The decision to apply supplemental nitrogen to make up for losses from leaching — and how much to apply — is one of the most difficult and risky tasks in tobacco production.

But most growers this year, when there was so much leaching rain, had no choice but to make adjustments at some rate.

Steve Pair, a flue-cured grower in Knightdale, N.C., said extra nitrogen paid off under 2013 conditions.

“It helped a lot,” he said in a September interview. “I wouldn’t have had anything left in the field now if I hadn't applied it.”

Pair used mostly granular nitrogen which he applied twice over-the-top. He used a truck supplied by his fertilizer company.

“We got good results,” he said. “The tobacco turned green again and the top of the stalk filled out.”

In September, he was hoping for a 2,000-pound yield. “But I don’t think we are going to make it,” he said. “The leaf was real thin in the top. It never bodied up.”

Harvest usually goes on until mid-October on Pair’s farm, which is near Raleigh. “But this year we will probably finish in mid-September,” he said.

The central portion of the Kentucky Bluegrass experienced similar conditions thanks to all the rain, and many burley growers elected to supplement their fertilization programs, said Roger Quarles a grower from Georgetown.