8:37am

Tue July 16, 2013
The Commonwealth

Heavy Rain Leaves Tobacco Crop Down, But Not Out

Eastern Kentucky tobacco field.
Eastern Kentucky tobacco field.
Credit Sendai9193 / Flickr, Creative Commons

Heavy rains around the Fourth of July seriously damaged burley tobacco fields in the Bluegrass.  Some fields were flooded when several inches of rain fell in just a few hours.  Other fields, given the wet, cool weather, have struggled all season. Steve Pratt manages the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative.

“Even on soils that don’t flood, the excessive rains have caused the plant to take on excessive amount of water and caused what’s called ‘flop.’  In other words, the plant, the leaves on the plant actually flop over or fall down and is extremely hard on the plant,” said Pratt.

Madison County Extension Agent for Agriculture Brandon Sears says some veteran farmers say they don’t remember another summer when rains came day after day.

“We feel like in the Madison County and for the most part Central Kentucky areas, especially south central Kentucky, probably looking at a 40 to 50 percent yield reduction over what we had last year,” said Sears.

Even with all the water damage, Coop General Manager Pratt says it’s too early to render a final verdict for this year’s Burley crop across central Kentucky.