Georgia growers struggle
J. Michael Moore, extension agronomist and tobacco specialist with the University of Georgia, says growers there have had the worst season ever, and next year’s crop could be even smaller.
Georgia tobacco growers have trouble competing economically with other growing areas because of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV). The disease increases input costs and reduces yields by 100 to 300 pounds per acre. Growers have had some success using Admire and Actigard in greenhouses, but up to 40 percent of the plants will still exhibit symptoms in affected areas, reducing yields and quality.
The state also experienced poor weather this year. Rains delayed planting beyond the first week in April, decreasing the risk of early-season TSWV problems, but then there appeared to be a later development of disease incidence. Wet weather continued all season, reducing leaf quality.
If researchers can find a solution to TSWV problems, however, the state has potential to increase acreage in the future. The state’s growers have the capacity to irrigate up to 50,000 acres, and certain foreign buyers, especially in Germany and Denmark, prefer Georgia leaf over leaf grown in other regions.