Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Working young tobacco: A burley grower supervises field work on a small farm in Harrison County,Ky. File photo by Chris Bickers.


Kentucky tobacco looks good early: Topping will probably start on burley by the first of July, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "A few may start sooner. There are no issues in the field so far. I would say at least 70 percent is planted, and we are in good shape to get the rest planted soon." He has seen no major shortage of plants, he says. 
In Tennessee, 80 percent has been transplanted. In Virginia, 96 percent of the burley, and in North Carolina, burley is 74 percent set. In Yancey County in western N.C., soil conditions had been very wet at the beginning of the week ending the 16th because of the heavy rains the week before, but conditions improved enough by mid week to allow some field work.


In Virginia, flue-cured is 98 percent set in the field. Continued rain has added to the existing moderate flooding In Brunswick County in the southeast part pf the state. Several roads were closed. Some ponding occurred in fields. In  Appomattox County in central Virginia, it had been dry, so rain fall last week came as a relief. Hard dry soil had been a problem, but after the rain, tobacco farmers were able to walk and replant later-planted fields as needed. So stands should be good.

In South Carolina, Horry County in the Pee Dee received much needed rain over the weekend. The tobacco crop, which had been suffering from drought, showed improvement going forward. The crop is completely set out, and more than 30 percent has been topped. 

In neighboring Georgia, an estimated 22 percent has been topped.
In North Carolina, flue-cured got off to a fast start in the Old Belt. Around Winston-Salem, N.C., planting is for all practical purposes complete, and much of the crop is a little ahead of schedule. "A lot of it is laid by already," says Dennis White, owner of Old Belt Tobacco Sales auction warehouse in Rural Hall, N.C., north of Winston. "Usually we don't expect that till the Fourth of July. There are a few who may start pulling the second week of July."

in other tobacco news

A few Piedmont growers quit after last season, says White. "But those who stayed in tobacco look to have planted about the same acreage as last year."
Burley planting on nontraditional farms in the Piedmont seems to have nearly disappeared, says White. "We have sold some burley at our auction in the past, but I don't know if there will be any to sell this year."

One more opinion on H2A workers in burley: Mark Turner of Livermore, Ky., began using guest workers to grow burley and dark air-cured tobacco six years ago and says it has proved a godsend. "It is expensive to bring in H2A workers, but I think it is still cheaper than relying on local labor," he says. "With H2As, you know you will have enough help to get your crop harvested in a timely manner." There is a definite price to not getting things done when they need to be done, says Turner, "and that happens when you depend on local help."

July 22, 8:30 a.m. N.C. Organic Commodities Field Day. Till 12:30 p.m., followed by lunch. Cunningham Research Station, Kinston, 200 Cunningham Rd., Kinston, N.C.

July 23, 9 a.m. Tobacco Tour-Field Day, Upper Coastal Plain Research, 2811 Nobles Mill Pond Rd., Rocky Mount, N.C. Ends approximately 3 p.m.

August 13 9 a.m. The Kentucky Burley Tobacco Industry Tour will be held at the University of Kentucky Spindletop Research Farm in Lexington. It will end about 3 p.m. Note: The event will last one day only.

Safety and compliance: GAP Connections will host 11 Farm Safety & Compliance Training Events this summer. The free training events are presented in English and Spanish. Attendees will rotate through interactive stations as they learn about safety and compliance topics required by the GAP Program. There will also be an opportunity to earn CPR & AED certification during the events at a registration fee of $25. You must pre-register. Visit www.gapconnections.com or call GAP Connections at (865) 622-4606. Dates and places appear below.
GAP Farm Safety & Compliance Events:

  • June 18, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. & 2-5 p.m. Rest-A-Bit Farm, Pinetops, NC.
  • June 20, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. & 2-5 p.m. Lasley Family Farm, Ruffin, NC.
  • July 9, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Garden Spot Fire Rescue, New Holland, PA.
  • July 11, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Ferrell Farm, Wylliesburg, VA.
  • August 5, 5-8 p.m. Danville Tobacco Services, Danville, KY.
  • August 7, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. & 2- 5 p.m. Breckinridge County Extension Office, Hardinsburg, KY.
  • August 9, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. & 2-5 p.m. Gallatin Redrying & Handling, Gallatin, TN.
 GAP annual training events: 

  • Jun 20, 9 a.m. Blackstone, VA
  • Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019


First to top in 2019? Kenneth Dasher of Live Oak, Fl., used a mechanical topper on his flue-cured last Thursday. He sent in a hand crew to finish cleaning it up Saturday.

