While things get cooking in the greenhouse, our spring sun is coming out to melt winter’s chill from the fields, readying them for 2013’s season. In this issue, we cover some hot topics to help you get warmed up for the year.
Many of you got a jump start on the season by attending Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training, continuing education now required for most growers with contracts. It’s a good refresher, says J. Michael Moore, professor and tobacco Extension agronomist for the University of Georgia. “We’ve been following the basic tenents of GAP for a number of years,” says Moore. “The training is just a good reminder of those best practices that ensure better yields and maximize profit.”
In this issue, we’ve built on that training by talking to Extension experts, university researchers and other growers to bring you actionable GAP advice you can follow right now to help the summer go smoothly—tips that aren’t always taught in the classroom.
We start by learning about when to call a Certified Crop Adviser for help. CCA Board Member Jim Dunphy gives us the scoop on how CCA training can benefit your fields on page 16.
Then, we help you learn how to strike the right balance with chemical controls and cultural practices, as mounting regulations and demand for high-quality tobacco are ever increasing and sometimes seem to conflict. On page 12, our experts discuss how you can achieve that balance, offering advice on which cultural practices are most impactful. And when the time comes to use those controls, they give advice on how to use them most effectively.
But first things first: Kevin Johnson, county Extension director for Wayne County, N.C., has plenty of experience working with growers in the transplanting stage of tobacco. On page 8, he shares the top 10 greenhouse practices guaranteed to give your plants a healthy start.
This issue’s “Meet What Eats Your Profit” column focuses on a greenhouse pest that makes many of you hot under the collar. Steve Frank, assistant professor and Extension specialist at North Carolina State University and president of IPM Research and Consulting, introduces us to the green peach aphid, a tiny critter that feeds off tobacco seedlings. Frank shows us how to recognize these tobacco pests and keep them out.
This time of year, we’re busy preparing for the growing season. But there are some preparations we need to make for our future. Kathy Kraeblen and Clark Hales, who work for PNC Wealth Management in Raleigh, N.C., understand that retirement is a whole different ballgame for growers, and they know what’s required to save and grow a healthy retirement for their golden years. Read their advice on page 10.
Moving forward from 2012’s prosperous growing season, packed with improved technology, higher quantity and better quality for many tobacco growers, we know that with the right information, best practices and a little luck, 2013’s spring seeds can grow your profit margin even more. We’re here to share information, and we wish you a healthy and prosperous season.
—Eleanor Spicer Rice and Robin Sutton Anders