Posted 28 January 2015. PMN Crop News.
A Challenging Curing and Stripping Season
Pennsylvania tobacco growers battle high instances of mold as they cure and strip their 2014 crop
Source: Penn State University Press Release. agsci.psu.edu
University Park, Pennsylvania (January 6, 2015)--In 2014, Pennsylvania’s tobacco crop was approximately 10,000 acres. In recent years the acreage and value has seen a resurgence making tobacco an important cash crop for many of our smaller Amish and Mennonite farms. A good yield of high quality tobacco can gross as much as $5,000 per acre for a gross income to the state’s tobacco growing community of over $40 million dollars.Today three different types of tobacco are grown here in PA, including the traditional PA Type 41 which is used for cigar wrappers and binders as well as MD 609, and Burly which are primarily used for cigarettes.
The plants are cured in special tobacco barns and once dry, they are moved into cellars to moisten the leaves so that they can be handled without tearing and crumbling. Individual leaves are then stripped off of each plant and made into bales for sale. This year the very damp and cloudy weeks in November and December have added excessive moister to the plants while hanging in the tobacco barns. This has in some cases caused molds to develop and begin to grow, potentially affecting the quality and salability of the crop. Currently, leaf samples are being diagnosed to determine which molds have developed. This diagnosis may help us better control the situation. Farmers are encouraged to maintain good ventilation within their barns. Also, stripping and handling the crop as dry as possible without damaging the leaves is recommended. Unfortunately, little can be done to remedy the situation, other than to closely manage uninfected barns and to strip and bale unaffected tobacco in a timely manner.