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Play In The Dirt

April 22, 2013 |

The best soils for growing tobacco have good internal drainage that keeps standing moisture away from roots and, at the same time, good water-holding capabilities to combat dry spells in the growing season. (Note that you should always avoid transplanting into saturated soils, as tobacco roots require aeration and can begin to die in as little as six to eight hours, with significant loss in 12 to 24 hours.)

Before the new season begins, you must completely close out the previous one. Destroy stalks and roots as soon as possible after harvest, whether disease was present or not. Destroying stalks and roots promotes the death and decay of plant remains, denying a home to potentially profit-busting pathogens.

The Virginia Tech Flue-Cured Tobacco Production Guide recommends cutting the stalks into small pieces using a bush hog or similar equipment, plowing or disking out the stubble the same day the stalks were cut to remove entire root systems, re-disking the field two weeks later and planting a cover crop after the root systems are completely dried out and dead.

Destroying old tissue also exposes root pests and pathogens to the environment, which will kill them. According to the NCSU flue-cured guide, root-knot nematodes are sensitive to drying, so when the roots decay, the nematodes are exposed to harmful wind and sun. When tobacco roots and stalks are destroyed, tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) particles are removed from tobacco tissue, which reduces carryover infectivity from 5 percent to a tenth of a percent.

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Category: Diseases & Pests, Soil, Transplanting

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