Getting the NC Tobacco Crop to the Finish Line Full of Challenges

Getting the NC Tobacco Crop to the Finish Line Full of Challenges

Growing tobacco in North Carolina has been mostly a trouble-free affair, once it got into the ground.  But, as we’re aiming for the finish line on this year’s crop Don Nicholson, NCDA Regional Agronomist says some problems are starting to pop up:

“Normally we would be saying we are very close to the finish line, but this year we are very late. The crop has been in the field a long time but we are going to start seeing some progress as well as some problems come up. I’m seeing what I call ‘popcorn’ where the stalks are starting to show disease, mainly wilt. And with wet fields, and more moisture, you are seeing folks having to go in and save what they can.”

When it came time to plant, many producers didn’t have enough plants due to losses in the greenhouse during the abnormally cold winter.  Nicholson says there are some producers out there that have more than one variety in their fields:

“People were pretty much taking what they could get. It makes managing the crop a little tougher than folks would like. But a lot of times the characteristics are the same and just differ with the brand. But there are some that didn’t have the disease package they wanted and its not as conducive to maturing the crop.”

And because of the planting issues in the spring, Nicholson says the hope now is for a late frost:

“The crop is just going to be late this year so we are hoping for a late frost.”

Nicholson says that many producers increased their acres this year:

“There are more planted acres but not that many more curing barns. Some have found some older barns and are trying to get them set up for the push in the late season. Some of the tobacco is going toward over-mature and that’s not a good thing.”

NCDA Regional Agronomist Don Nicholson.'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.