Saturday, May 4, 2019


Workers load trays on a transplanter on a flue-cured farm near Raeford, N.C., in this file photo by Chris Bickers.

In fact, transplanting in the Deep South is done. The last of the Georgia crop was transplanted by April 27, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. Florida's tobacco had gone in earlier. "We have had good weather generally," he says. "There weren't a lot of extra plants, but we had enough."

The earliest Georgia tobacco was planted around the end of March and it is growing well, but tobacco planted after that is growing slowly. It has been dry the last two weeks, and that may have suppressed tomato spotted wilt. 'There has been very little tomato spotted wilt so far, but we may see more once it starts raining," Moore said. He suspects planting will be down about 30 percent when all is said and done.

Growers  in   the  Coastal Plain of North Carolina are transplanting at full tilt. The fields that have been transplanted are about a week behind average in development. That's partly because some growers delayed seeding until they had a clear idea about the contracts that were going to be available to them. "It has only been in the last two weeks that the conditions for transplanting were good," says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist on May 3. "We had warm soil, warm temperatures and the soil was not saturated."

Now, the crop looks good, says Vann. The southern and central Coastal Plain is leading the pack, as you would expect. The Old Belt will begin planting in earnest next week." The greenhouse season went really well and there appears to be an ample supply of plants.

In South Caroli-na, farmers in Horry, the leading leaf county, has had favorable co-nditions for set-ting plants and are doing so at a fast pace, accor-ding to Rusty Skipper Extension agent. USDA estimated  transplanting was 27 percent complete for the state as of April 29.

Good weather is helping Kentucky growers get into the field. "We have had a little planting, but I doubt we are up to five percent yet," says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "So far, it has been the best  start to a season we've had in some time." He thinks plantings in Kentucky may be down 20 percent.

Growers in Virginia had just started transplanting through April 28. According to USDA, Virginia flue-cured was four percent transplanted and burley and fire-cured were two percent transplanted.

He may be in a minority, but Scott Travis of Cox's Creek, Ky., still uses small balers to bale his burley. "I have three," he says. "I bought one big baler, but it didn't work out for me."

To go entirely to big bales, Travis would have had to buy two more big balers (one for each grade) and modify his physical facilities for all three to fit. "All told, it would have cost $50,000," he says. "In this tobacco economy, that didn't make sense." Besides, it's a whole lot easier to control moisture in the small bales, he says.

He ran into resistance from tobacco companies to the small bales. He has bypassed that by selling his crop at auction, mostly at Farmers Warehouse in Danville, Ky.

Bailey bails out: The small independent cigarette manu-facturer S&M Brands Inc. of Keysville, Va., has ceased ope-rations. Its doors were closed in March after the company was sold to an unidentified buyer, according to newspaper reports. S&M has manufactured the discount brands Baileys, Tahoe and Riverside, among others, for the past 25 years. It was launched by tobacco growers Mac Bailey and his son Steven. The Baileys will retain--at least for the moment--their leaf dealer business Golden Leaf Tobacco Co. No word yet as to whether Golden Leaf will participate in any of the tobacco auctions. They will continue growing tobacco as has been a family tradition since the 1800s.

The basics of hemp production, Part 4: Industrial hemp seed is quite sensitive to lack of soil moisture at planting, and it could readily contribute to stand failures. So seed should be planted in soils with adequate moisture to encourage rapid germination. This also impacts weed control: Without the availability of labeled herbicides, you must rely heavily on rapid development and closure of the hemp canopy to reduce or eliminate weed competition. Adequate soil temperature (50oF) and moisture at planting will help accomplish this.--D.W. Williams, University of Kentucky, and Rich Mundell, Kentucky Tobacco R&D Center


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