Setting out flue-cured in Eastern NC. File photo by Christopher Bickers.
Reports on the crop's progress from selected areas of tobacco production
The outlook for tobacco in Georgia and Florida is favorable. “We are very hopeful of a good crop,” says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. “Soil moisture is good, although we could use more rain now.” Transplanting in both states is complete.
Much of the crop is approaching layby. Moore is not sure of the acreages in the two states but says Georgia’s plantings are likely to be less than 6,500 in 2022. That would be 17 percent less than the 7,743 acres planted in 2021. In Florida, he thinks plantings will be down 10 percent from 1,691 in 2021 to 1,522 for 2022.
Tomato spotted wilt is ramping up. “At this point it appears to be 10 percent or less statewide, but we are seeing some fields with 50 percent infection. That might translate into a 25 percent loss in yield. That would be a big problem for this crop since so many expensive inputs will have already been expended by this time.
Budworm control is approaching in Georgia and Florida, and this too needs to be done right. “Besides precision application, you need a good scouting program to determine when to spray without wasting any of your chemicals.”
Sucker control is another area for economies, and that’s important because prices appear to be up about 30 percent. “Start on a timely basis,” says Moore. “Use all three means of control: contacts, maleic hydrazide and the orange chemicals.” If you use everything when it needs to be used, good control should be achievable.
Everything is looking good in Tennessee, says Mitchell Richmond, Extension tobacco specialist. Setting of burley began last week in middle Tennessee and is in full swing there now. Several growers in east Tennessee started planting burley this week. Planting will probably pick up as this week progresses, he says. “I expect most of the crop will be set in the next two weeks.
The greenhouse season was good, he said. "Our plants are ready to take to the field. We have had good weather since we began planting.” But Tennesseans across the state will need some water pretty soon.
A cost-saving reminder: Variety selection is the first step in controlling black shank in tobacco. If you are in a field with known black shank, make sure you properly apply transplant water applications of fungicides by following the label. This is no year to be losing any control because of inefficiency.
Plantings so far (from participating states):Flue-cured--VA, 53%. NC, 74%. SC, 80%. GA, 100%. FL, 100%. Burley—KY, 11%. VA, 29%. Dark—VA, 31%. Source:Crop and Progress Report, NASS
REPORT FROM OVERSEAS
Zimbabwe--Could wheat attract acres out of tobacco? Zimbabwean officials are promoting wheat plantings since imports from Ukraine—a major source of wheat for Zimbabwe—has largely been forced out of the international market. There has been public discussion that at least some tobacco fields could be converted to wheat. Key factor--Many tobacco fields in Zimbabwe have access to irrigation which would be very handy for wheat production.
Setting out burley in the Bluegrass. File photo by Christopher Bickers.
Full-bore: Flue-cured planting has been going “full-bore” for about three weeks now, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. A few fields were planted four weeks ago. Contrary to earlier concerns, there should be no holdups because of scarce plants. “The current transplant supply is good, and I do not foresee any shortages absent something unforeseen happening.”
The tobacco transplanted so far looks really good,” he says. ”The weather has largely been very favorable, in spite of a lot of wind and major temperature swings.” There was patchy frost last week, but no substantial damage was reported. “But we could stand a good soaking rain of about one inch.”
Transplanting is ending in the Pee Dee. “A few are still working at it, but they should be finished soon,” says William Hardee, S.C. Extension tobacco specialist. Stands look good. Up till now, the weather has been good but it is getting dry, he says.
Transplanting has only just begun but if the weather holds, more farmers may start this week, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension specialist. “And transplanting will really get going after Derby Day (May 7).” The greenhouse season has gone smoothly so far, he says. “Plants are a little uneven but there are no major problems.” Pearce doesn’t have an estimate on plantings yet, but he doubts that the earlier USDA estimate of a three percent increase for the state is likely (See TFN April I). “We might see a 10 or 15 percent decrease,” he says.
