Monday, May 20, 2019



The flue-cured in the Deep South looked good
a week ago, as in this north Florida field 
(above).But intense heat caused some 
sun scald (right, in south Georgia)to 
set in."About the only thing 
to do about it is to irrigate to make sure soil 
moisture meets the needs of the plants," 
says J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist.

A wave of 90-degree temperatures has struck tobacco in Georgia and Florida, and they are expected to continue for the rest of this week. They could slow the good start the crop had gotten, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. "We had a beautiful crop a week ago, but now the soil moisture is beginning to be depleted." Farmers are seeing some sun scald. "About the only thing to do about it is to irrigate to make sure soil moisture meets the needs of the plants," Moore says.
When you cultivate in intense heat, try to disturb as little of the existing root system as you can, says Moore. There is a danger of breaking turgor, or aninterruption of the movement of water into the plant. Much of the Georgia crop will soon be ready for layby.
But Florida is farther along: At least one Floridi-an may be applying contact sucker control this week, Moore adds. "This farmer had planted the second week of March," he says.
On the bright side,  Geor-gia and Florida have suf-fered very low levels of tomato spotted wilt virus and low levels of budworm so far. "There have been no other appreciable insect or disease problems to this point," Moore says...Transplanting is complete in both states.
Reports from the field (from USDA Crop Progress and Condition surveys): 
  • South Carolina--Statewide, 95 percent of the crop was transplanted by May 12. In Horry County, tobacco is reportedly doing well for this time in the growing season.
  • North Carolina--Statewide, 79 percent of the flue-cured crop and 16 percent of the burley crop was transplanted. In Alamance County, transplantingmade great progress last week, but that will be slowed if it doesn't rain. Tobacco is doing well. But there have been a few reports of seedling disease or possible herbicide injury in a few fields. In Franklin County, plants look good in the field with no ma-jor issues. In Craven County, isolated ar-eas of tobacco farm-ers had to replant a few fields due to strong winds and rains. 
  • Virginia--Through May 12, 36 percent of the flue-cured crop had been transplanted, 17 percent of the fire-cured crop had been transplanted 17 and 13 percent of the burley crop had been transplanted. 
  • Kentucky--Seventeen percent of the crop had been transplanted through May 19. Supply of transplants were reportedly 92 percent adequate.
Editor's Note: A bit of hope. This may be wishful thinking, but I just can't help but think the trade war with China will be resolved by market opening. Both sides--but especially China--have too much to lose. Even if it is resolved, there is no telling if China would buy any of our leaf from this crop. But I feel like they would, since their go-to source of flue-cured, Zimbabwe, appears to have produced a short crop. The Chinese could go to Brazil, but I don't think they like the Brazili-an government any more than they like ours. Cigarette demand in the developed world, meanwhile, has continued to decline, but at a more or less predictable rate; I am not very good at numbers, but it seems to me that if China did come back on the U.S. market to any significant degree, there might not be any excess of tobacco to meet the resulting demand. If our leaf supplies are short but are of average or better quality, the market could be fairly strong. But a bumper crop and/or poor quality could scuttle that faint hope.


GAP training events:
  • Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY.

Saturday, May 4, 2019


Workers load trays on a transplanter on a flue-cured farm near Raeford, N.C., in this file photo by Chris Bickers.

In fact, transplanting in the Deep South is done. The last of the Georgia crop was transplanted by April 27, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. Florida's tobacco had gone in earlier. "We have had good weather generally," he says. "There weren't a lot of extra plants, but we had enough."

The earliest Georgia tobacco was planted around the end of March and it is growing well, but tobacco planted after that is growing slowly. It has been dry the last two weeks, and that may have suppressed tomato spotted wilt. 'There has been very little tomato spotted wilt so far, but we may see more once it starts raining," Moore said. He suspects planting will be down about 30 percent when all is said and done.

Growers  in   the  Coastal Plain of North Carolina are transplanting at full tilt. The fields that have been transplanted are about a week behind average in development. That's partly because some growers delayed seeding until they had a clear idea about the contracts that were going to be available to them. "It has only been in the last two weeks that the conditions for transplanting were good," says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist on May 3. "We had warm soil, warm temperatures and the soil was not saturated."

Now, the crop looks good, says Vann. The southern and central Coastal Plain is leading the pack, as you would expect. The Old Belt will begin planting in earnest next week." The greenhouse season went really well and there appears to be an ample supply of plants.

In South Caroli-na, farmers in Horry, the leading leaf county, has had favorable co-nditions for set-ting plants and are doing so at a fast pace, accor-ding to Rusty Skipper Extension agent. USDA estimated  transplanting was 27 percent complete for the state as of April 29.

Good weather is helping Kentucky growers get into the field. "We have had a little planting, but I doubt we are up to five percent yet," says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "So far, it has been the best  start to a season we've had in some time." He thinks plantings in Kentucky may be down 20 percent.

Growers in Virginia had just started transplanting through April 28. According to USDA, Virginia flue-cured was four percent transplanted and burley and fire-cured were two percent transplanted.

He may be in a minority, but Scott Travis of Cox's Creek, Ky., still uses small balers to bale his burley. "I have three," he says. "I bought one big baler, but it didn't work out for me."

To go entirely to big bales, Travis would have had to buy two more big balers (one for each grade) and modify his physical facilities for all three to fit. "All told, it would have cost $50,000," he says. "In this tobacco economy, that didn't make sense." Besides, it's a whole lot easier to control moisture in the small bales, he says.

He ran into resistance from tobacco companies to the small bales. He has bypassed that by selling his crop at auction, mostly at Farmers Warehouse in Danville, Ky.

Bailey bails out: The small independent cigarette manu-facturer S&M Brands Inc. of Keysville, Va., has ceased ope-rations. Its doors were closed in March after the company was sold to an unidentified buyer, according to newspaper reports. S&M has manufactured the discount brands Baileys, Tahoe and Riverside, among others, for the past 25 years. It was launched by tobacco growers Mac Bailey and his son Steven. The Baileys will retain--at least for the moment--their leaf dealer business Golden Leaf Tobacco Co. No word yet as to whether Golden Leaf will participate in any of the tobacco auctions. They will continue growing tobacco as has been a family tradition since the 1800s.

The basics of hemp production, Part 4: Industrial hemp seed is quite sensitive to lack of soil moisture at planting, and it could readily contribute to stand failures. So seed should be planted in soils with adequate moisture to encourage rapid germination. This also impacts weed control: Without the availability of labeled herbicides, you must rely heavily on rapid development and closure of the hemp canopy to reduce or eliminate weed competition. Adequate soil temperature (50oF) and moisture at planting will help accomplish this.--D.W. Williams, University of Kentucky, and Rich Mundell, Kentucky Tobacco R&D Center


GAP training events:
  • Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY