September 7, 2007

Changes in the weather pattern for the weekend and early next week could help tobacco producers who have been struggling to cure their crop during recent weeks of hot, dry conditions. 

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

Tobacco that was harvested and hung in barns under the recent hot, dry conditions has a tendency to cure very rapidly, especially under windy conditions. So, producers have been closing tobacco barn doors to reduce the effect of overdrying tobacco. However, weekend weather changes will mean a change in management techniques.

The weather models currently are indicating increased moisture and rainfall across the state through next week, said Tom Priddy, agricultural meteorologist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. 

The unrelenting heat that has held a tight grip on Kentucky gradually will submit to a series of disturbances that will move through the region during the next several days, causing temperatures to slide back into the 80s and by late next week into the 70s, he said. The potential for significant rainfall is not as bright, but chances of showers are in the forecast for the next several days.

As a result, tobacco 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 Gary Palmer, UK Extension Tobacco Specialist. 

"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."


Tom Priddy, 859-257-3000, ext. 300, Gary Palmer, 859-257-8667