THE FOURTH of July was no fun for many tobacco growers this summer. This field in Clark County, Ky., was still inundated a day after the rain stopped. Most of the water standing here fell in a 30-minute period.
20 to 25 percent loss
The best estimate he had was that total loss on North Carolina flue-cured was somewhere in the 20 to 25 percent range. “But the crop is curing very well, and everything I've seen looks very good,” said Vann. “We will have another top quality crop, and that's really a testament to our growers.”
In Wilson County, N.C., one of the major flue-cured counties in the state, growers had for the most part completed their second harvest by the last week of August and were beginning to harvest their large third and final pulling.
To date the quality and yield was better than might have been expected considering the rain that fell almost constantly from mid-June to early-July.
Norman Harrell, the county tobacco agent, said that since the rains abated, the crop had been fortunate to receive timely rains and moderate temperatures.
“The crop responded better than I expected,” said Harrell. “Farmers helped themselves by applying additional nitrogen (to make up for leaching). The crop filled out, took on a good color and got better holdability.”
Harrell said it appears the quality of the eastern North Carolina leaf will be satisfactory. But the yield will be short. “We will be down at least 20 percent.”
But there was relatively little field abandonment in Wilson County.
In Virginia, flue-cured volume is definitely up this year, but sources said the USDA estimate of 52.9 million pounds is way too high. One says, "I don't see it going much higher than 47.5 million pounds."
Florida got plenty of rain, but nowhere near as much as most of the tobacco belt. Harvest was all but complete in mid-August, and growers had produced good usable leaf that graded well, said J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist for Florida.
There was an abundance of rain here too, but the crop seems to have fared better than in any flue-cured state except Virginia.
Yield was a little short because of the rain, but this may end up being remembered as a better-than-average crop for the Floridians.