Mountainous achievement: The weather this spring was unfavorable for transplanting in much of the Tobacco Belt. Burley growers in the Appalachian mountains--like this crew near Marshall, N.C.--still had some planting to do near the end of June. File photo by Chris Bickers.
Since the rains began, flue-cured in N.C. has come back strong. Now, it might help if the precipitation pulled back. “We have had a tremendous amount of rain in eastern N.C.,” says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. “Most farmers there have had up to 10 inches in June, and some have had more than 20 inches. We may be heading for a new record for precipitation in June in this state.” The rain has been spottier in the Piedmont, but that region has had more than enough too. The crop is beautiful in the East and strong in the Piedmont, says Vann. But how much will it weigh? “Because of a transplant shortage in the spring and the water damage that we are facing, we have likely suffered some yield loss.”
Georgia: Tropical Storm Claudette brought rainfall and winds that helped improve conditions—48 percent of the crop had been topped by June 20, according to USDA.
South Carolina: Farmers from the Pee Dee region reported wet fields that hampered field work, including fungicide application. USDA estimated that 19 percent of the crop had been topped.
Virginia: Plantings in the Old Dominion were estimated by USDA at 95 percent complete for flue-cured.
BURLEY & DARK
Kentucky: Tobacco condition is mostly good with 89 percent of the crop set, says USDA…In Allen County, Ky., near Bowling Green, virtually all of this crop (all burley) had been planted by June 10, reports Kristi Gassaway, county executive director of FSA for Allen and Monroe Counties. It amounts to a little over 800 acres grown by 25 growers. That is about the same as in 2020. In neighboring Monroe County as of that date, between 35 and 40 percent had been planted. Approximately 2,821 acres of were expected to be planted, by 42 growers, same as in 2020.
North Carolina: USDA projected that 69 percent of the small N.C. burley crop had been transplanted by June 20. But an agronomist in the state said that figure was too low. He expected all plantings to be complete by June 30. Almost all the state’s burley is grown in the mountains of the west, and this area did not get the continuous rain that the eastern part of the state received in June.
Virginia: About eight percent of the burley crop remained to be planted as of June 20, according to USDA. Plantings of the small dark fire-cured crop were completed that week.
Tennessee: Plantings are nearly 100 percent complete, says Mitchell Richmond, Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist. “We will finish this week.” The late-planted burley looks a little better than the early-planted. There are no significant disease problems to this point. “There is a little tomato spotted wilt, and also some black shank, about what we would expect.” Where burley didn’t get too much rain, it is looking good so far.”
Connecticut broadleaf: Tennessee farmers continue to experiment with Connecticut broadleaf. “There is a good crop again this year though probably not as much as the thousand acres we had last year,” says Richmond. “We are still having growing pains with this type.” Most of the growers are in middle Tennessee but a few are growing it in east Tennessee and appear to be doing fairly well…The new type is slowly making its entry into N.C. also. “If I had to guess, I would guess we have 25 to 30 acres,” says Vann. “We might have 25 growers cultivating small plots of an acre or a little more.” That’s slightly more than last year, he thinks. There is a cluster of farmers growing Connecticut near Laurel Springs in Alleghany County (bordering Virginia) and most of the rest of the farmers are located east of Alleghany along the Virginia line
CANADA: The majority of the crop was planted in May, though some planting extended into early June, according to the The Canadian Tobacco Research Foundation. Most crops appear to be off to a good start, and cultivation is now occurring. Not many problems have been reported in fields yet except for a few reports of nematode and chill injury. There have been reports of blue mold occurrence on tobacco from the United States, where the disease has been recently reported in Pennsylvania. There have been no reports yet of blue mold in Ontario, where almost all of Canada’s tobacco is produced, and in fact the disease has not occurred in the province since 2009. However, growers are advised to routinely scout fields and any leftover plants in the greenhouse for signs of blue mold.
TOBACCO EVENTS SUMMER 2021
A Tobacco Field Day will be held in North Carolina July 21 at the research sta-tion in Oxford, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. For more information, contact mcvann@ ncsu.edu.
The Kentucky Corn, Soybean, and Tobacco Field Day will be held July 27, at the University of Kentucky Research Center, in Princeton, Ky., 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. NOTE: Kentucky’s Dark Tobacco Twilight Tour will be heldAugust 12 at 5:30 p.m. on the West Farm of Murray State University, 615.Robertson Road No., Murray, Ky.
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Transplanting in Kentucky was about half complete at the beginning of June, according to USDA. File photo courtesy of BTGCA.
