Harvest just ahead: "It looks like we will begin harvesting in about two weeks," says flue-cured grower Kenneth Dasher of Live Oak, Fl. "Some other farmers around here may start sooner." The big problem so far has been the intense heat. "We had four days in a row when it got to 100 degrees or above," Dasher says. "We have had to put a lot of water to it." But so far, he hasn't had much sun scald.
In Georgia, the crop is completely set, and one per cent has been topped. Even irrigated fields in some counties are struggling due to too many pivots being on the same pump. "Many of these were not being turned off in an attempt to keep up with the demands of the crop," says Seth McAllister, Terrell County Extension agent.
In South Carolina, planting is complete and topping ready to begin shortly. In Horry County, the leading tobacco county, some much-needed rain was received last week, says Rusty Skipper, Extension agent. "But it could be too little too late for some corn crops in the eastern part of the county," he says.
Most flue-cured in North Carolina looks good at this point, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. There has been some hail to go along with high temperatures, but with good weather from here on, the damage could be incon-sequential. It was so dry early that one can reasonably expect heal-thy root systems. It wasn't till the last week of May that rain began to fall. "Much of the crop will soon be ready for layby, and a few growers have already started," he says. "First contact appli-cations of sucker control chemicals will probably begin around the end of June in the Border Belt."
In Virginia, 88 percent of the flue-cured has been transplanted, 77 percent of the fire-cured has been transplanted and 71 percent of the burley has been transplanted, according to USDA. In Appomattox County, where all three types are grown, wet weather has delayed tobacco transplanting and the cultivation of already transplanted tobacco, says Bruce Jones, Extension agent. "We have experienced extremely wet soil conditions for the past seven days." Tobacco plants still in the greenhouses are holding reasonably well, he says.
In Tennessee, 39 percent of the burley had been transplanted. In Cheatham County, just west of Nashville, a little rain fell on June 30. "We were getting a little dry," says Extension agent Ron Barron. "Most all of the early tobacco has been set, due to two previous weeks of dry weather."
In Kentucky, transplanting was 49 percent complete. That is well behind the 57 percent completed by this date a year ago. Fieldwork was interrupted at times by heavy rain, which in some cases led to standing water in low lying areas, says USDA. Despite the adverse conditions, farmers were able to make planting progress last week.
A new cigarette containing no leaf other than flue-cured--The U.S. [Flue-Cured] Tobacco Cooperative has announced that it will soon launch a new super-premium cigarette made entirely of leaf grown by its grower members. Called Manitou, it will be a cigarette of the "Virginia" or "British" type, meaning it will contain only flue-cured tobacco (and water). Virtually all other American cigarette brands are made using a blend of flue-cured, burley and oriental tobaccos. Called the "American" blend, it has been the dominant U.S. type since soon after Richard Joshua Reynolds introduced it in the Camel brand in 1914. Before that, the "British" blend was the market leader in this country.
Manitou will be marketed by USTC's consumer products division, Premier Manufacturing of Chesterfield, Mo. Some observers have suggested that Manitou will compete with Natural American Spirit cigarettes, which are thought to contain a high percentage of flue-cured. It was not apparent from a USTC statement if Manitou will be manufactured in the cooperative's factory in Timberlake, N.C.
What does Manitou mean? It is a Native American word referring to the primitive life force in all of us.
DATES TO REMEMBER
July 22, 8:30 a.m. N.C. Organic Commodities Field Day. Till 12:30 p.m., followed by lunch. Cunningham Research Station, Kinston, 200 Cunningham Rd., Kinston, N.C.
July 23, 9 a.m. Tobacco Tour-Field Day, Upper Coastal Plain Research, 2811 Nobles Mill Pond Rd., Rocky Mount, N.C. Ends approximately 3 p.m.
GAP training events: