Monday, April 22, 2019


A transplanting crew on a burley farm in Ohio prepares to go back in the field after reloading plants in this file photo by Chris Bickers.
Seeding in western Kentucky was held up in some greenhouses by a cold snap in March. "I delayed seeding until eight says after I meant to start because of those colder temperatures," says Shiny McLimore who produces commercial plants in Owensboro (Stanley), Ky. "We have had a number of warm nights since then, and now my plants are growing ahead of schedule. They are as big as if not bigger than neighbors who seeded earlier."

Weather definitely affects germination in the greenhouse, according to the N.C. Extension tobacco team. Cool, cloudy conditions of the type reported in Kentucky in March can delay germination. But unseasonably warm temperatures in February and March can increase the rate of plant growth, causing problems with stem and root diseases, particularly if the seeds are planted in the greenhouse too early. Consult weather forecasts before seeding.

Following: Field dispatches through mid-April 
(From NASS Crop Progress and Condition Report)

In Georgia, growers had planted 46 percent of the crop by mid-month while in South Carolina growers had planted five percent. Georgetown County, S.C., farmers began setting the week ending April 14, said Kyle Daniel, Extension agent. Heavy rain the week before slowed progress for a few days. In North Carolina, wet conditions continued. Significant acreage had not been fumigated, said Don Nicholson, N.C. Agriculture Department agronomist in central N.C. "Others are planning to begin trans-planting as conditions dry." In Virginia, planting was for the most part still in the future. But in Greensville County, Extension agent Sara Rutherford said beds were being prepared. Liming and fertilizing continue as the weather allows."
In Kentucky, intermittent rain continued to stymie progress of finishing field work, according to NASS. Three quarters of the crop was seeded in the greenhouse by April 14. Of that, seventy five percent of the transplants were under two inches, with 22 percent two to four inches, and three percent above four inches. Transplants were report-ed as in mostly fair to good condition. In Tennessee,  some sunshine and warmer temperatures have made things look better, said A. Ruth Correll, Wilson County Extension Service. "This has allowed field work for crops along with lots of spraying and fertilization projects."

Planting projections too high? 
I've received several comments from some members who believe the USDA projections were too high. "I believe that the number of acres of flue-cured will possibly be much less than USDA is estimating," said grower Tim Yarbrough of Prospect Hill, N.C. "Tobacco seed companies have said that their sales were down 35 percent to 40 percent. I think we may be looking at 125,000- to 130,000-acre crop." USDA projected 165,000 acres of flue-cured, 17 percent less than 2018; and 53,800 acres for burley, down 12 percent. 


Zimbabwe market not improving. Through April 4,the eighteenth day of marketing, a total of 12.3 million kilograms of tobacco, mostly flue-cured, had been sold on the auction and contract markets in Zimbabwe. That was 62 percent less than had been sold at the same point in last year's sales. The price too was way off from last year: US$1.72 per kilogram so far compared to $2.76 per kilogram. Severe drought conditions during the season lead to an expected drop in production. Quality was apparently significantly lowered also.

Disaffection among farmers may be part of the reason for the low level of deliveries. Shadreck Makombe, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union, told NewsDay of Zimbabwe some farmers were holding their tobacco in hopes of better prices. "The opening prices were low, and they demotivated farmers," he said. "The buyer is saying this year's quality is lower than last year. But as farmers we are saying the quality is good. It seems they [buyers] don't have money."

The basics of hemp production, Part 3: Variety selection will be the key to success for industrial hemp in the south. One of the most important consideration is days to maturity. Varieties bred primarily for grain production could have significantly different maturity dates relative to each other and would have very different establishment dates for maximum yields and harvestability with standard equipment. Research varieties based on what you want to harvest--fiber, grain/fiber or cannabinoids--then choose varieties that are proven performers..--Derived from writings of D.W. Williams, Plant and Soil Sciences, and Rich Mundell, Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center.


GAP training events:
  • Apr 23, 6:30 p.m. Owenton, KY.
  • Apr 26, 9 a.m. Lawrenceburg, TN.
  • Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY.


Monday, April 1, 2019


Prepping for the season: Rod Kuegel of Owensboro, Ky., (left) and son his son Clay load sticks on pallets back in mid January to have them ready for the harvest season.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture published its annual Prospective Planting Report, and the estimates for tobacco plantings in the United States are disturbing. Based on surveys of farmers conducted during the first two weeks of March, the report projects that tobacco plantings of all types in 2019 are expected to total 244,040 acres, down 16 percent from 2018. If realized, this would be the lowest tobacco acres harvested on record. For the individual types:·
  • Flue-cured--165,000 acres, 17 percent below 2018. 
  • Burley--53,800 acres, down 12 percent from last year. 
  • Fire-cured--14,740 acres, down 22 percent from 2018. 
  • Dark air-cured--6,900 acres, down 30 percent from last year. 
  • Cigar filler--2,200 acres, down eight percent from the previous year.
  • Southern Maryland--1,400 acres, no change from 2018.
Why dark is more appealing than burley: Rod Kuegel, a burley and dark air-cured grower near Owensboro, Ky., says he will maintain his tobacco plantings (both types) at 80 acres, the same acreage he had last season. But he had to think seriously about growing burley at all because of poor market prospects. "Dark is more profitable now. And the communications between the farmer and the dark company is better than with burley companies. I really think if it weren't for my foreign workers, I would switch to all dark," he says.

The basics of hemp production, Part 2: How to plant hemp: It appears that industrial hemp seed is quite sensitive to a lack of soil moisture at planting. Seed should be planted in soils with adequate moisture to encourage rapid germination. If soil moisture is inadequate for industrial hemp germination, it is likely still adequate to support the germination of many weed seeds. Without the availability of labeled herbicides for industrial hemp production, we rely heavily on rapid hemp canopy development and closure to reduce or eliminate competition from weeds. Adequate soil temperature (>/=50oF) and moisture at planting will help accomplish this.--Derived from writings of D.W. Williams, Plant and Soil Sciences, and Rich Mundell, Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center.Hemp

International tobacco report

Zimbabwe: There will be no bumper crop in Zimbabwe. Tobacco was damaged by an extensive drought and then by the well-publicized African cyclone Idai. The loss in production has been variously estimated as five percent or as much as 13 percent this year, industry sources said. That would place production at 485 million to 529 million pounds, both figures lower than the 555 million pounds that were grown in 2018. The auction markets opened on March 20 to lackluster prices.

Malawi: The market opening has not been set. An industry survey projected burley production at just under 450 million pounds, or just slightly more than in 2018. Malawians growers didn't suffer nearly as much from drought and the cyclone as their Zimbabwean neighbors.
Canada: Most greenhouses in Canada's production area in southern Ontario have been seeded, says Mitchell Richmond, Team Leader for the Canadian Tobacco Research Foundation.  In a post on tobacco, he goes on to say, "As the seed germinates and seedlings grow, pests, fertility and contamination due to drifting of pesticides may arise and affect the crop. Algae, black root rot, Pythium damping-off and Rhizoctonia damping-off are highly controlled when trays have been cleaned and steam sterilized at 80ºC (176ºF) for 60 minutes, and when beds are adequately steamed at 82ºC (180ºF) for 30 minutes at a 15 cm depth." For some pests in float trays, chemical control is not available. "Therefore, steam treatment is essential," says Richmond.

Awards for 2019: 

The Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. conferred six awards for 2019: Outstanding Director:  Jeffrey Lee of Johnston County; Farm Family of the Year: Pace Family Farms of Johnston County. Lifetime Member: Steve Troxler, North Carolina agriculture com-missioner. Extension Service Award: Rod Gurganus of Beaufort County; Distinguished Service: Larry Boyd, Foxfire Farms, Pinetown, N.C., and Lee Wicker, deputy director of the North Carolina Growers Association.
The Tobacco Farm Life Museum of Kenly, N.C. conferred two farmer awards for 2019:   Excellence in Agriculture:  Pender Sharp, Sharp Farms, Sims, N.C., and Innovative Young Farmer of the Year: Joshua Phillips, Son Light Farms. Kenly, N.C.

Last GAP train-ing events of the season: 
Wed Apr 3, 10:30 a.m. Alma, GA
Apr 4, 6:30 p.m. Weston, MO
Apr 11, 6 p.m. Bedford, KY
Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY