AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE
University of Florida
Flue-Cured Tobacco Production
Flue-cured tobacco is grown on approxi-
mately 15,000 acres by 6800 growers in 23
Florida counties. The average acreage allot-
ment per Florida farm presently is 2.2 acres.
Production of good quality flue-cured to-
bacco is more of an art than a science.
Growers who combine practices that contri-
bute to both high quality and high yield are
able to obtain highest returns per acre. Sug-
gestions given here are based on research
and experience. If followed they should help
growers obtain higher return per acre.
Give preference to well drained sands and
loamy sands with low to medium organic
matter content, and with clay subsoils at
depths of 15 or more inches. Soils selected
should have been used in a suitable crop
rotation. Poorly drained soils or soils with
high organic matter content should not be
Soil management before planting a tobacco
crop in a field is probably no less important
than the natural character of the soil itself.
Proper systems of crop rotation are essential
to assure the best possible production. Nema-
tode-susceptible crops, such as cowpeas, soy-
beans, lupines, watermelons, sweet potatoes,
okra and tomatoes should not be included
in the rotation. In no case should lupines
or other leguminous winter cover crop im-
mediately precede tobacco.
Crops with which tobacco may be suc-
cessfully rotated include oats, rye, corn, cot-
ton, peanuts, weeds and perennial grasses.
If peanuts are used in a rotation, one of the
grass crops (rye, oats or corn) should im-
mediately precede the tobacco crop. A two,
three, or four-year grass sod followed by to-
bacco has proven very good. The only green
manure crops suitable for use immediately
before tobacco are oats and rye. Tobacco
should not be grown on the same land more
often than once in four years.
To permit more thorough decomposition of
crop residues and to reduce nematode prob-
lems, land to be planted to tobacco should be
turned the preceding fall, and left bare or
planted to oats or rye. Oats or rye should
be turned under at least three weeks before
planting, leaving a fivefoot strip in each
alternate future sled row for reduction of
wind erosion. Wind blown sand not only
damages young tobacco plants but also re-
duces effectiveness of row applied soil fumi-
gants. Strips should extend in a direction
perpendicular to that of prevailing March
and April winds.
In February, at least three weeks before
transplanting date, apply either dichloro-
propane-dichloropropene (DD), or ethylene
dibromide 40 percent (EDB-40), or ethylene
dibromide 85 percent (EDB-85) in the row
and cover immediately by forming a bed like
that prepared for setting tobacco plants. Ten
gallons per acre of DD or EDB-40, or 3 gal-
lons of EDB-85 should be used when rows
are 3% feet apart. Materials should be
applied 8 to 10 inches below land level. Soil
moisture should be favorable for good crop
growth when the fumigant is applied. IT
heavy rains occur after fumigant is applied,
bed should be opened for aeration just before
Where soil tests have been made, follow
recommendations given. If soil test results
are not available, use 3-9-9 or 4-8-12 ferti-
lizer, containing 2 percent chlorine and 2
to 3 percent soluble magnesium oxide, at rate
of 1500 to 2000 pounds per acre. Place ferti-
lizer in continuous bands 3 to 4 inches to each
side of the row and 1 to 2 inches below the
root crown of the transplant. One-third to
one-half of the fertilizer should be applied at
or before planting, and the remainder three
to five weeks after transplanting.
If side placement machinery is not avail-
able and side placement with other equip-
ment is inconvenient, apply the fertilizer in
the row about a week or 10 days before
transplanting date. Mix it with the soil and
form a small bed over it. In using this
method where soil fumigants have been ap-
plied, avoid mixing the untreated soils in
the middles with the treated soil in the rows.
If heavy rains occur during April or May,
an additional 100 to 300 pounds of an 8-0-24
or equivalent fertilizer may be needed to
properly mature the tobacco.
For best results, set strong, healthy, aphid-
free plants in the field as early in March as
plants are available. Irrigate immediately
after transplanting if irrigation equipment
Sunlight and air are necessary for good
quality leaf. Plants should be no closer than
24 inches in the drill in 3-foot rows, 21 inches
in 3-foot rows or 18 inches in 4-foot rows.
Diseases and Insects
A new circular (268) on black-shank is
now available. Information on other diseases
and their control may be obtained from your
When they are not controlled, insects cause
considerable damage to Florida flue-cured to-
bacco. With proper timing in applications
of recommended insecticides, most damage
can be prevented. Aphids (plant lice), bud-
worms and hornworms are the major insect
pests of tobacco. Grasshoppers, mole-crick-
ets, cutworms and stink bugs also are cap-
able of causing considerable damage. There
are other pests of minor importance but
they are usually no problem if the major
pests are controlled.
When Transplanting Tobacco
Even if insects have not been a serious
problem in the plantbed, make a thorough
application of insecticide a few days before
pulling plants to be transplanted in the field.
(For insecticides and amounts, see Agricul-
tural Extension Service Circular 170A, Plant
Production Guide for Flue-cured Tobacco,
available from your county agricultural
agent.) Do this to assure that clean plants
will go to the field.
Wireworms can usually be controlled by
adding /4 pint of 72-78 percent chlordane
emulsifiable concentrate or /4 pint of 25
percent aldrin or heptachlor emulsifiable con-
centrate to each 50 gallons of water.
Where these materials have not given sat-
isfactory control, use 50 percent Diazinon
wettable powder. For hand transplanter,
mix 11/2 ounces in each 50 gallons of water
and apply 200 to 250 gallons per acre. If
mechanical transplanters are used, mix 3
ounces of 50 percent Diazinon wettable
powder in each 50 gallons of water and apply
about 300 gallons per acre.
Keep the mixture well stirred, especially
when the wettable powder is used.
In fields where wireworms have been se-
vere, a broadcast application may be advis-
able. Use 2 pounds of actual parathion or
INSECT CONTROL CHART
PESTS MATERIAL AMOUNT REMARKS
1% parathion dust 10 to 30 lbs. per acre Apply as needed. For field application,
15% parathion WP* 1 lb. per 100 gals.tt the amount of spray or dust needed will
Aphids 5% malathion dust 10 to 30 lbs. per acre vary with the size of the plants and equip-
(Plant Lice) 25% malathion WP 4 lbs. per 100 gals. ment used. Apply as much as will be
TEPP (40% liquid) % pint per 100 gals. needed to give coverage of the entire
4% Thiodan dust 10 to 30 lbs. per acre plant. Use extreme caution in handling
50% Thiodan WP 1 lb. per t00 gals. TEPP and parathion.
5% or 10% TDE or DDT 15 to 30 lbs. per acre For budworms, direct nozzles in bud of
dust plants. 10% TDE or DDT is more effec-
50% TDE or DDT WP 2 to 3 lbs. in enough water tive against hornworms than 5%. Larger
for an acre plants and larger worms require more
** 1% to % en,,din dJu 15 to 30 lbs. per acre insecticides than smaller plants and worms.
Budworms 10% h..dri..i. 1 to 2 pints in enough water When sprays and dusts are used regularly
and for an acre at 10 to 14-day intervals, little or no
Hornworms 4% Thiodan dust 15 to 30 lbs. per acre damage should occur from budworms and
50% Thiodan WP 1 to 2 lbs. in enough water hornworms. (See Timing, Page 8)
for an acre
5% Sevin dust 15 to 30 Ibs. per acre
50% Sevin WP 2 to 3 lbs. in enough water
for an acre
Cutworms 1% to 2% chlordane bait 20 to 30 lbs. per acre Apply baits broadcast about one week be-
and 5% Toxaphene bait 20 to 30 lbs. per acre fore setting tobacco in the field to prevent
Molecrickets losses. Later applications should be scat-
tered around plants. Keep off plants.
Wireworms See detailed discussion, page 5.
Grasshoppers ** 1% to B % endri ..f.d 15 to 30 lbs. per acre Dust or spray 15 to 30-foot barrier strip
10%% endwi E---C 1 to 2 pints in enough water around field to prevent field infestation.
for an acre If grasshoppers appear in tobacco field,
dust or spray all plants, covering comple-
Tobacco Splitworm See comments on page 8.
Stink bugs 15% parathion WP 2 to 3 lbs. in enough water These insects migrate from nearby field,
for an acre making control more difficult. When good
1 to 2% parathion dust 15 to 30 lbs. per acre coverage of the plants is obtained at reg-
** t1 n o% anAdrin dlAn 15 to 30 ls. per acre ular intervals of 10 to 14 days, these in-
1 '.. ; zrd ri- E-- 1 to 2 pints in enough water sects should not become a major problem.
for an acre When endrin, Thiodan or Sevin is used to
4% Thiodan dust 15 to 30 1;. per acre control budworms ahd hornworms, stink
50% Thiodan WP 1 to 2 lbs. in enough water bugs should not become troublesome.
for an acre
5% Sevin dust 15 to 30 lbs. per acre
50% Sevin WP 2 to 3 lbs. in enough water
for an acre
* WP Wettable powder
t EC Emulsifiable concentrate tt Gals. Gallons of water
NOTE: Equivalent amounts of other formulations of the above materials may be used. Follow directions on the label.
** After this publication went to press, notice was received that the Pesticides Regulation Division, USDA, had withdrawn
label acceptance for the field use of endrin as a spray or dust on tobacco.
Diazinon per acre as a spray or as granules.
Twenty pounds of 10 percent granules or 40
pounds of 5 percent granules will give 2
pounds of actual insecticide.
Broadcast the insecticide evenly over the
soil surface 3 to 5 weeks before transplant-
ing and disk into the upper 6 to 8 inches of
soil. Mixtures of these insecticides with
fertilizers are not recommended.
Properly applied, dusts containing 1 per-
cent parathion and either 5 percent Sevin or
5 percent or 10 percent TDE, or sprays con-
taining comparable amounts of the insecti-
cides, control most pests of tobacco. Thiodan
(see chart), can be used in the same way to
control most tobacco insects.
