Comparison of Two Different Organic Fertilizer Sources for Flue-Cured Tobacco
Limited research is available to farmers and extension personnel seeking nitrogen fertilization recommendations for organic production of flue-cured tobacco in the Southside of Virginia. With growth in organic tobacco production in the area due to an increase in contracts offered by Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, the need for independent research on fertilization for the crop became clear. Research was conducted to compare the effects of the current organic tobacco fertilizer (8-5-5) to a new product considered to be more readily available (3-2-3) on flue-cured tobacco at the Southern Piedmont Agriculture & Research Extension Center near Blackstone, Virginia for the 2015 crop year. The effects of total nitrogen rate were also analyzed at rates of 65, 85, and 105 lbs of nitrogen to the acre. Additionally, sidedress applications of two products 13-0-0 and 16-0-0 were evaluated. Production other than fertilization treatments followed those of conventional tobacco. Plots were soil sampled a total of six times throughout the season and evaluated for nitrogen and ammonium content. Petiole samples of the fourth leaf from the top were taken from four plants in each plot four times throughout the season. Petioles were crushed and the extract analyzed for nitrate content. Total yields were determined after four harvests and the cured leaf graded for quality. Test results did not indicated a nitrogen rate effect for yield but there was a significant increase in yield with the 3-2-3 fertilizer compared to the 9-5-5.