Friday, May 29, 2020


No-tillage is playing a bigger part in burley production. Improved conservation and reduction of trips across the field are two of the reasons. A special transplanter is needed, like the C&M Trium shown here.


In Georgia and Florida, the crop is off to a good start and looks better than average, says Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. Not only that, the level of tomato spotted wilt is low. Some farmers are beginning to make their last cultivation. Moore thinks around 8,000 acres have been planted in Georgia. "We lost a few farmers, and some of those who remained cut back. At this point, it looks like it might be a smaller crop, but not significantly smaller." All has been the field for several weeks.

In South Carolina, on the other hand, things haven't gone nearly as well. "Rain put a hurting on us," says Matt Inman, S.C. Extension specialist. "We had seven inches of rain at the Pee Dee station from Monday through Tuesday of last week, then had 2.5 more on Friday and Saturday." There was some drowning and some flopped plants, and there's been a little more tomato spotted wilt than expected, maybe five to six percent of plants. "We haven't had a good start." Acres? There was some attrition among Palmetto State growers as there was in Georgia, but plantings don't appear to have been drastically reduced. "I would estimate 7,000 to 7,500 acres," says Inman. Planting has been complete for some time.

In other tobacco states, according to USDA's Crop Progress Reports:

In North Carolina, flue-cured planting in N.C. was 89 percent com-plete. In Franklin, Halifax and Nash Counties in the northeast, the
planting season had been hit by very cool, wet conditions. To-bacco was just sitting still till farmers could get in the field to plow the crusted, water logged soil. In Cumberland and Robeson Counties in the southeast, windy conditions have deteriorated small plants, but it appears most resetting has been completed. Excessive rainfall amounts have caused lots of standing water in fields. In Virginia, about 63 percent of the flue-cured and 43 percent of the fire-cured crop had been transplanted.

In western North Carolina, planting of the small burley crop was 21 percent complete. In Ashe, Watauga and McDowell Counties, six to 10 inches of rain fell last week. Substantial flooding and excess soil moisture have impacted tobacco. In Tennessee, farmers in the central part of the state were waiting for a break in the rains. Setting of tobacco was limited. In the east, despite warmer temperatures, wet conditions brought most field activities to a halt. In Virginia, about 33 percent of the burley has been transplanted. In Kentucky, farmers continue to make headway with planting, but wet conditions have hampered progress at times. Only 17 percent of the crop has been set out so far, half of the five-year average. Producers need successive days of dry weather to push through with getting tobacco in the ground. Rainfall was heavy at times in Kentucky, and there were reports of flooding and crop damage in areas of the state. Tobacco setting made up some ground after very little progress was reported last week. The damage from the very unseasonable freeze and accompanying cold weather on May 9 is still to be reported but it is not expected to be extensive since so little of the crop had been set by that time.

In other news: 

Was your GAP meeting cancelled? Thanks to the COVID-19 measures, many GAP meetings were. As an alternative, GAP Connections has set up an online option to receive GAP Training for this year. Note: It must 
be completed by June 30 for you to participate in the GAP Connections Cer-tification Program. Login to GAP Connections and find the link for Online Training on the Grower Dashboard. Watch the two videos prov-ided and complete the quiz afterward. A 100 percent score on the quiz is re-quired. Once that is achieved, a record is placed on your Grower Training Report. To confirm, go back to the Grower Dashboard or click Menu in the upper right hand corner and navigate to Training. It may take up to 24 hours for Training to show. Questions? Please call GAPC at (865) 622-4606.

Sunday, May 3, 2020


Setting plants near Rocky Mount, N.C. File photo by the editor.

How much of the N.C. crop has been planted? "If I had to guess, I would say we have 15 to 20 percent planted by now," says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "Maybe 25 percent at the most. Compared to any other year, we are well behind." 

Mother Nature has not been friendly to North Carolinians this season. "This crop was seeded much later than normal, then we had the worst greenhouse season in my 10 years in North Carolina," says Vann. "Once we were ready to set out, it seemed like we had a big weather event every week, and our soils remained saturated. If we can catch a week with good dry weather and moderate temperatures, we can catch up soon."

At least 75 per-cent of the flue-cured crop in South Carolina has been planted, much of it in the week just ended. Weather hasn't been favorable here either. But in the three weeks just ended, heavy planting has been going on, says Matthew Inman, S.C. Extension tobacco specialist.
In Georgia, as of April 27, essentially all of the crop was transplanted. "Only about 350 acres are left," said J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist.  "However, this [acreage] belongs to a limited number of growers, and it may take until May 4 to complete the process."
Tomato spotted wilt is running only three to four percent of the Georgia stand, Moore says. All the crop was treated with Admire Pro and approximately 40 percent was also treated with an Actigard tray drench in the greenhouse.  No other pest problems have been reported.
Connecticut broadleaf picks up in popularity in Kentucky and Tennessee: After an apparently rewarding test crop in 2019, farmers in the Black Patch are planting significantly more Connecticut broadleaf this season. "There could be 2,500 acres or more grown in Kentucky and Tennessee this year," says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist for Kentucky and Tennessee. 

You really need to produce wrapper grades with this type. "Broadleaf that earned a wrapper grade last year sold for $4 to $6 per pound," says Bailey. "But for leaf that doesn't get a wrapper grade, the price offered is less than for burley."

Slightly earlier than normal start for K-T transplanting: Transplanting in the Black Patch typically doesn't begin till May 1, but a little was planted early this season, says Bailey. "For instance, one grower in Logan County, Ky., was able to set out nine acres last Tuesday (April 28), and he wanted to plant some more on Friday."

But the dark that was planted in April made up less than one percent of the crop, Bailey says. Planting will get started in earnest next week and especially the week from May 11 to 18. "Much of the dark-fired crop is double cropped--an early crop is set in early-to mid-May and a late crop is set in mid-June so that both crops can be cured back to back in the same barn."

The dark types took a beating in contracting. US Smokeless Tobacco cut contracts drastically, with dark fire-cured reduced 45 percent and dark air-cured 48 percent. American Snuff, the number two buyer of the dark types, was reportedly unchanged in its contract. Bailey estimates dark fired plantings at 12,000 acres and dark air plantings at four to 5,000 acres. 

About 11 percent of Kentucky's burley greenhouses remained to be seeded as of April 26, USDA said. Thirty-seven percent of transplants were under two inches, with 44 percent two to four inches, and 19 percent above four inches. Little if any had been taken to the field.
Cancelled: NC State's Tobacco Field Day for 2020 has fallen victim to COVID-19
ZIMBABWE: Tobacco sales here began last week after a month-long delay due to a general lockdown ordered by the government to contain the COVID-19 virus. The lockdown continues, but tobacco marketing has been exempted on condition that everyone involved observes recommendations to reduce infections. One suggestion: The national agriculture minister proposed restructuring deliveries to the floors to minimize the number of the human traffic coming to the markets and to reduce transport costs paid by the farmer.

Fewer growers: The Zimbabwean Tobacco Industry Marketing Board reported that the number of registered growers is 148,084 this year compared to 178,721 in 2019. Plantings are estimated down 12 percent, from 133,000 hectares in the 2019 season to to 117,000 for the current season.