Tobacco crop threatened by excessive rain in Kentucky, Georgia

A field of Tobacco sits ready to be harvested on October 5, 2012 in Owings, Maryland.

Tobacco is a drought resistant plant. But this year, the weather has been anything but dry in major tobacco growing states like Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia.

The unusual amount of rain in the South this year and this year is threatening the tobacco crop, says J. Michael Moore, an agronomist at the University of Georgia’s extension program.

I’m very concerned,” Moore says. “For the last three weeks in Georgia we’ve had almost daily rainfall.”

Moore says that Georgia hasn’t this much rain since 1971 and growers there have lost crops to flooding. The rain has also been pouring down in Kentucky, the country’s second largest tobacco state. According to one report, the state’s tobacco yield could be slashed by up to 25 percent and cost up to $100 million.

The rain isn’t just hurting the crops but disrupting the farming process, says David Reed, with Virginia Tech’s extension program.

Excessive rainfall affects growth of the tobacco, but it also affects how they work the tobacco in the field,” Reed says.

The rain is washing away fertilizer and insects are becoming a problem. But with wet fields, farmers can’t get the machinery in to address these issues. The hope is the weather will dry up soon.

 

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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