JUNE CROP REPORT
THE DROUGHT IS BROKEN--FOR NOW
North Carolina: It finally started raining in North Carolina on Wednesday, with parts of the state getting four inches or more. There are some pockets in the Eastern Belt that had rain that would be classified as excess, as much as eight inches in some cases. Raleigh got a relatively light 2.5 inches, which was still more than it got in the whole month of May. Ironically, farmers in the hard hit areas are cutting ditches and draining fields, which is the polar opposite of what they were doing a week ago. On the other hand, some areas—around Winston-Salem for one—got no rain at all this week and are listed as in a severe drought…Vann notes that night-time temperatures finally got above 65 degrees last week which will be a great boon to plants.
South Carolina: The Pee Dee, the state’s leading tobacco area, got some rain last week to help with the drought that has been developing. “In most places, we got a half to one inch of rain this past week,” says Matthew Inman, South Carolina tobacco Extension specialist. “That was a welcomed relief because temperatures had been in the mid-upper 90s for several days.” There are no significant problems in the field so far, he says, just a little tomato spotted wilt with the normal disease issues starting to show up in some places. Some fields have suffered from sunscald due to the high temps and drought. Tobacco roots definitely got stressed this spring. “That may prove to help the root system in the long run,” he says.
Georgia and Florida: “We are not getting enough rain to keep up with the crop’s needs and growers have been relying on irrigation to keep the crop growing,” says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. “The tobacco that was looking like a bumper crop a few weeks ago slowed down and is not growing as rapidly. We are hoping that things will speed up.” There have not been a lot of warm night temperatures yet. Friday brought scattered showers (1.5”-3”) and hopes for renewed growth of Georgia tobacco as they are expected to continue through the weekend...Most tobacco has received the last cultivation and fertilizer application. Some sucker control chemical application has started.
BURLEY AND DARK
Kentucky: The rainfall for most of the state has been better than in the Carolinas. “We got about an inch and a half at the station in the last two days (through Thursday), said Andy Bailey, Extension dark specialist stationed at the Research and Education Center in Princeton, Ky. “At least 50 percent of our tobacco has been set, and most of that got timely rain soon after planting. Now, we would like to get back in the field, but I don’t know when we will be able to—the predictions are for rain every day next week”...In some areas of Kentucky, replanting was taking place because of earlier flooding, according to USDA.
Tennessee: In Macon County, near Nashville, the majority of the tobacco has been planted, reports Keith Allen, County Extension Tobacco agent. There are approximately 75 farmers raising 1,200 to 1,500 acres, primarily burley, with a small amount of Pennsylvania wrapper and other specialty tobaccos, he says. In neighboring Robertson County (Tn.), the large dark air and dark-fired crop was expected be completely planted early this week…Much less burley is being grown in Tennessee now compared to five years ago, says TFN contributor Bob Dudney. “My home county, Sumner, has had only three burley tobacco growers over the last few years.” There have been many more in the past, especially before the departure of Alliance One from the market. It would be hard for middle Tennessee farmers to get back into tobacco on any scale now because so many of the farms where tobacco had been raised have been subdivided, says Dudney. “That and the fact that tobacco raising is much more expensive than in the past make a rebound here unlikely.”
North Carolina: In the burley-growing area of northwest N.C., the weather was very dry until the last week of May. Grower Robert Wurth of Lansing, N.C., reports, “It has been about as dry as I have ever seen it for this time of year. I imagine entire fields would have been lost if the rain had not arrived when it did.It started falling last week after scorching heat and low humidity last week.” After the rain, the heat subsided for two days, and a few fields received slight frost damage on Memorial Day, he says. Quite a bit of replanting has been required. “Burley here is about half set or better, and now growers [who have it] are planting Connecticut broadleaf.” Wurth planted some CBL on May 24 and thinks he might should have waited a week. “Even with a very high rate of transplant water per acre, we had severe transplant shock, from which the crop is struggling to recover.” The broadleaf seems to be much more susceptible to sun scalding during transplant, and more replanting will probably be needed.
The PDREC Tobacco Field Day will be held June 24, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.. ending with lunch, at the Clemson Pee Dee Research Center, 2200 Pocket Rd., Darlington, S.C. 29532. Call Joshua Baughman about registration at 803. 484.5416 or email //forms .gle/2DbLaK1s Stdv1FFE.
The Tennessee Tobacco, Beef, and More Field Day will be held June 24 at the of Tennessee Highland Rim AgResearch Center, Springfield, Tn., 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The Kentucky Corn, Soybean, and Tobacco Field Day will be held July 27, at the University of Kentucky Research Center, Princeton, Ky., 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. NOTE: Kentucky’s Dark Tobacco Twilight Tour will be held again in Murray, Ky. in mid-August. Details will follow. NOTE 2: A virtual Tobacco day will be held later in the summer by N.C. State University. Details to follow.