How to Grow Tobacco

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 Post subject: Ready to start picking?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:56 pm 
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Posts: 2056
Hi --

Ok, I'm posting pics here of my plants as they stand right now. The colors look right on my monitor. These are Silk Leaf and there's a Marlboro pack on one for scale. I planted late and I think these are stunted (I know it). I saw some members had grown Silk Leaf before and I could use some input: How tall on average do they grow? How big is the leaf? How do these look compared to the ones you've grown?

The bottom leaves, which I call Juniors, may have yellowed shortly after planting out so they don't count (can I use these anyhow? ((and why am I thinking in parenthesis)) maybe I should dry and use them for filler? Whatever that is....) Should I have a question mark after that last paren? Decisions, decisions.....

Just so you'll know, I planted late (did I mention that already? ((and why am I still thinking in parens?))) so many bolted to flower within 3 weeks of planting out. Enough talking about the seedmakers....You can see the flowering plants in the farthest place away from where I took the pic, I'd call it the background, but then I'd have to use more parens....

So, shall I start taking leaves now or not? Enquiring minds NEED to know!

Bob

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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:15 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 9:20 am
Posts: 261
Location: montana
try runnin a tiller down the center of each row - looks like they are stunting cause the earth is too solid


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:36 pm 
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hi --

I'm pretty sure the reason they stunted is because I planted too late. The 100 plants I planted 3 weeks after the first 120 almost all bolted to flower right away. I think I have to plant tobacco out as soon as the last average frost date comes, that's late March here N. of Dallas.

We do have heavy clay here which I cut with a large amount of compost. I plowed and cross plowed about 18 inches deep, then spread compost and tilled and tilled with my tractor. I also used pelleted sulphur to acidify the alkaline soils here.

Should I start taking the bottom leaves yet? We're nearing the top heat of the summer where almost everything dies anyway, maybe I should wait until it's more obvious?

Can I waste the leaves by picking them too late?

Thanks, Bob


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:52 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:13 pm
Posts: 1155
Location: Nashville TN
bob_kemp wrote:
hi --

I'm pretty sure the reason they stunted is because I planted too late. The 100 plants I planted 3 weeks after the first 120 almost all bolted to flower right away. I think I have to plant tobacco out as soon as the last average frost date comes, that's late March here N. of Dallas.

We do have heavy clay here which I cut with a large amount of compost. I plowed and cross plowed about 18 inches deep, then spread compost and tilled and tilled with my tractor. I also used pelleted sulphur to acidify the alkaline soils here.

Should I start taking the bottom leaves yet? We're nearing the top heat of the summer where almost everything dies anyway, maybe I should wait until it's more obvious?

Can I waste the leaves by picking them too late?

Thanks, Bob

As Imawhat said, solid ground will affect growth too, but so can late planting. I personally think it could be a matter of both. Reason I think the ground could be a factor is that 12 or so plants down the rows I see I spike in growth and a more lush an fuller appearence. That tells be there is more favorable ground there. The plants will flower before the leaves are ripe, have any at all been topped yet? How old are they? If you ask me most of those plants still have a couple of weeks before I'd start picking. The bottom leaves that are yellow won't add up much, but go ahead and pick them if you wish. Leave the rest that are still green or even slightly yellow. They could use some time.


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:37 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:13 am
Posts: 2056
Hi --

Planted the seeds around late Feb. and planted out to the field 120 around 2rd week of April and another 100 around 1st week of May. The May planting was almost a total wash, within weeks had bolted. The earlier ones have mostly grown normally, and have all flowered and been topped within the last couple of weeks or longer, then continued putting out new leaves. Some have reflowered too.

I had one plant die suddenly, overnight, massive wilt and no recovery the next day. May be some soil fungus, I'm going to pull the roots today and make pictures. I harvested the leaves to that plant and posted the pics in my picture gallery, some of them are bright yellow, others are very green, and every color in between.

Thanks,

Bob


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 4:29 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:13 pm
Posts: 1155
Location: Nashville TN
I think you're doing everything you can so far given the situation.


