Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tobacco planting begins

Posted By JEFF HELSDON — QMI Agency

Warm, dry weather last week made way for tobacco producers to start planting Thursday.

Only a few were in the fields, though, as most were expected to start on Monday.

"Typically anytime after the 20th of May planting starts in earnest, but that is so weather dependent," said Fred Neukamm, chairman of the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board. "We've had a lot of rain that slowed so many farm activities, not just tobacco. It delayed the remainder of corn planting, soybean planting and the soil needs to be properly drained for tobacco."

Neukamm pointed to the significant rain last week as the culprit, saying he still saw pooling of water in low spots in fields this week.

"That has to drain away before you could cultivate or start planting," he said.

Although the cooler, cloudy weather that accompanied the rain could slow plant growth in the greenhouse, Neukamm said typically as planting time approaches farmers are trying to hold back plants in the greenhouse or toughen them up through clipping. Tougher plants, he explained, are "less susceptible to transplant shock and more vigorous once they are in the field."

The crop to be planted is 49.5 million pounds of tobacco with an acreage of 20,331 acres. The number of licensees grew from 118 last year, which was the first year under contracting, to 264 this year.

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