From FCC Express, by Owen Roberts
Ontario’s 250 tobacco farmers are being urged to monitor their fields for blue mold, another of the many wet-weather diseases that could threaten specialty crops this growing season.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs says tobacco blue mold was confirmed earlier this month in some fields in tobacco-producing American states — Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
It says the disease has yet to be found in Ontario fields.
“But growers should be monitoring their fields regularly for signs of this disease,” says the ministry. “Blue mold can develop and spread rapidly under cool, moist conditions.”
Like many Ontario crops, tobacco has endured some extraordinary challenges this growing season. For example, only a few weeks ago, the crop showed signs of heat and moisture stress. Irrigation kept many growers busy, but severe wilting of the upper leaves of tobacco plants was still observed in some fields.
That was followed by an earlier-than-expected appearance by pests like hornworms and, in some fields, Japanese beetles. There were also isolated reports of tobacco mosaic virus and target spot.
And in many places in Ontario, farmers were hoping rain would stop.
Tobacco growers have an additional reason for wanting a clear road ahead. The Chinese market has significantly boosted demand for tobacco from Ontario and elsewhere. Tobacco production in Ontario has risen more than 15 per cent this year, with about 62 million pounds expected to be harvested.