive, and more importantly, he's a great fit with our culture and core values. We're delighted that he has accepted the position." 
(Note: This piece appeared in slightly different form in an earlier edition.)


  1. Farming is not an easy thing. I always knew that...

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