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."