Streptomycin resistance in the Black Patch: Angular leaf spot on dark tobacco is developing resistance to agricultural streptomycin, essentially the only control measure for the foliar disease. An estimated 25 percent of the angular leaf spot in this area has some level of resistance, says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist for Kentucky and Tennessee. Planting dark varieties with some resistance to wildfire could help: Spread of angular leaf spot seems to be a little slower in them.
More bad news on contracting volume: U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, the flue-cured cooperative in Raleigh, N.C., has now cut its contracts 80 percent across the board for 2019. USTC's leading customer is China, and it took a hit when the Chinese elected not to buy any tobacco from the 2018 crop after the Trump tariffs. Look for more details on this situation in the next issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter.
Goodbye to a bad year:The 2018 burley season is finally over, and most growers are glad to see it end, says Steve Pratt, general manager of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association. "Due to heavy rainfall, the burley tobacco crop last year has been predicted to be the lowest
production on record since records have been kept,” he says. “Planning for the
2019 crop has started with lots of hope this season will only get better.”
But the market outlook is problematic. "The demand for U.S. burley continues to decline each year as smoking numbers go down and cigarette manufacturers maintain their use of imported burley tobacco," says Pratt. "There continues to be a need for U.S. burley, but growers may have to adapt to new methods to meet those requirements. That could mean growing less tobacco with improved yields and greater efficiency."
For dark tobacco growers, contract volume is definitely down. "Even though we had a good crop in 2018, the cut in acreage appears substantial," says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist for Kentucky and Tennessee. "A lot of farmers are getting cuts in the 10 to 20 percent range. I have heard of a few who have gotten 100 percent cuts, particularly with dark air-cured tobacco."
How can that be when quality was better? "It wasn't the best crop we've ever had, but it was definitely above average. But very little overage was bought at any price by anyone," Bailey says. "The dark market depends on sales of snuff products, and the snuff market has been leveling off for the past couple of years."
There was the usual rush to seed before Valentine's Day in North Carolina, but much of the crop remains to be seeded, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. He advises a careful approach to seeding the rest. "The weather we have been having is not conducive to seeding. You need four or five days of good light quality for good germination. The outlook for that is not good, at least not here in Raleigh."
By the way, angular leaf spot is rarely seen in flue-cured in North Carolina, Vann says. "Usually, we [only] see it following a late-season tropical storm."
DATES TO REMEMBER
GAP GROWER TRAINING EVENTS
Check with your local Extension Service office for further details. All meetings listed here are free and presented in English. Eastern Time except where indicated.
A farmer examines the new DeCloet transplanter at the Southern Farm Show on February 1.
There was a falloff in the number of farmers at the Southern Farm Show in Raleigh, but for those who made it, there was some up-to-date new tobacco equipment that attracted a lot of attention. Chief among them were several foreign-made setters. One of them, the Carousel Planter from DeCloet-Italy (shown above) features an independent drive wheel for each row or one drive wheel for two rows. DeCloet also has a bare root planter and perforating planter (for use on plastic), along with a full line of tobacco equipment. Go to www.de-cloet.it for more information...The Spapperi Monodrive Avant transplanter features a very flexible watering system that allows you to get plenty of water under the plant. Also, if you are driving on a narrow road, you can pull in the outside units hydraulically with this transplanter, making it easier to get up and down the road. Farmer Todd Harton of Cadiz, Ky., is the U.S. sales representative for Spapperi, which also has a full line of tobacco equipment. See its website at www.spapperi.com.
Could hemp be a boon for burley farmers? "It won't be grown on every single tobacco farm in the area," says Darrell Varner of Versailles, Ky., a farmer and president of the Council for Burley Tobacco. "But I think where you will see hemp planted, at least in the foreseeable future, is as an additional crop on tobacco farms. It will give burley farmers another option. With the way things are going, we may very well need a crop like hemp to diversify tobacco farms." Varner spoke to TFN during the January board meeting of the Council in Owensboro.
Grower numbers continue to increase in Zimbabwe: Registrations to grow leaf in 2019 have now reached 169,772; that is 46 percent more than the season just ending,
said the [Zimbabwe] Tobacco Industry & Marketing Board. Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Paul Zakariya said last week that harvest of the irrigated crop is well along. But the rain-fed crop is behind due to the delayed onset of rain in most tobacco regions. "Increasing costs of production continue to affect tobacco farmers," he added. "The increase in the cost of agrochemicals, fuel and labor is burdening tobacco farmers."
Source water testing by the N.C. Department of Agriculture can get your plant production off to a good start. "Alkalinity, pH, sodium and chloride issues are the most common water quality problems we see with float-bed source water," said Kristin Hicks of the Agronomic Services Division. "The results from testing and making adjustments can be quite significant." Also, after you have mixed fertilizers into the bays, send in a sample of your nutrient solution to verify that target nutrient concentrations have been achieved. To collect a sample, use a clean, plastic bottle.
For source water-Before sampling, run water five to 10 minutes and collect sample from the tap or emitter. Use the "ST" code for source water.
For nutrient solutions- Make sure fertilizer has been thoroughly mixed and is completely dissolved. Collect the sample from the emitter (not the stock tank). Use the "NT" code for nutrient solutions. Specify if you are using an organic nutrient solution.
Label each sample with a sample ID and fill out the Solution Analysis Information form, available from county Extension offices or the Agronomic Division website at http// www.ncagr.gov/
agronomi/pdffiles/issoln.pdf. Cost is $5 for North Carolina residents, $25 for samples from outside the state. Mail to the NCDA&CS Agronomic Services Solutions Section at either 1040 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699 or 4300 Reedy Creek Rd, Raleigh NC 27607.
DATES TO REMEMBER
GAP GROWER TRAINING EVENTS
Check with your local Extension Service office for further details. All meetings listed here are free and presented in English. Note to readers: Corrections welcome.