There was one bit of bad news from the greenhouse. Blue mold was identified at the end of May in two greenhouses near Oxford, Pa., not far from Lancaster.

The plants from one were destroyed. But plants from the other, which showed fewer lesions but were nevertheless infected, were taken to the field, a development that discouraged the Extension agent in charge of tobacco in the area.

"The farmer took a chance, which is not what we want to see with this disease," says Jeff Graybill, Pennsylvania Extension educator. “But the air movement around these little plants (that have been set) is good, and we can hope the blue mold will dry up.”

There's no reason to think the disease has gone systemic on these plants, he adds.

The blue mold apparently over-wintered in the houses, an accomplishment that was eased by the mild weather. The type grown in the greenhouses was Pennsylvania seedleaf, a “cigar” type now primarily used in chewing tobacco.

Tobacco production in Pennsylvania appears to be up about 10 percent from 2011, to 11,000 acres. Growers there grow four types: burley, Pennsylvania seedleaf and Southern Maryland, along with a small amount of Green River, a dark air-cured type grown mainly in Kentucky. 

Plantings of the other three types are roughly equal, says Graybill, although Southern Maryland increased some this season.

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