Even if the rains subside, diseases now have an easy target on the crop, said Kenny Seebold, UK Extension plant pathologist.

“Diseases are definitely low on the list of concerns right now because of all the water damage.  So far, though, I've seen quite a bit of black shank although it is not as bad as I've seen in previous years.  That's a surprise given all the rain, but I think a lot of growers are planting newer varieties with better resistance and they're also using fungicides to a greater extent than in the past,” Seebold said.

But, Seebold expects black shank to really “take off” the remainder of the growing season.

“As for foliar diseases, I've noticed a spike in the amount of target spot and frogeye leaf spot as I've driven around the past couple of days (in mid-July).  I've not seen any severe cases, but it's on a lot of farms.  If we keep getting rains, I expect these to really be a problem as we approach topping,” he said.

He’s advising Kentucky tobacco growers to spray Quadris as soon as they see problems to stave off an explosion of disease later in this season.  “Overall, we're not getting hammered by disease but the stage is set to have problems if the rains keep coming,” he said.

Kentucky is the leading burley-producing state. USDA pegs acreage at 78,000 this year, up about five percent from 2012.

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