Tobacco splitworms (potato tubeworms)
have become troublesome in localized areas
during the past three years. Where these
infestations were investigated, it was learned
that parathion had not been used in the in-
sect control program. On the basis of lim-
ited information it is believed that regular
use of parathion will suppress the splitworm.
Since the splitworm enters the leaf from the
lower surface, it is especially important that
the insecticide be directed to completely cov-
er the undersides of leaves.
Apply at Proper Times
Insects may be controlled by making fre-
quent inspections and applying insecticides
at the first sign of damage. Most growers,
however, prefer to follow a regularly-sched-
uled preventive program for aphids, bud-
worms and hornworms. When applications
of Thiodan, or a mixture of parathion and
TDE or of parathion and Sevin, are properly
made at 10 to 14-day intervals, little or no
damage should be caused by these pests. At
times, grasshoppers or stink bugs may re-
quire additional applications of insecticide.
Rain immediately after treatment, or un-
favorable weather conditions during appli-
cation may result in poor control and require
a repeat application.
Insecticides are poisonous and should be
handled with all precautions given on the
label. Always read the manufacturer's label
carefully and completely before opening the
Parathion, TEPP and endrin are highly
toxic and should be handled according to the
special precautions on the label.
If it should become necessary to apply
insecticides during the harvest season, make
the application immediately after cropping
The use of insecticides not recommended
in this circular may result in objectionable
residues on the cured leaf. Do not allow
insecticides being used on other crops to
drift into tobacco fields.
Practice frequent, shallow cultivation. In
cultivating tobacco it is best to use equip-
ment that will work soil to plants and de-
stroy weeds and grass without disturbing the
root system. Anything that discourages
early and prolific root development reduces
yield of the crop.
Irrigation must be blended with other
cultural practices for best results. A gen-
eral recommendation is to irrigate every four
or five days if rain does not occur. When
tobacco is small and irrigation is needed, ap-
ply 1/2-inch of water. As tobacco increases
in size, the amount of irrigation should be
increased. Usually 8/4 to 1 inch per appli-
cation is sufficient when tobacco has attained
full growth. Excess irrigation or rainfall can
reduce the quality of a tobacco crop. (For ad-
ditional information on irrigation, see your
Topping and Suckering
Topping and suckering flue-cured tobacco
has long been recognized as valuable. Most
research indicates there is a 5 to 10 percent
increase in yield with a marked improvement
in quality when tobacco is topped and suck-
Labor becomes more difficult to obtain each
year. Because of the labor shortage it is
very difficult to keep tobacco suckered by
Much research has been directed toward
finding ways to reduce labor requirements
for suckering tobacco. A suckerless variety
was developed, but was discarded because
of inferior leaf quality; many hormone ma-
terials have been tested, but none has been
MH-30 has been used extensively in sucker
control for several years. The Extension
Service recommends neither for nor against
use of MH-30; however, if MH-30 is used
to control suckers, the precautions given
below should be observed carefully to prevent
undesirable tobacco, which will be penalized
heavily under the new grading system and
accompanying price support program.
How and When to Top
An average tonnage of tobacco can usual-
ly be expected by topping at 16 leaf height.
However, the best height for topping will
depend on fertility of the soil, variety, sea-
sonal conditions and the appearance of plants
at topping time. A uniform stand of tobacco
that has grown evenly is ideal. A poor stand
with numerous replants makes it difficult to
decide when topping should be done.
Many varieties of tobacco will flower over
a period of several days. A good rule of
thumb is to wait until 90 to 95 percent of
the plants are in full flower and then uni-
priming lugs, a two-week waiting period may
be needed before weekly harvests begin.
Weather and other environmental factors
will determine this interval. Ripe tobacco
cures easily and ripeness has much to do
Many barns need additional vents. Open
flame burners used in barns create a mois-
ture problem that can be solved only by good
Wet weather at harvest time, coupled with
high fertility, may require coloring temper-
ature of 100 to 105 degrees instead of the
usual 90 to 95 degrees (see Extension Cir-
cular 252 for details).
Tobacco should be stored in a tight but
ventilated house. After it has been stored
for a week or 10 days it (the lugs especially)
should be examined for mold or other dam-
age, and repacked. Always cover the stored
tobacco with burlap or other covers to prevent
bleaching which is caused by light. Tobacco
stored on the sticks will be easier to keep
than tobacco bulked down after being re-
moved from the sticks.
Storage space should be arranged so tobac-
co can be removed from the sticks and sold
in the same order as it was harvested. Lugs
and primings always should be taken to the
sales first, and leaf tobacco and tips should
be sold during the middle and last of the
This guide was prepared by S. L. Brothers, Assistant
Agronomist and J. E. Brogdon, Entomologist, in
cooperation with L. C. Kuitert and A. N. Tissot,
Entomologists, Agricultural Experiment Station.
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