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:07 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:44 am
Posts: 905
Location: North-central Texas
Bob:
I know this is last year's post, but it seems to describe my situation too. I transplanted first of May and first of June and the June planting is going nowhere. The first of May planting is 4 ft. tall and going to flower. Looks like we have to transplant first of April around here, would you agree on that timing?
That would mean planting seed last of Jan to have them ready first of April. Does all that sound right on timing? I gotta do a better job next year or I'm wasting time and money.
Will appreciate your advice and hope to see you again one of these days.
Neal


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:17 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:13 am
Posts: 2056
Hi --

Considering it's your first year, 4 feet high might be how they go. Silk Leaf isn't a huge plant. I assume those are the ones you are talking about. Most of my full sized ones last year went 5 feet tall with about 12 good leaves. Of course, I didn't spike them with nitrogen and certainly planted them late.

Several things cause bolting to flower early. Low nitrogen. Stunted in pots before planted out. Protracted periods of cloud cover. This year, I planted way late, but I know they used to put in three crops a year here in our grandfathers' day, so they should grow ok anyhow (crosses fingers). I only have dead batteries here or I'd show some pics, but the ones I planted the longest time ago (sometime in late may) are already 2 feet tall and still growing strong. I hit them with a shot of liquid high nitrogen fertilizer about a week ago. This is in addition to a tbs or so of granular high nitrogen, timed release fertilizer I put in the hole pre-plant.

The main difference this year besides late planting for me is that I put out the plants while they were still in a rush of growing. Last year, they had already started losing bottom leaves yellow (typical for nightshade family plants) before I got them out. I think they are still in the rush of growing now and I hope to keep them there by judicious watering and applications of high N fertilizer (but probably no more after this last shot).

Don't worry, if you have 4 foot plants flowering, be sure to top the the flowers and watch the suckers (pull them off). The leaves will continue growing bigger. I got 24-30 inch leaves off my silk leaf last year.

Bob


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:57 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:03 am
Posts: 2704
Neal

Pay attention to the two different plantings and how they do . Of course anyone can luck up and grow a few plants one year . But like you say you need to do better next year and you can . Pay attention to what does best this year and tune your dates to fit that next year .

But I agree with setting them earlier so long as your not setting so early it's to cold to grow . Given the fact that the first ones are that big and ones just a few weeks later are so small I think your precisly correct with your thinking .

And yea timing is everything . You want the youngest plant possable set early as possable for your zone . Chances are great that the bigger plants are bigger simply because they were planted closer to your proper planting dates .

With your watering it should be easy to see it's not a water problem . So whats making the difference in size ? If you feed them the same it shouldn't be food doing it . Whats left ??

It's more to it than just water . In the proper planting dates you have cooler days maybe helping them get a better start . Probably many more reasons who knows . But just pay attention to what works and aim for those conditions next year and you should consistantly do better each year .

Another thing about timing . Sure I suppose many things will effect flowering time . However the single most thing that influences flowering is the age of the plants . Timing , timing and timming is where it's at .

Had I lagged around and not set early I wouldn't have a main crop due to the drout . Had I had my main crop ready to set on May 15th like my turkish I'd have a killer crop and would be topping 6 foot Havana plants not 3 foot havana plants .

Just about 3 weeks in setting made that much difference to my main crop . That sounds very much like what your saying too huh ?? So pay attention and if common sense tells you hey this got so much bigger than that did . Go with your instincts on that it will most likley pay off big time .


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:03 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:44 am
Posts: 905
Location: North-central Texas
My instinct and gardening exprience tells me that mid-April is the time to plant, we get good rains in april and may, but by June we're in the 90's for highs. But to have 40-50 day old plants by mid-april means seeding in early March , when the house temp is still in the low 70's. So I need to work on a way to heat my grow area to the mid 80's to get good growth. My thought is to use 2 sets of grow lights closer to the plants (3-4 in) and cover the whole thing with clear plastic with vent. and monitor it closely. Then move to outside float trays mid march (temps. 68-47) with some kind of cover to control temps out there. Would appreciate any advice on how to set up float trays to get good growth in the cool spring weather. Also a grow set up to raise temps without toasting the plants/seeds.
Neal


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:29 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:28 pm
Posts: 159
This is the second year for planting for us. And both times we planted early to mid May. That way the majority of the storms are done, and it's starting to heat up outside. The plants love as much heat as possible. They seem to thrive on it. Gotta love north Texas weather. Heh.


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:01 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:44 am
Posts: 905
Location: North-central Texas
Dave T:
Yea you gotta love this weather, looks like we're gonna be 100+ for the next few weeks (or more!). Tobacco loves it as long as they have soil moisture. Ideal here would be drip irrigation, but I can't afford it.
Agree with you early-mid May should be ideal transplant date, young plants would grow better mid Mar-mid May, use April to till up garden and float young plants. Ave. temps in april 56-77, may 64-84. Still get rain in may and june. The plot I planted mid May has grown well, just didn't get control of the suckers in time, won't make that mistake again. And if we get grasshoppers, early planting will be a must. They hit when it's hot and dry.
Good luck with yours.
Neal


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:18 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:13 am
Posts: 2056
Hi --

I think early May would be about the latest time I'd set tobacco transplants out here given ideal conditions (not that I've managed to do it in the last two years!). I'm going to continue to target starting planting the first or second week of April here for several reasons. We're going to start the plants again in late February, like the last week of the month. By the 15th of March, we'll try to be transplanting them to 4" pots and put them in the greenhouse, it'll be warm enough in there by then.

First thing is that the population of bugs hasn't peaked or even gotten large yet then, so the attrition due to huge numbers of hornworms and armyworms &etc. won't be as bad.

Next, I think the young plants will have an easier time growing before the hotter temps show up. It's plenty warm enough with days in the 70's and nights in the mid to upper 50's for them to get started. It will also reduce the plants from getting leggy (same for tomatoes, 50's night temps keeps the plants more squat). More squat plants should also reduce the tendency of them falling over later.

I also like the increasing day lengths during April and May. It's possible the plants won't tend to bolt to flower as quickly if every day is longer than the last. This could result in bigger plants with more leaves to harvest.

Finally, that's how I grow tomatoes! I get them out in the ground as soon as I'm pretty sure there will be no more frost!

Bob


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:21 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:03 am
Posts: 2704
Neal

With float trays and this tobacco covers you could set them outside in 50 degrees and have plants ready to set in 8 to 10 weeks . But they too old and gonna bud early on you robbing some of your crop .

Good thing is they easy to warm up even with 40 to 50 degree temps outside. Any type of hot water eliment could warm up the water in your float bed . With heated water you could have 5 inch sets ready in 35 days easy enough . Thats what your after hand setting , 5 inch plants that are 35 days old about one week to 10 days after your earliest transplant date .

Set them during your wet season to give them a good start before it gets dry . Thats what we have to do here and I'd guess that approach would work best anywhere . Especially in locations it gets so hot . A few weeks back in that dry conditions we were having 104 temps with a heat index of like 111 . They need established if possable before then :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: Harvesting Overview
PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:54 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:28 pm
Posts: 159
lipantxguy, go to Walmart in their garden section and find the hoses. They sell this flat hose that is 75 feet long. You can hook more up to it by a connector at the end, but I've found that 150 foot is the max to have a decent drip (pressure in the line). And that's all that hose is. It's really just a drip hose inside this sheath. Don't ever get one of those recycled rubber soaker hoses. They suck. They'll spray the plant, and if you have sprayed them for bugs, it's not good.

But basically, I just run them next to the plant stalks, held in place with some wire 'staples' into the ground every 3 feet or so. If you want, you can regulate the pressure so that it's just barely coming out. Then just leave it running. I usually run it for 30 minutes a day. And they're cheap too. 12 bucks for 75 feet.

And yeah, this 100+ weather is getting old, but it's that time of year. Check into it if it's possible for you to use. It works great for me. Already have the majority of the plants at a 6-7 foot hight so far. They're thirsty plants. The bigger they get, the more they need. =:D


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