AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE
Flue-Cured Tobacco Plant
Although planted on a relatively small acreage, flue-cured
tobacco produces the highest cash income of any field crop grown
in Florida. Plenty of good plants are necessary for a good crop.
Suggestions given here should help growers produce good plants.
There are several reasons why every tobacco grower should
grow his own plants. Most important among these are: (1)
He is assured the variety he wants. (2) Usually plants are
ready when he desires them. (3) Tobacco diseases are held to
a minimum when plants are grown on the farm. (4) Usually
the grower can produce better plants than he can buy. (5) If
he grows his own plants and properly fumigates his beds, he will
not carry nematodes to the field. This might not be true if he
Select a fertile, well-drained area near a good water supply,
protected against cold winds and not shaded.
A 100-yard bed should furnish enough plants to set four
acres. The beds should be 6 to 12 feet wide and should extend
in a north-south direction. The number of beds and their lengths
should be sufficient to allow production of the number of plants
required for the acreage to be set.
Begin preparation two or three weeks ahead of date for ap-
plication of the weed control chemicals to be used. If methyl
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida,
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. O. Watkins, Director
bromide is to be used, begin preparation by December 15. Re-
move bushes, stumps, weeds and trash; plow, disk, and hand
rake the soil until the surface is smooth; construct side and end
walls of boards or logs so that they extend 6 to 10 inches above
the ground level; see that all joints of the walls fit snugly so that
cold winds will be shut out and runoff water, which might bring
in weed seeds, will be prevented from entering the bed; and disk
down weeds around the bed area to reduce the possibility of
wind-blown seed entering the bed after weed control chemicals
have been applied.
Treatment with Methyl Bromide
In late December, a week to 10 days ahead of seeding date
and when the temperature is above 500 F., apply 1 pound of
methyl bromide per 100 square feet of bed area, using the fol-
lowing procedure for a 100-yard bed: (1) Subdivide the bed
into 3 plots of equal size and place at the center of each plot a
gas receptacle, such as an open quart Mason jar or a No. 2 tin
can in an upright or slightly slanting position. (2) Place the
outer end of the tubing of an applicator in each receptacle and
extend the tubing 2 or more feet beyond the outside of the bed.
(3) Stretch a gas-proof cover over the entire bed and to the
ground outside the bed on all sides and bank edges of cover with
soil to prevent escape of the gas to be released. (4) Release 3
pounds of methyl bromide gas into each receptable, by use of
the special applicator. (5) Remove cover 24 to 36 hours after
Methyl bromide is highly poisonous. The gas should be re-
leased and the cover removed from the windward side of bed so
that any escaping fumes will be carried away from the operator.
Nematodes can be a serious problem in the plant bed. Every
bed should be treated to kill any that might be present. Methyl
bromide, applied in the manner outlined above, has satisfactorily
controlled both weeds and nematodes. Tobacco is too important
a crop to take a chance by not treating the plant bed for this pest.
In late December, at least a week before seeding date, apply
a 6-9-3 fertilizer, especially prepared for tobacco seedbeds, at the
rate of 2 pounds per square yard and mix it with the top 2 to 3
inches of soil. The soil should be moist at time of fertilization.
Choose a variety generally considered to have special merit
or that has produced good returns on the farm where the crop
is to be grown. Varieties now commonly used in Florida, by
Broadleaf Group: N. C. 402, Golden Harvest, Golden Cure,
VG-2, Virginia Gold, Dixie Bright 101, and Yellow Special "A".
Medium to Narrowleaf Group: Yellow mammoth, Mammoth
Gold, Hicks, White Gold and Bottom Special.
Brief descriptions of some of the varieties follow:
Bottom Special.-Medium in height, with closely spaced leaves.
The medium broad leaves are long, having a large midrib. A
moderately high yielding variety, frequently producing, in the
upper portion of the plant, leaves that are narrow, dark and
heavy bodied, especially on stiff, fertile soils and in dry seasons.
It performs best on the medium to lighter sandy soils and in
seasons of fairly heavy and well-distributed rainfall. It is sus-
ceptible to the major diseases of tobacco.
Golden Cure.-Plants grow medium tall, with broad leaves
fairly close together. Leaves are not quite as large as those of
402. The good leaf width is maintained to the top of the plant.
It grows with a yellow cast. Exercise care to prime only ripe
tobacco. The variety has a wide range of adaptation and does
well on most soils used for tobacco. It is high yielding and gives
good returns; Susceptible to major diseases.
402.-This variety grows medium tall, with medium spaced
leaves. Stands are easily established and the plants grow vig-
orously, developing heavy root systems and strong stalks. The
leaves are easy to cure and produce a high proportion of cigarette
grades, if care is exercised to harvest only well ripened leaves.
It has quality characteristics desired by both domestic and export
markets. It is a moderately high yielding variety. It has no
resistance to major tobacco diseases.
Golden Harvest.-Characteristics of this variety are similar
Hicks.-This variety grows to medium heights, with medium
spaced leaves. The leaves are long, moderately narrow, and
taper to a sharp point. Stands are easy to establish but the
variety is severely affected by unfavorable cool, dry weather.
This variety will do best planted in late March or early April.
Much of its popularity is due to the fact that it is very easy
to cure to a bright, rich lemon or orange color with a high per-
centage of cigarette grades. Yields are moderately high in favor-
able seasons, comparable to other popular varieties. It is sus-
ceptible to blackshank, fusarium wilt and Granville wilt. Pro-
duces suckers freely.
White Gold.-This variety is very similar to Hicks.
VG-2.-A vigorous starting and growing variety which is
susceptible to the major diseases. Plants grow medium tall,
with medium close internodes and leaves that are broad, medium
long, with large midrib. Leaves grow with slight yellow cast.
Variety has medium number of suckers and cures similar to
Yellow Special A.-Grows medium tall with medium spaced
leaves which are broad, with good length, narrowing to a sharper-
pointed tip than 402. The top leaves do not maintain quite the
width of 402; this is more pronounced under dry weather condi-
tions. The plants have a slight yellow cast and, therefore, leaves
should be fully mature when harvested. It is medium in yield
but produces a good percentage of cigarette tobacco and has been
well liked by both domestic and export trade. This variety does
well on a wide range of soils. It has moderate resistance to
black root rot, but is susceptible to all other major tobacco dis-
Dixie Bright 101.-This variety grows tall and normally pro-
duces broad and well proportioned leaves of moderate length
which are brittle. The plants are easy to establish, seldom
bloom prematurely, and are tolerant to drought and sunscald.
Moderately resistant to blackshank and highly resistant to the
wilts. Under some conditions, leaf spot diseases may be trouble-
some. Well ripened leaves cure easily and usually dry quickly to
a bright lemon color. Yields are moderately high, approaching
those of popular susceptible varieties.
Virginia Gold.-Plants are medium tall with closely spaced,
broad, fairly long leaves. Stands are easily established and
young plants show unusual vigor. Plants develop strong root
systems and heavy stalks. The leaves cure to a rich lemon or
orange color but have a tendency to produce cherry red tobacco
similar to that of variety 401. It is a moderately high yielding
variety. Allow this variety to be thoroughly ripe when harvest-
ing. It is susceptible to major tobacco diseases.
Yellow Mammoth.-Produces tobacco of slight to medium
heavy body-good cigarette tobacco-on medium to light soils.
On the heavier soils, the cured leaf has heavy body and may ap-
proach the wrappery side. It grows to a medium height, with
narrow leaves that cure to a rich color. This variety carries no
resistance to tobacco diseases.
Mammoth Gold.-Characteristics of this variety are the same
as Yellow Mammoth.
About January 1, or sometime between January 1 and Janu-
ary 10, sow uniformly 1 ounce of seed of the chosen variety on
each 100 square yards and cover the seed by tramping or by
rolling a smooth roller over the surface. The surface of the soil
should be dry at time of seeding, as moist soil may adhere to
the feet or roller and result in uneven stands. To facilitate uni-
form distribution, the seed may be'mixed with 4 to 6 pounds of
weed-free dry sand or dolomitic limestone. Sprinkle bed lightly
after sowing to settle soil around seed. Cover bed with cheese-
cloth having 22 to 28 threads per inch to protect the plants from
cold weather and conserve moisture. Keep surface soil moist
during germination. Provide extra protection during cold nights
if the temperature is expected to drop below 26 F. for several
hours by covering the bed with pine straw or heavy cloth cover.
Apply 1.5 percent chlordane bait in late afternoon to walk-
ways and bed margins, using 1/2 pound per 100 square yards of
bed. Or you may prefer to use a 10% toxaphene bait applied
in the same manner.
Blue Mold Control
To prevent blue mold, spray or dust with ferbam or zineb
twice weekly from the time the plants are about the size of a
dime (or sooner if blue mold appears in the community) until
they are pulled for setting in the field. To prevent or cure blue
mold, use paradichlorobenzene or streptomycin.
Dusting with Ferbam or Zineb.-Use 15 percent ferbam dust
or 61/ percent zineb dust (diluted with talc or pyrophyllite) and
apply with a good rotary hand duster with spreader attachment.
