The last two years have been a struggle for tobacco growers in the Carolinas. In 2011 drought stunted the crop early, and pushed harvest back. What was left in the fields in North Carolina in late August, Hurricane Irene demolished.
Drought and excessive heat in South Carolina reduced yields considerably in 2011, but Dewitt Gooden, tobacco specialist at Clemson’s Pee Dee Research & Education Center near Florence, South Carolina says 2012 is getting off to a much better start:
“Most areas have had good rainfall this year, some areas have had too much rain. But in general the crop is a lot better off this year.”
NC State Extension Tobacco Specialist Loren Fisher echo’s Gooden’s thoughts:
“We have gotten off to a very good start for the season. In some places there was more rain than they would like, but overall the crop looks very good.”
As to issues with the crop, Gooden says…:
“Wilt seems to be a little more severe this year.”
Fisher says that the North Carolina crop has started to see some problems associated with rainfall:
“We started the season with some target spot come in but that is associated with the excess moisture.”
Gooden says he’s seeing the beginning of transplant insecticides wearing off, and it’s time to start scouting:
“We do have some very good insecticides out there.”
Fisher says that he’s not seeing anything unusual in the insect department in the North Carolina crop:
“There are bug worms that have been around for several weeks now. But nothing exceptional.”
Gooden says that sucker control got underway last week in the South Carolina crop.
Fisher says that sucker control has gotten underway in North Carolina as well.
Gooden says that while insects haven’t been a problem as yet, he has seen one unusual issue:
“There seems to be a lot of weather flecks showing up this year. Likely due to the excess rainfall.”
And Gooden feels the same way.
Drs Dewitt Gooden and Loren Fisher, tobacco specialist with Clemson and NC State on Today’s Topic.