Harvest just ahead: "It looks like we will begin harvesting in about two weeks," says flue-cured grower Kenneth Dasher of Live Oak, Fl. "Some other farmers around here may start sooner." The big problem so far has been the intense heat. "We had four days in a row when it got to 100 degrees or above," Dasher says. "We have had to put a lot of water to it." But so far, he hasn't had much sun scald.

In Georgia, the crop is completely set, and one per cent has been topped. Even  irrigated fields in some counties are struggling due to too many pivots being on the same pump. "Many of these were not being turned off in an attempt to keep up with the demands of the crop," says Seth McAllister, Terrell County Extension agent.

In South Carolina, planting is complete and topping ready to begin shortly. In Horry County, the leading tobacco county, some much-needed rain was received last week, says Rusty Skipper, Extension agent. "But it could be too little too late for some corn crops in the eastern part of the county," he says.

Most flue-cured in North Carolina looks good at this point, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. There has been some hail to go along with   high temperatures, but with good weather from here on, the damage could be incon-sequential. It was so dry early that one can reasonably expect heal-thy root systems. It wasn't till the last week of May that rain began to fall. "Much of the crop will soon be ready for layby, and a few growers have already started," he says. "First contact appli-cations of sucker control chemicals will probably begin around the end of June in the Border Belt."

In Virginia, 88 percent of the flue-cured has been transplanted, 77 percent of the fire-cured has been transplanted and 71 percent of the burley has been transplanted, according to USDA. In Appomattox County, where all three types are grown, wet weather has delayed tobacco transplanting and the cultivation of already transplanted tobacco, says Bruce Jones, Extension agent. "We have experienced extremely wet soil conditions for the past seven days." Tobacco plants still in the greenhouses are holding reasonably well, he says.

In Tennessee, 39 percent of the burley had been transplanted. In Cheatham County, just west of Nashville, a little rain fell on June 30. "We were getting a little dry," says Extension agent Ron Barron. "Most all of the early tobacco has been set, due to two previous weeks of dry weather."

In Kentucky, transplanting was 49 percent complete. That is well behind the 57 percent completed by this date a year ago. Fieldwork was interrupted at times by heavy rain, which in some cases led to standing water in low lying areas, says USDA. Despite the adverse conditions, farmers were able to make planting progress last week.

A new cigarette containing no leaf other than flue-cured--The U.S. [Flue-Cured] Tobacco Cooperative has announced that it will soon launch a new super-premium cigarette made entirely of leaf grown by its grower members. Called Manitou, it will be a cigarette of the "Virginia" or "British" type, meaning it will contain only flue-cured tobacco (and water). Virtually all other American cigarette brands are made using a blend of flue-cured, burley and oriental tobaccos. Called the "American" blend, it has been the dominant U.S. type since soon after Richard Joshua Reynolds introduced it in the Camel brand in 1914. Before that, the "British" blend was the market leader in this country.

Manitou packaging

Manitou will be marketed by USTC's consumer products division, Premier Manufacturing of Chesterfield, Mo. Some observers have suggested that Manitou will compete with Natural American Spirit cigarettes, which are thought to contain a high percentage of flue-cured. It was not apparent from a USTC statement if Manitou will be manufactured in the cooperative's factory in Timberlake, N.C.

What does Manitou mean? It is a Native American word referring to the primitive life force in all of us.


July 22, 8:30 a.m. N.C. Organic Commodities Field Day. Till 12:30 p.m., followed by lunch. Cunningham Research Station, Kinston, 200 Cunningham Rd., Kinston, N.C.

July 23, 9 a.m. Tobacco Tour-Field Day, Upper Coastal Plain Research, 2811 Nobles Mill Pond Rd., Rocky Mount, N.C. Ends approximately 3 p.m.

GAP training events: 
  • Jun 12, 9 a.m. Lancaster, PA.
  • Jun 25, 5 p.m. Hopkinsville, KY.