Sunday, May 21, 2017


Transplanting flue-cured near Nashville, N.C. [File photo by Chris Bickers]

VIRGINIA--In the Virginia Piedmont, rains were hit and miss last week, Lunenburg County Extension agent Lindy Tucker said, "Farmers received some more rain this week (ending May 14). Hay land needs it, but crop producers wish it would hold off until tobacco is finished." But the tobacco planting is making good progress. Statewide, about 31 percent of the flue-cured had been transplanted by mid-May, compared to 12 percent of the burley crop and 19 percent of the small dark fire-cured crop.
NORTH CAROLINA--Transplanting of flue-cured was 73 percent complete by mid May, according to the USDA Progress Report. Moisture conditions varied: In Robeson County, transplants have suffered from rains, strong winds and cool temperatures, said Mac Malloy, Robeson Extension agent ... In Craven County, excessive rain fall of three to five inches saturated the soil and leached nutrients. Producers working to make nutrient adjustments. Approximately five percent of tobacco production will likely need to be transplanted again. Tomato spotted wilt evident in many tobacco fields, ranging from two to 10 percent common, said Craven County Extension agent Mike Carroll...But the weather was drier than expected last week in Greene County, allowing many farmers to catch up with planting. "I anticipate all tobacco growers to be finished early this week," says Roy Thagard, Greene County Extension agent.
SOUTH CAROLINA--The last nine percent of the S.C. crop was planted the week ending May 14, says the USDA Progress Report says. In the Pee Dee, the major tobacco-growing area, cooler daytime temperatures, lower humidity and an adequate supply of rainfall have led to tobacco growing well in Horry County, said Extension agent Hilda Shelley. The recent rains were very welcome in this area, which had been very dry though much of April.
GEORGIA--Planting is complete. In Candler County, near Savannah, it is a little dry, and a lot of farmers are waiting for some moisture. "Tobacco looks fair," said Chris Earls, Candler County Extension agent. Some replanting was reportedly continuing.
KENTUCKY--Tobacco setting is moving forward steadily, says USDA's Prog-ress and Condition Report. Tobacco transplant supplies were reported as one per cent very short, three percent short, 89 percent adequate, and seven percent surplus, the report says. Twelve percent of tobacco transplants were under two inches, with 37 percent between two to four inches, and 51 percent over four inches. Just over 10 percent of the crop had been planted by mid May.

In other tobacco news:

Never use your tobacco sprayer to spray herbicides on pastures, says Tennessee agronomists. "Pasture herbicides are very difficult to wash out of sprayers," they says. "Because of the sensitivity of tobacco to pasture herbicides, chemicals such as 2.4-D can cause serious damage." If you have pastures to spray, have a dedicated sprayer for them.

Control weeds at layby. As disrupted as weed control may have been to this point, this might be a good year to make a layby herbicide application, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. The options for herbicide application at layby on N.C. flue-cured are:
  • Prowl H20 or 3.3EC band applied to row middles. "It must be kept off tobacco leaves due to residue concerns," says Vann. Apply after layby cultivation.
  • Devrinol 50DF or 2XT band applied to row middles. Apply after layby cultivation. Rates are two to four pounds, ai/acre. Use higher rates to provide longer residual control, but be aware drift to smallgrains is a concern.
  • Aim EC must be applied with a shielded sprayer at layby or post directed under the canopy at first harvest. Keep the material off the tobacco to prevent serious injury. Aim offers no residual control, and if Palmer amaranth or other pigweeds are more than four inches tall, control will be very poor. "I would expect decent control of morningglory," he says.
Given the concern placed on weed seed contamination in tobacco exports, it is critical that extra focus is placed on weed control management at all stages of this crop, says Vann.

  • June 6, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Georgia On-Farm Safety and Compliance Training Event Check-in begins at 8 a.m. Daniel Johnson Farm, 2747 Daniel Rd., Alma, Ga. Pre-registration encouraged. Contact Amy Rochkes. Phone: 865.622.4606 Ext. 107. E-mail:
  • June 8, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. South Carolina On-Farm Safety and Compliance Training Event. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. Martin Johnson Farm, 2384 Golden Leaf Rd., Galivants Ferry, S.C. Pre-registration encouraged. Contact Amy Rochkes. Phone: 865 622 4606 Ext 107. E-mail:
  • June 12-14, Georgia Tobacco Tour. Monday, June 12, 7 p.m. Kick-Off Supper at Johnson's Pond House in Blackshear, Ga. Tuesday, June 13, 7:30 a.m. Leave from Quality Inn/Suites for farm visits. End for the day in Tifton, Ga. Wednesday, June 147:30 a.m. Leave Hampton Inn to visit Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Tifton, and Florida tobacco producers. The tour will end near Live Oak, Fla. For more information contact J. Michael Moore, at 229-392-6424 or www.Georgia

Friday, May 5, 2017


Burley transplanting in a conservation tillage field in 
Kentucky (file photo by Bob Pearce).

In Kentucky, transplanting is just getting started, with perhaps one percent of the acreage planted, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "Just a few crops have been planted, and I doubt any of them are very far along." He expects setting to get in high gear the second week of May.

It's very unlikely there will be a shortage of burley transplants this year. Farmers had to start seeding greenhouses before contracts had been offered, and some have ended up with more than were actually needed, says Pearce.

How many acres? Pearce is skeptical about the USDA's March 31 estimate of 65,000 acres of burley in Kentucky this year, seven percent more than 2016. "I think that it is overly optimistic," he says. He calculates that planted burley acreage in the state will be similar to last year.

In Tennessee planting is also just getting started, with at most two percent set, says Eric Walker, Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist. Rains expected the middle and end of this week might slow things further. Farmers who manage to miss those rains can probably get started, he says. Others may have to wait for the ground to dry up.

In Georgia and Florida, the crop is completely transplanted except perhaps for some stragglers, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. "There is a little replanting going on," he says. It was extremely hot the last two weeks, with air and soil temperatures in the 80s, and the stems of many small plants dried at the soil line and fell over. That will probably take up every available plant in the two states, says Moore. "But I think we will get planted everything the farmers intended."

Well under five percent of the Georgia-Florida flue cured crop is showing symptoms of tomato spotted wilt which is less than was expected, considering the warm winter and abundance of rain. "Our growers were intense in their use of Actigard and imidacloprid," says Moore. "That probably was a factor." But TSWV could still appear. "We can't be sure we have dodged that bullet," he says.

In South Carolina, the Pee Dee got plenty of rain in late April, but it was not a big problem. Since the area had been dry, the rain was welcome and benefited crops. Transplants are starting to take root nicely.

In North Carolina, 38 percent of the flue-cured crop had been transplanted by May 1. But progress varied widely between individual counties. Approximately 70 percent of the tobacco crop had been set before the rain event in Lee County, says Extension agent Zachary Taylor. "Leaching adjustments will be needed. Weed control will be a concern as many PRE herbicides have likely leached"...In Craven County, only a small per- centage of tobacco had been transplanted, so the impact was small, says Extension agent Mike Carroll.

In Virginia, only three percent of the state flue-cured crop had been transplanted by May 1, according to NASS. About one percent each of the burley and fire-cured had been transplanted...In Brunswick County, the heavy rain last week slowed down planting and left standing water in ditches and fields, says County Extension agent Cynthia Gregg. "Some producers were able to get back to planting tobacco, and others started planting tobacco this weekend."

In other tobacco news:

When making a leaching adjustment, consider using fertilizer sources absent of phosphorus, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "Phosphorus is not very leachable in the soil profile," he says. "Therefore it is likely that the nutrient is still in place.  This will reduce the cost of having to re-apply nutrients."

Brazil's 2017 flue-cured crop will apparently be roughly 50 percent larger than the short 2016 crop, approximately 1,300 million pounds to 900 million pounds. "Current quality appears to be good and in line with expectations," says Peter Sikkel, chief executive officer of Alliance One International. "We are expecting similar positive crop size increases in other key markets."