Flue-cured tobacco: alternative management systems

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Virginia Tech


The United States share of the exported flue-cured tobacco market has decreased over the last decade as other countries have increased production of improved quality tobacco. Such tobacco is available at a substantially lower price than U. S. tobacco and thus desirable for the manufacture of less expensive discount cigarettes. Although world consumption of American style cigarettes is increasing, demand is not sufficient to maintain current production levels of premium quality U. S. flue-cured tobacco. Production systems that increase yields of suitable quality tobacco for discount cigarette manufacture without increasing production costs would allow tobacco to be offered competitively on the world market while maintaining current income. A study of ten management systems was conducted evaluating the influence of plant spacing, topping height, and harvest method on yield and quality of flue-cured tobacco. Leaf populations of 538,000/ha harvested once-over resulted in a 6.5%, 11.0%, 6.0%, and 13.5% increase in yield, value, price, and grade index, respectively, compared to the standard treatment. An expert panel showed no preference among systems and judged all systems acceptable in quality. A study conducted as a randomized complete block in a split plot arrangement evaluated the influence of row spacing and plant spacing on the yield and quality of flue-cured tobacco harvested once-over. Yield, value, and grade index increased while price per kg was unchanged as plant population increased. Flue-cured tobacco harvested in a single harvest produced cured leaf of acceptable quality; however, increased leaf populations are required to maintain acceptable yields.



topping height, row width, plant spacing, onceover harvest