CROP REPORT MAY: PLANTING'S ON IN EARNEST
NORTH CAROLINA--Transplanting in the Piedmont is right on time, in contrast to the Coastal Plain, which is behind. "The Piedmont hasn't had as much rainfall in the past two weeks, which allowed farmers to do field work," says N.C. Extension tobacco specialist Matthew Vann. "But the Coastal Plain is having to catch up." There is a wide range: Some Coastal Plain growers have finished transplanting. "But in Lenoir and Wayne Counties this week, I saw some land that was ridged up but didn't have a single plant in it," says Vann...The supply of plants is adequate, and the quality is "as good as any crop I have been a part of." There was a lot of clipping as plants needed to be held pending better environmental conditions. "There would have been more
except some farmers delayed seeding their greenhouses a little later than normal. I would say many houses got 12 to 15 clippings, and a few got 20 or more." Vann hopes transplanting will wrap up in the next week and a half in the Coastal Plain and maybe by the end of May in the Piedmont. Despite the late start that many farmers got, Vann thinks some fields will be ready for layby in three weeks.
VIRGINIA-- In Lunenburg Coun-ty, transplants have done well so far, says tobacco Extension agent Lindy Tucker. "Tobacco really just started going in this week (ending May 3), but we'll probably see some major progress this coming week," she said in USDA's weekly Crop Progress and Condition Report. Statewide, flue-cured is eight percent transplanted, burley is only two percent transplanted and the small fire-cured crop is one percent transplanted.
SOUTH CAROLINA—Transplanting in South Carolina was slowed significantly due to the wet weather, but what has been planted—which is most of the crop--looks good, says William Hardee, Extension area agronomy agent for Horry & Marion Counties. The upcoming warmer temperatures should get the crop on the move. There has been considerable interest in organic tobacco this year, says Hardee. Farmers generally have been able to find new land or old pasture land to satisfy the rotational requirement.
GEORGIA-FLORIDA--Planting is substantially complete, with development in the field well on its way in some fields, especially in Florida. "All plants produced in the state were used, and some plants were brought in from other states to fill in the voids," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. There are no major pest problems in the field so far, he says. There is some tomato spotted wilt virus, but generally less than five percent of plants show symptoms. Most plants got one application of Imidacloprid in the greenhouse, and some applied Actigard as well. "That is our most effective treatment for tomato sported wilt virus," says Moore. "Imidacloprid and Actigard in the greenhouse." Moore continues to think that Georgia will end up with 12,000 acres planted while Florida will wind up with 1,200. That would be roughly a 25 percent reduction for both states (not 10 percent, as the TFN editor mistakenly calculated in the last issue--apologies for the bad arithmetic). Now, there is a wide range of moisture conditions. "We could use some rain in some areas but in others, the fields are too wet to work," he says.
KENTUCKY--Burley farmers are just beginning to plant, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "Our plants are a little late," he says. "If more were ready we would plant a lot more this week, I think." Variegated cutworms could appear in the greenhouse this time of year--Pearce says Orthene sprays are about the only control measure. You don't want to let cutworms go undetected. They can chew through a lot of plants in a hurry," he says...According to USDA's Crop Progress and Condition report for Kentucky, transplant supplies were reported as 1 percent very short, 4 percent short, 87 percent adequate, and 8 percent surplus. Forty-two percent of transplants were under 2 inches, with 38 percent between two and four inches, and 20 percent over four inches.
TENNESSEE--Drier conditions allowed for some field work to begin this week, says Ronnie Barron, tobacco agent in Cheatham County, Tn., near Nashville. "Tobacco transplants are looking good. Growers hope to start with early transplanting within the next week."
KENTUCKY-TENNESEE--Plantings of dark tobacco has just begun, with the first probably taking place in Christian County in southwest Kentucky, says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist. He doubts that more than five percent of the crop has been planted, but the weather has been very good, so things will pick up quickly and continue perhaps to the last week of June. A few variegated cutworms, mainly black, have shown up, and there is a little collar rot also. Burley plantings have been cut down dramatically, says Bailey. "There is a slight decrease in dark types. A little more burley seems to have transplanted than dark."