Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Bad Year for Blue Mold

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.


Canuckguy said...

Good for the mould. Good riddance to tobacco.
Tobacco kills.
Legalize pot and tax it as kills a lot fewer.
Plus it would reduce the jailbird population.

It's a win/win situation.
The USA should have learned from the failure of the alcohol ban.

Genevieve said...

Oh, puh-leeze. *rolling eyes* Tobacco is a legal crop and an important component in Kentucky's farm economy.

I have a great deal of respect for my tobacco-farmer neighbors because I see how hard they work. When the crop fails, they've lost a tremendous amount of time and effort as well as the income.

I don't advocate smoking anything. It's all hard on your lungs.

RunAwayImagination said...

I noticed a streak of blue on the grass the other day while mowing. It must have been blue mold.

Genevieve said...

Are you sure that blue streak wasn't caused by mowing much too fast? (Just kidding!)

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