Proper crop rotation is one of a farmer’s best weapons against disease. Planting tobacco in the same field in consecutive years puts your crop at risk for disease and can also strip the land of vital nutrients. While rotating crops can be more difficult for burley farmers, experts cannot stress the importance of rotation enough.
The type of crop you have in the field before you plant tobacco can be a huge asset. Matthew Vann, crop science Ph.D. student and graduate research assistant at North Carolina State University (NCSU), advises that planting soybeans in the field before tobacco can be advantageous for farmers as the soybeans leave nitrogen in the field. In addition, fields that go from small grains or grass to tobacco provide a natural weed control, saving time and money on weeding and herbicides.
Winter cover crops like wheat and rye protect your fields from erosion and add beneficial organic matter to your soil content when plowed under in the spring. But be sure to kill or plow under your winter grain crops in a timely manner—preferably in early spring. Eliminating winter cover crops at the right time prevents the possibility of reduced soil moisture later in the spring and prevents the cover crop from using up soil nutrients that will be beneficial to your tobacco crop after planting.