This summer has probably left many of you wishing you had giant umbrellas for your fields. After years of worrying about drought, the skies opened up on many growers’ fields, dumping more than 30 inches in just a few short weeks on some fields in the East. With drenched and drowning plants growing thin and late, some growers have predicted record losses of more than 30 percent this season.
Though sometimes we wish we could, we can’t change the weather. What we can do is combat losses by making smart decisions in our fields and in our offices.
On page 12, we tackle the field and talk about how to reduce pests and build sustainable soil by developing a crop rotation plan that incorporates cover crops. On page 8, we discuss the potential challenges and benefits of growing a secondary crop like tomatoes in your greenhouses, while your tobacco thrives in the field. And on page 17, we introduce you to a pathogen that really gets under your skin: black shank. We tell you all you need to know about how to recognize it and keep it out of your fields.
One way to make smart decisions in the field is to follow best practices. On page 14 we sit down with the people who know, experts like professor emeritus Paul Denton from the University of Tennessee and David Reed from Virginia Tech, to get you the best practices for harvesting and curing your crop this time of year.
Making smart decisions in your fields is only half of the equation. Growers who keep an eye on business and make smart decisions in the office often reap more benefits than those who avoid the business end of farming. On page 16, we tell you why maintaining long-term relationships with buyers can be more beneficial than locking in year-to-year gains.
It looks as if the clouds may have parted now, for a while, at least. Take a break from marketing, curing and harvesting to check out our new website, tobaccofarmquarterly.com. You’ll be able to quickly search for the same great content that’s in our magazine, access archived issues and get additional tips for farming best practices—in the fields and in the office.
As you ready your summer’s work for market, we’ll be here rooting for you. We work to deliver the information you need to grow your best crop and would love to hear from you if you ever have questions or comments—or if you want us to take a closer look at a challenging issue. Until next time, we’ll be working on that giant umbrella.
— Eleanor Spicer Rice Robin Sutton Anders