Hold the outlet of the duster about 6 inches above the plants
and turn crank rapidly. The rate of application at each dusting
should be increased gradually from 11/2 to 2 pounds per 100
square yards when the plants are small to 3 or 4 pounds per 100
square yards at pulling time. Be sure that all leaves of all
plants are covered at each dusting. Dust immediately after
rains, even if 3 or 4 dustings per week are required.
Spraying with Ferbam or Zineb.-Mix 4 ounces of ferbam
(76 percent ferric dimethyl dithiocarbamate) or 3 ounces of
zineb (65 percent zinc ethylene bisdithiocarbamate) with 6 gal-
lons of water and apply with properly equipped bucket pump or
other suitable spray rig. (Thoroughly mix the powder, in proper
quantity, with a small amount of water. Pour the thin paste
thus prepared into the correct volume of water and stir the mix-
ture. Continue stirring while applying the spray. Use the spray
on the day it is prepared.) Hold the spray nozzle 1 to 2 feet
above the plants and thoroughly wet, but do not drench, every
plant in the bed. The rate of application at each spraying should
be increased gradually from 3 gallons per 100 square yards when
the plants are about the size of a dime to 5 or 6 gallons per 100
square yards at pulling time. Sprays of lower concentration
may be used at higher rates. The amounts of sprays applied
should be such that the recommended amounts of the active in-
gredients will be used.
Streptomycin.-This antibiotic is being used for the preven-
tion and cure of blue mold for the first time in 1958. Mix 1 tea-
spoonful of wettable powder with 1 gallon of water to give the
100 ppm that is used as a preventive spray. Start spraying when
plants are about the size of a dime and spray at weekly intervals.
About 2 gallons of spray will be required when the plants are
small and about 5 gallons per 100 square yards of bed when plants
are about large enough to set in the field. If blue mold appears
on the plants in the bed, increase the wettable powder to 2 tea-
spoonfuls per gallon of water. Obtain even distribution at each
spraying, as heavy concentration of streptomycin in one area
may cause the plants to turn yellow.
Gas Treatment with Paradichlorobenzene (PDB).-If you
plan to use paradichlorobenzene, construct the bed with tight
sidewalls and sufficient crosswires to support the cover. Secure
No. 6 PDB crystals and a plastic or heavy muslin cover. If you
use muslin, get cloth with 60 or more threads per inch. Watch
daily for signs of blue mold. Apply PDB in the following man-
ner as soon as blue mold appears: (1) Use 11/2 to 3 pounds of
crystals per 100 square yards at each treatment and treat for
2 or 3 nights in succession. (The amount of crystals used at
each treatment should be based on temperature. Use 11/2 to 2
pounds per 100 square yards if the temperature is above 500
F.) (2) Spread proper amount of crystals on regular bed cover
in late afternoon and place heavy cover over crystals and fasten
it securely to sidewalls being sure that neither crystals nor covers
come in contact with plants. (3) Remove heavy cover by 9
o'clock the morning after treatment. (4) Repeat treatment as
often as necessary.
If aphids appear in the plant bed dust with 1 percent para-
thion dust or spray with tetraethyl pyrophosphate (1 table-
spoonful of 40 percent tetraethyl pyrophosphate or equivalent
in 6 gallons of water) at weekly intervals. A final treatment 3 or
4 days before pulling should assure aphid-free plants for trans-
planting. Apply dust at the rate of 1 to 11/2 pounds per 100
square yards and sprays at the rate of 3 to 5 gallons per 100
square yards, the amount to be based on size of plants.
If the plants become yellow and grow slowly but have normal
roots and are not diseased, apply 3 to 5 pounds of nitrate of soda
in 100 gallons of water to each 100 square yards of bed. One or
two such topdressings, at weekly intervals, usually will restore
green color and secure proper growth of plants.
Pulling the Plants
After the largest leaves on most of the plants have reached a
width of about 1 inch, keep the cover off during the daylight
hours (if there is no danger of cold injury) to allow the plants
to harden as they grow. Water the bed before each pulling to
reduce breakage of roots and again after each pulling to settle
soil around the plants left in the bed. Well hardened, stocky
plants with an overall length of 6 to 8 inches (from the root
crown to the tips of the longest leaves) are considered ideal for
setting in the field. Don't neglect measures for control of blue
mold and aphids during the pulling season. After transplanting
has been completed, destroy all plants left in the bed to remove
hazard of diseases and insect pests.
Summer Management of Permanent Plant Beds
If the bed is to be used again, destroy plants by chopping or
disking them into the soil and plant a vigorous nematode-resist-
ant summer cover crop, such as velvet beans, hairy indigo or
Crotalaria spectabilis. Such crops aid in control of nematodes,
shade the soil, retard the growth of weeds and, when incorporated
with the soil, add high quality organic matter and thereby tend
to offset the harmful effect of continued use of some of the
weed control chemicals.