A clipped seedling ready for transplanting, shown in a greenhouse in Florida. Photo courtesy of Speedling Inc.
Three states have reported significant plantings so far:
FLORIDA--Virtually all the tobacco in this state has been transplanted. Some has been in the field for as much as a month and is growing well, says J. Michael Moore, Extension specialist.
GEORGIA--Transplanting continued this week except where the most rain fell, says Moore. So far, most of the tobacco was transplanted during the week before Easter. With good weather expected the rest of this week, the majority of the Georgia tobacco crop should be transplanted by Saturday night.
SOUTH CAROLINA--Four percent of the flue-cured crop had been planted by April 12, USDA reported.
In other tobacco news:
Plants have done well in the greenhouse in Kentucky, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "There has been a little problem with dry cells, but no major issues. I would say we are about two weeks from transplanting." There was a lot of disappointment in the dismal prices offered at the market last season, he says. "Our quality was not our best because of the weather, and the market reflected it." The recent USDA estimate of 37,000 acres in Kentucky in 2020 may be too high.
From co-pack to premix: Orondis Gold is now sold as a premix formulation for black shank control, rather than as a co-pack of a container of Orondis and a container of Ridomil Gold SL mixed as the co-pack was added to the transplant water. This eliminates the need to measure the two materials separately.
Best use of Command 3ME? After transplanting, over the transplants and before grass seeds germinate, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. "An application of two to 2.60 pints per acre helps reduce grass establishment between the plants in the drill." Some growers incorporate the Command. Don't do it. "This dilutes and buries the material too deeply in the soil and control is reduced," says Moore.
Use Poast early while the grass you're trying to control is small and while the application can be made directly to the grass, says Moore. "Control of older and larger grass is much less effective." Rates are one to-1.5 pints an acre with the addition of a non-ionic surfactant.
Managing labor in a pandemic---One good idea from GAP Con-nections--Prepare a disaster contin-gency plan. "What will you do if 50 percent of your employees get sick and unable to work? Are there nearby farms who might be able to share resources in an emergency? Who will manage for a few weeks if you or another key manager are unable to leave your house or are hospitalized?"
Communicate with your workforce. "COVID-19 is very fluid and changes rapidly. It is important to stay informed about local, state and federal guidelines, restrictions and rules."Regular communication with your workforce will make sure that they are informed also to help protect their health, their work and their families.
African markets uncertain: Both Zimbabwe and Malawi tobacco markets should be at full throttle now, but they have been placed on hold by COVID 19 regulations. It is much to be wondered if auctions can be conducted at all in Zim-
babwe if "social distancing" is in effect. "It's inevitable there would be disruption to the marketing season, which relies on physical interaction between farmers and buyers at various auctions," said economist Victor Bhoroma to the East African
newspaper of Kenya.
Price may decline: "The price [in Zimbabwe] for the golden leaf may slump this season further from the average $2.03 per kilo for the 2019 season," said Bhoroma, pointing to the decline in global leaf consumption. "This will have dire consequences to the whole economy."
A greenhouse in Florida. The variety is NC 196 flue-cured. Photo courtesy of Speedling Inc.
COULD ACREAGE BE DOWN ONLY 11%? USDA issued its Prospective Plantings report for 2020 on the last day of March and it predicts that planted acreage of tobacco will decrease once again this year. After 227 thousand acres of all types in 2019, the prediction is that 201 thousand will be planted in 2020, down 11 percent. If realized, this would be the lowest tobacco acreage on record. Among the individual types, flue-cured is projected down 13 percent, burley down eight percent, the dark types down 11 and six percent and Southern Maryland down a whopping 60 percent. The only type that is projected to increase in plantings is Pennsylvania seedleaf, up 27 percent.
Projections by type and state, including increase or decrease in a percentage basis.
North Carolina: 100,000 acres, down 15 percent.
Virginia: 14,000 acres, down seven percent.
Georgia: 9,000 acres, no change.
South Carolina: 7,500 acres, down 10 percent.
All U.S.: 130,500 acres, down 13 percent.
Kentucky: 37,000 acres, down 10 percent.
Tennessee: 4,000 acres, no change.
Pennsylvania: 2,500 acres, no change.
Virginia: 700 acres, no change.
North Carolina: 300 acres, down 25 percent.
All U.S: 44,500 acres, down eight percent.
Fire-cured: 14,300 acres, down 11 percent.
Dark air-cured: 9,300 acres, down six percent.
Pennsylvania Seedleaf: 2,800 acres, up 27 percent.
Southern Maryland: 400 acres, down 60 percent.
All types: 201,800 acres, down 11 percent.
Other tobacco news:
How to manage workers in the Coronavirus era: The key points for dealing with labor while in the current situation:
It is safer for the worker to stay on the farm.
To the extent possible, keep workers from congregating at stores or other places.
Encourage workers from different housing to stay with their housemates.
Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and seek medical attention if anyone on your farm displays them.
Sale on surplus seedlings: Speed-ling Inc will have plants of several flue-cured varie-ties, including K 326, NC 196, and NC 1226. All are being grown in Florida. Call Sales Rep Mark Gabr-ick at 813 767 0381 for more infor-mation.
A good start on plants in western Kentucky: Shiny McLimore, who produces commercial plants in Owensboro and Stanley, Ky., told Tobacco Farmer Newsletter."My plants have emerged and look pretty good in the greenhouse. And that's what I am hearing from everyone else who grows plants."
McLimore started seeding the second day of March and finished on the 28th "I anticipate my first plants will be coming off around the 10th of May," he says.
Orders for dark plants were way down because of the large reduction in contracting. But that was partially offset by orders for wrapper leaf. "Five of my growers have gotten into growing wrapper leaf of either of the Connecticut or Pennsylvania type," McLimore says. Orders for burley plants were similar to last year. Note: McLimore can be reached at 270 925 0870.
A casualty of Coronavirus: One of McLimore's customers, who'd been a large-scale burley grower in the past, canceled his plant order after it had already been seeded. He was willing to take the loss because he didn't want to take a chance on damaging the health of his workers or family.
Let's hope this initiative bears fruit: A subsidiary of British American Tobacco, Kentucky BioProcessing, Owensboro, Ky., says it is developing a potential vaccine for COVID-19 that is now in pre-clinical testing. BAT is hopeful that between one and three million doses of the vaccine could be manufactured per week, beginning in June. While Kentucky BioProcessing will remain a commercial operation, its work relating to the COVID-19 vaccine project will be carried out on a not-for-profit basis. The vaccine in de-velopment uses BAT's propri-etary, tobacco plant technology. TFN will have more on this development in future issues.