Circular 73 December, 1943
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLOOR
FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE FOR WOMEN 01
AND UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRIcu L4
A. P. SPENCER, Director
PRODUCING QUANTI kN
QUALITY FLUE-CURED T
By J. LEE SMITH
Quantity, quality and demand determine the value of the
annual flue-cured tobacco crop. Both quality and quantity of
an individual farmer's crop as well as that of the total crop are
determined largely by the production practices used in growing
and curing it. There is no other field crop that responds so
rapidly to production factors as does flue-cured tobacco. By
the proper use and manipulation of these factors, the individual
farmer can produce a large quantity of high quality tobacco
and thereby largely assure himself of profitable returns from
THE PLANT BED
A plentiful supply of strong, healthy plants for setting the
crop at the proper time is a most important factor in securing
a high yield of quality tobacco. The use of weak and diseased
plants necessitates replanting, causing uneven growth and
irregular maturity and resulting in lower yields and poorer
Location.-The plant bed, if possible, should be near a water
supply, on weed-free land that can be well drained, and where
it will receive the morning sun. It is desirable to have the beds
extend north and south, sloping preferably slightly toward east
or south. Protection from strong wind is desirable. The bed
should be located at least 100 yards from the old plant bed and
here it will not receive water from the old bed or from an old
tobacco field. Blue mold starts most often in old plant beds.
f an old bed is to be used again, all plants and vegetation should
>e removed as soon as the crop is set and the bed planted thickly
o- crotalaria or other nematode and blue mold-resistant plants,
r preparation for next year.
Construction.-Late, stunted plants are easily killed by cold,
ind poor control of blue mold is more often the result of poor
plantt bed construction than anything else. The bed should be
rom 6 to 9 feet wide and not over 75 feet long. Twenty-five
o 35 square yards properly constructed and cared for should
rive enough plants for each acre to be grown. The frames
should be of tight-fitting logs or boards with straight top edges
to the cover, without holes in it, can be drawn down tight over
hem. Cloth 24 to 28 threads per inch is used as the regular
>lant bed cover, but cloth 56 x 60 thread, or other closely woven
material, must be used when treating for blue mold control to
iold the fumes. The frames should be banked around outside
>ver all cracks to keep water or cold wind out and paradicholor-
)enzine fumes in when treating for blue mold. When needed,
[itches should be placed around the bed to keep excess water
ut during heavy rains. Wire or slats should be stretched
rosswise over the frame at about 6 to 9-foot intervals to sup-
)ort the cloth cover, 8 to 12 inches above ground or 6 to 8 inches
ibove plants. Frost or cold will kill plants touching cloth.
Treatment.-If plant bed soil is infested with weed seed or
nematodes, it must be burned more than 2 inches deep to secure
rery much control. This requires lots of wood. Brush fires are
The soil should be worked into a fine state, all roots and other
vegetation being removed. Two pounds of 3-8-5 or 3-8-8 or
theirr specially prepared seedbed fertilizer to each square yard
>f bed mixed thoroughly with the top 2 or 3 inches of soil
.0 to 14 days before planting seed will make a good seedbed.
A light application of poultry, sheep, hog, or other well rotted
nanure, free of nematode and weed seed, worked into the land
vill be found profitable. The soil should be reworked just before
lowing, which should ordinarily be about the last week in
December or first week in January. One tablespoonful, or 1
>unce, of good seed per 100 square yards of bed will be sufficient.
Arter tne seen is sown anu son nas ueen roueu or tampen
firm the bed should be watered often enough to keep the surface
of the soil moist until the young plant leaves are the size of a
thumbnail. This water should be applied with a sprinkling pot
or nozzle to avoid "washing up" the seed or plants. Water should
be applied in the morning so the plants will dry off before night.
After the plants are established the covers should be removed
in the morning of warm days to allow the water or dew to dry
off and plants to grow tougher. The cloth must be replaced at
night as long as the nights are cool.
If heavy rains have fallen or blue mold has attacked the plants
2 to 3 pounds of nitrate of soda dissolved in 50 gallons of water
may be sprinkled on each 100 square yards of bed.
Blue Mold Control.-Blue mold may attack the plant in the
bed any time and be serious. It can be controlled with para-
dichlorobenzine. The treatment should be made as soon as the
signs of the disease appear on the plants.
When the days are warm and clear and it is desirable to re-
move the cloth during the day, downy mildew can be destroyed
by evaporating 1 to 11/2 pounds of paradichlorobenzine per 100
square yards of bed at night. When the temperature averages
from 40 to 500 at night 2 to 3 pounds will be required. The
paradichlorobenzine should be applied about 5 to 6 o'clock in
Fig. 1.-Tobacco plant bed at the Experiment Station, showing method
of applying PDB (paradichlorobenzine) down a center strip in a 6-foot bed.
(Cut from Experiment Station Bulletin 342.)
the afternoon and the treating cover immediately placed over
the bed and sprinkled or sprayed with water. The cover may
be removed about 8 or 9 o'clock in the morning. When days
are cold or cool and cloudy 3 to 4 pounds may be applied in like
manner in the evening. The same amount can be applied again
next morning and the cloth sprayed again. It may be wet again
during the day if the weather is dry and windy.
After treatment the plants should be carefully examined and
small, larger quantities as the plants grow larger.
The plant bed should be kept free of weeds.
PREPARATION OF LAND AND TRANSPLANTING
With slightly different treatment, all well drained upland soils
in the flue-cured tobacco belt of the state, except probably black
bottom lands, can be made to grow good quality tobacco. The
land should be free of nematodes and heavy growth of legume
cover, such as crotalaria. Production can be improved on light
soils by working into the land a light cover of legumes or a
light application of well rotted stable manure. The excess or-
ganic nitrogen can be taken out of clay or the heavier soils by
preceding the tobacco with a crop of dug peanuts, cotton, oats,
or solid corn cultivated late.
The land should be plowed in December or January, giving
turned-under vegetation time to decay thoroughly before spring.
Rows should be laid off and fertilizer applied and listed on at
least 10 days or 2 weeks before plants are to be set, giving time
for the soil to settle or "firm down" and the fertilizer concentra-
tion to break down sufficiently to avoid killing or damaging the
newly set plants. Plants will live through almost any drought
when set in settled or firmed earth. The list or ridge can be
knocked off with hoe or board just ahead of setting, thus pro-
viding a clean damp place for putting the plants.
Recently turned loose earth that dries out quickly causes more
plants to die, resulting in poor stands or replanting, than all
other causes combined. It is causing far more loss to growers
than blue mold. Fertilizer damage is the next cause. If one
must plant immediately after listing, the fertilizer should be
put in 2 bands with plants set between or the fertilizer should
be applied after plants are established.
Several varieties of flue-cured tobacco now being grown in
the state are capable of producing high yields of good quality
leaf. Among these are Bonanza, Mammoth Gold, Yellow Mam-
moth and Gold Dollar.
THE SOIL, NUMBER OF PLANTS, AND FERTILIZER BALANCE
To obtain the largest income from flue-cured tobacco, the
proper balance among 3 production factors must be secured.
These are (1) the grade or type of soil, (2) the number of plants
grown per acre and (3) the quantity and quality of fertilizer
used. If a producer is getting a better income per acre than
others, it is very likely because he is using a better balance of
these factors. One who is receiving less than average can make
adjustments to improve his own.
On light sandy "weed" land, 5,000 plants spaced 26 to 27
inches apart in 4-foot rows and 1,000 pounds of 3-8-5 or 3-8-8
fertilizer per acre generally are best. The difference in fertility
between "light" weed and "medium" weed land equals approxi-
mately 300 pounds of 3-8-5 or 3-8-8 fertilizer and therefore re-
quires 500 stalks more per acre. So, to get that balance on
"medium" land one would set 5,500 stalks spaced 24 inches in
4-foot rows or 211/2 inches apart in 41-foot rows, when 1,000
pounds of the same fertilizer is used. Light lands and 1,300
pounds of fertilizer equal the fertility in "medium" lands and
1,000 pounds of fertilizer. Consequently, when 5,500 stalks are
planted per acre on light lands, 1,300 pounds of fertilizer shou:
be applied. What is commonly known as "heavy" weed lan
if 1,000 pounds of fertilizer is used, would require 6,000 stall
spaced 22 inches apart in 4-foot rows or 191/2 inches in 41/-fo
When a change of 200 pounds per acre is made in the fertiliz(
application, a change of 300 stalks per acre or 11/3 inches in spa(
between the plants must be made to maintain that balance.
Fig. 2.-A good crop of tobacco going into the curing barn means
money in the bank.
If the price a producer receives on the market is approximately
as good as the best, he probably cannot improve the quality. ]
his quantity is not so good he can most likely improve that an
incidentally his income by applying more fertilizer and usin
correspondingly closer spacing.
If a thick tobacco leaf is produced and a corresponding lo'
price is secured, the quality may be improved by using le.
nitrogen or probably more phosphate and potash in the fertilize
or, if the land is "heavy," it may be "conditioned" by growing
a crop of dug peanuts or cotton, to which very little fertilize
is applied, the previous year. Two or 3 tons of well rotted manui
or a small crop of crotalaria turned under on "light" soil wi
improve the quantity and quality of tobacco. When a legum
is grown the year before and left on "light" or "medium" land,
one must "judge" how much the legume has improved it, and
increase the number of stalks or reduce the nitrogen in the
fertilizer to offset it.
WIDE AND NARROW ROW METHOD
A method of producing flue-cured tobacco recently introduced
is known as the "wide and narrow row" method. This method
requires a broad bed on which 2 rows are set, prepared 2 weeks
or more before setting. The fertilizer is put to the side and
cultivation is shallow, destroying no feeding roots. These prac-
tices are good and proper in all tobacco production. Setting on
a bed is logical on damp land or where the water table is high.
But the method is yet in the experimental stage and is not yet
recommended for general use in this state.
DISEASES AND THEIR CONTROL
In addition to downy mildew (blue mold) there are other dis-
eases which are more or less common in plant bed or field.
Those most commonly found are damping-off, Granville wilt and
brown spot. All of these may spread from plant to plant and
under conditions favorable to them may cause considerable
Damping Off.-Damping-off, like blue mold, attacks the plants
in the bed and causes the young plants to "disappear," some-
times destroying the whole bed. It starts in spots, usually the
wettest place in the bed. To prevent this the bed should be put
in new, well drained land away from the old bed and where it
,-:*11 _A-4- I-iy i 01 -+- _-r +1-' 1->/1 -r -1n +
vill appear in the woody portion of the stalk, with brown cavities
n the pith. Sticky slime will ooze out of the dark streaks in the
stem when cut.
The nature of the disease suggests all that can be done about
f C(nrPo hilld ho taken not tn qnrp.ad it to other narft. of th!.
p and examined for root-knot while green to determine if the
if water, will control grass
ese insects can be control]
and 10 parts of water. Two quarts of this mixture should be
mixed with 10 pounds of bran. This should be put out at the
rate of 3 to 4 pounds per 100 square yards of bed and, like the
bait for cutworms, kept off the plants.
Flea Beetles.-A properly constructed plant bed is the first
precaution against flea beetles. If they do get in the bed they
can be controlled by use of about 1/2 pound of 0.75 percent
rotenone dust for each 100 square yards of plant bed. The ap-
plication should be repeated every 4 days with a duster until
the beetle is brought under control.
Budworms.-A pinch of a bait composed of 1 pound of lead
arsenate mixed in 75 pounds of corn meal in each bud will con-
trol the budworms. About 8 pounds per acre will be required.
Hornworms.-A dust composed of 1 pound of paris green to
6 of lime applied at the rate of 7 or 8 pounds per acre will be
very effective in controlling the hornworms if evenly applied.
Fall plowing will destroy most of the over-wintering pupae.
Fig. 3.-Careful check must be maintained to keep down insect injury
Good tobacco can be ruined in the curing process. See
write your County Agent or Florida Agricultural Extensi
Service, Gainesville, Florida, for a schedule to follow in curi
Fig. 4.-Proper production methods will put a good quality of flue-cur
tobacco on the market.