Nelms' neighbor down the road in Bunn, N.C., Steve Mitchell, planted 90 percent of his crop in NC 196 this season. Most of the rest is CC 37, which is also black-shank resistant. He also has a little K 326, which has no resistance to black shank at all, but he plants it for a reason.

In addition to producing high-quality leaf, K 326 holds its weight and quality in the field for an exceptional period of time after it reaches the point of optimum maturity.

That allows you to harvest more of a late crop with a given labor crew without having to hire extra workers.

“It will sit there and hold on the stalk and still not cure dark,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell has arranged things so that susceptibility to black shank wasn't really a liability. “I planted it in some new ground we recently cleared,” he said.

Since black shank is associated solely with tobacco production, there is not likely to be any black shank in soil that has never been in tobacco.

The same applies to burley, but that would make almost no difference for burley growers who plant KT 209. It's resistance to race zero blank shank is so high that it is for all practical purposes immune, and it's resistance to race one is eight out of 10.

That is the highest level of black shank resistance of any commercially available burley variety, said Danny Peek, Virginia Extension burley specialist.

“With many burley-growing areas now reporting the presence of race one black shank in combination with race zero, KT 209 is expected to provide good black shank tolerance.”

Note though that even though the resistance to black shank is relatively high in KT 209, it is not immune to race one, said Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist.

“In areas with heavy race one black shank pressure, fungicides are still recommended for KT 209.”