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• 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.
THIS FIELD near Broadway, N.C., received heavy rains that leached out fertilizer. But the grower elected not to add any supplemental nitrogen. The result? A washed-out plant that was ready for final harvest when this picture was taken on Aug. 7.
Problem with curing
Curing was a problem with this wet crop, and Pair was glad he had an automated curing control system.
He got a Cureco system five years ago, and he said it paid for itself in two years. “We have gotten increased quality since we started using it and a more uniform cure,” he said.
“It takes a lot less of my time and it seems to save about 12 hours a barn in curing time.”
Fuel usage went from 300 gallons of LP gas to 279, he said.
Automatic damper control provides continuous monitoring of the wet-bulb temperature, resulting in more accurate ventilation control and lower fuel consumption during curing, said Grant Ellington, North Carolina Extension engineer.
The amount of fuel savings associated with any automatic damper control will depend on how well a grower is currently managing the ventilation process.
Automatic control systems can also monitor the dry-bulb and wet-bulb temperatures and transmit this information electronically to a central location, such as an office or home, he said.
Burley growers have fewer options to make curing more efficient, but Stanley Holloway, Yancey County (N.C.) Extension agent, said that considering the growing conditions, farmers in the western part of the state will look at wider spacing of their sticks on the tier rails.
“This will allow more air movement,” he said.
In Kentucky, Extension Tobacco Specialist Bob Pearce, reminded growers that in conventional burley barns, all available space should be uniformly filled. “Air does not circulate well through tobacco in partially filled barns,” he said.
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