The planting season may begin in middle Tennessee by the end of this week, says Rob Ellis, director of the Highland Rim AgResearch Center at Springfield, Tn. But it definitely hasn’t started yet. “I have been all over this area and I’ve not seen the first plant in the ground.” The Center hasn’t planted any of its tobacco yet but most of their soil is dry enough that it could be worked now. That wasn’t the case earlier, he says. “It was very wet a few weeks ago. Our corn planting was delayed, but we finished it last week."
A record number of tobacco types will be in tests at the Springfield center this season. In most past years, the types in testing were burley, dark air-cured and fire-cured. In 2021, they added Connecticut broadleaf, and this year they are also testing Pennsylvania seed leaf on a limited basis. The two new types are both cigar wrapper types.
It’s been very wet in the Kentucky-Tennessee dark-producing area this spring and that has delayed the start of setting. “I suspect a few dark growers may have set a few acres but most are waiting for the soil to get drier.” Bailey says.
Dark vs. wrapper? Andy Bailey, Kentucky-Tennessee Extension dark specialist doesn’t think either Connecticut Broadleaf or Pennsylvania Seedleaf--both cigar wrapper types--will see increased plantings this season in western Kentucky and Tennessee. They may indeed experience asignificant reduction, he says, because the major dark manufacturer offered a substantial increase in contracts for dark tobacco in the Black Patch.
Recovering from the storm: Only one tobacco test will be conducted this season on the research facilities at the Princeton center, which were almost completelydestroyed by a tornado in December. It will take at least two years to get them functional again, but testing in the field will be resumed in coming weeks using plots at Murray State University [an hour’s drive away], the UT Highland Rim Research and Education Center in Springfield, TN, and on individual farms.
There's an incentive this year to plant fire-cured fast:Due to a dramatic increase in acreage expected this year, much of the dark fire-cured crop will have to be double-cropped, and that requires an early crop to be transplanted by mid-May, says Bailey.
Flue-cured plantings so far: Georgia, 83%, SC, 51%. NC, 36%. VA, 12%. Source:Crop and Progress Report, NASS.
Drew Clapp has been named Drexel’s East Coast sales representative responsible for sales in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. A graduate with two degrees from NC State University, he lives in Greensboro, N.C., and can be contacted at 901 287 9296.
Tom Tucker has joined Yara’s Mid-Atlantic team as a Senior Sales Agronomist. He will be responsible for delivering Yara’s crop nutrition solutions to growers and providing support to retailers in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and northern North Carolina. A graduate with two degrees from NC State University, Tucker will be based out of his home office in Raleigh, N.C. He can be reached at tom. firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 935-9897.
REPORT FROM OVERSEAS
How much tobacco did Brazil growers produce in the last crop, which was marketed from October until early this year? According to Afubra, the Brazilian tobacco growers association, volume was down 9.38 percent to 569,539 tons, compared to last season’s 628,489 tons. Plantings were down by about the same percentage: 9.78 percent, from 273,317 hectares in 2021 to 243,590 hectares this year. The expected yield is 2,310 kg/ha compared to 2,299 kg/ha last year.
Not over yet? The decline in Brazil may not have ended. The president of Afubra, Benício Werner, pointed to three obstacles that might lead to further reduction:
Grower frustration with recent market seasons have been a major factor in the reduction in tobacco planting.
With other crops providing greater profitability, tobacco producers are investing more in diversification.
Tobacco growers are adapting their product offer to market demand.
Farmers in this African country sold 94,453 kilograms of flue-cured tobacco for US $243,500 on opening day of its market, according to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB). That was 40.54 percent more than the previous year when 92,106 kg was sold for US $173,256. The average price was $2.58 per kg. It had been $1.88 on the first day of the previous season.
Low volume, higher prices: TIMB Executive Meanwell Gudu told the Zimbabwe Herald he expects firm prices because of lower production. He also predicted Brazil will likely be 80 million kg short of usual production because of drought.
The 2022 greenhouse season is under way, says a dispatch from the Canadian Tobacco Research Foundation. The start has been cool and cloudy. All greenhouses have been seeded since early April. Overall, seedling stands in greenhouses should provide adequate transplants for this year’s crop.