Wet weather a problem for tobacco growers.
Frequent rains have kept our part of Kentucky much wetter than usual for this time of the year. Temperatures have been cooler than normal. The weather conditions have created a pleasantly green look to the countryside that's unusual for the 12th of August. Dennis has been mowing the yard at least once a week since April.
Unfortunately, the cool, wet summer has also been favorable for the growth of blue mold, a tobacco disease. Tobacco growers have been urged to monitor their fields carefully, because the mold spores drift on the lightest breeze.
If caught early enough, the spread of the disease in a field can be limited with treatments of fungicide. Such chemicals are expensive, but it's better than losing the entire crop. Leaves that have been damaged with blue mold are worthless.
Blue mold overwinters in the tropics where it infects winter-grown tobacco and native Nicotiana species. When summer weather systems carry the mold spores into our area and the conditions are favorable, the spores grow.
Blue mold really likes damp, cool, summer weather, lots of fog, and/or a field that is low-lying or shaded. Most years, blue mold shows up somewhere in Kentucky, but when we have a typical, hot, dry summer, the disease usually doesn't become an epidemic.
I suspect that the field of tobacco in the photograph has blue mold. It definitely is diseased; the leaves are wilting. I was shocked when I drove by and saw the plants in such a condition. Just a few weeks before, I had photographed the same field, and the tobacco was tall, lush, and very green.