October 6, 1999 | By: Haven Miller

Fast-curing burley tobacco is giving producers yellowish, variegated leaves this season instead of the desired tan or brown uniform leaves. Growers, however, can employ certain management techniques to reduce the problem.

"Producers should wait as long as possible to strip," said George Duncan, Extension agricultural engineer in the UK College of Agriculture. "This will allow cured leaves to be exposed to periods of high relative humidity which will help get better leaf color. Once the bright colored leaves are stripped and placed in the bale, the leaf won't be subject to the daily moisture changes that potentially help color."

Growers should try to open vent doors at night or during periods of high humidity, and keep them closed in dry periods during the day. "The idea is to allow the moisture of evenings and rainy days to migrate into the curing structure and bring the tobacco into "case" or "order" which means leaves being in a pliable or non-shattering condition," said Duncan. "For those who want to wet down the ground of the barn to add humidity, do this in the late afternoon or early evening when the added moisture will work for you and not against you as the calm winds and higher outside humidity at night will let more of the added moisture remain in the barn."

For field curing structures, producers should keep top covers over the structure and tobacco to protect from rain, but leave the sides open at night to allow moisture to move into the tobacco. On sunny days, sides can be left open as the tobacco will dry whether covered or not from the sun's heat.

"The main benefit of side covers is protecting tobacco from wind and rain that might darken and deteriorate the outer leaves," said Duncan. "A compromise option is to leave the windward side covers down to protect against wind and rain, but leave the leeward, or downwind, side open for moisture penetration at night."


Writer: Haven Miller (606) 257-3784
George Duncan 606-257-3000