Setting of tobacco is well underway, and Bryant Spivey, Director of Johnston County Extension says as they often times do this time of year, questions about plant population have cropped up:
“We’ve got planting for tobacco well under way in Johnston County, I might add we’ve had excellent conditions, we’ve had a few cool nights in our transplant window period, but really, overall conditions have been excellent. We had good rainfall late last week, and so that early planted tobacco has everything it needs to take off.
You know, this time of year growers have questions about plant populations, and growers use a lot of different row widths, also different end-row spacings. And I just sent out a little information to growers this morning to touch on the point of plant population.”
And plant population can affect leaf chemistry says Spivey:
“Our plant populations in tobacco, we try to keep them between 5,500 to maybe 6,500 plants per acre. And that’s because at those population we know what to expect from yield and quality, especially as it relates to leaf chemistry. And our leaf chemistry is a very important quality factor for the industry.”
Spivey has this outlook:
“This year we expect that our acreage will decline, at least some amount, because we’ve had some cuts in contract volume. We also had some greenhouses that weren’t planted. it’s very expensive to grow transplants in the greenhouse, and growers typically plant in the greenhouse what they think they’re going to need, plus, 5, or 10% sometimes. Fortunately, we haven’t lost any, and I think when it’s all said and done, that our plant supply will be sufficient to transplant the crop.”
While not exactly a shortage of greenhouse plants, Spivey says there are a few growers looking:
“Always around this late April timeframe, the plant supply can get a little tight. What I mean by that is that you have some growers that are looking for plants, but you don’t really have any growers yet that are finished planting, so they don’t want to turn loose of what plants they have in the greenhouse. So, we do have a few growers that are beginning to look for some extra plants now.”
But, in the next couple of weeks, there should be some plants available:
“Probably as we get to early May, first week of May, as growers finish, there’ll be little supplies of plants that pop up here or there, that will be available for other growers to be able to finish.”
All in all, the plant situation is in good shape says Spivey:
“We had a really tight plant supply last year, and really pushed the envelope of….and really that’s been the situation the last two years, and also you can get into some situations where growers lose a greenhouse for some reason or another, and that makes the situation really severe for that grower, and we had some of that last year.
But, this year, so far, things are really good, we’ve got a sufficient supply of plants, and barring any major weather problems, we should be in good shape.”