Despite the apparent recovery of many burley fields, most burley growers were disappointed with the weight of the cured leaf in 2013.  This is typical of a wet weather burley crop.  The yield potential of a burley crop depends much more on what is below ground than what we see above ground.  Burley tobacco will not put down a good root system in consistently wet soils and this will always result in lower cured leaf yields.   In a dry year like 2012, the top growth may not look as good but the crop is putting down a strong root system that will support a good yield.

While burley growers can neither predict nor control the weather for the coming season, there are some actions they can take to minimize the negative impacts of extreme weather.

  • Choose fields with deep, well-drained soils for tobacco production.
  • Practice a good system of crop rotation that ideally includes sod crops to promote strong soil structure and improve soil organic matter content.
  • Avoid tilling wet soils to limit compaction. 
  • Choose a variety with an appropriate level of disease resistance for the field.
  • Produce or purchase good quality tobacco transplants that are free of disease.
  • Make a plan for scouting and treatment for disease and insect pests at the beginning of the season.