Blue Mold Threatens Tobacco (284)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Blue mold, which can destroy or seriously damage tobacco crops, has been confirmed in a Middle Tennessee tobacco bed, a University of Tennessee plant scientist said Monday.

 Dr. Donald Fowlkes of the UT Agricultural Extension Service said the state’s first case this year of blue mold was confirmed in Maury County.

 “All growers statewide need to begin keeping a very close eye on their tobacco, whether it’s already in the field, plant bed, float bed or greenhouse,” Fowlkes said.

 Treatment with a blue mold fungicide, such as Acrobat, should be started immediately on all bedding or greenhouse plants, Fowlkes said.

 “We need to make sure we protect the plants that have not gone to the field,” Fowlkes said.

 Ridomil, in past years a very effective fungicide for blue mold, is no longer recommended because the mold has grown resistant to the treatment, Fowlkes said.

 The Maury County outbreak was confirmed late Friday afternoon in a conventional bed of burley tobacco, Fowlkes said.

 “I understand the bed has been destroyed, but the evidence indicates the blue mold had been in the bed a week or two,” Fowlkes said.

 Mold spores probably were carried to the tobacco by wind.

“We had a forecast last week of some wind movement out of North Carolina and Georgia that could carry spore into our area,” Fowlkes said. “We must have had the right conditions sometime before that.”

 Other weather factors during the past week, including mild temperatures and rain, have been near ideal for blue mold growth.

 “What would really help would be some warm weather and bright sun,” Fowlkes said.

 Last year, blue mold in North Carolina wiped out one-fourth of the state’s burley tobacco crop.

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 Contact: Dr. Donald Fowlkes (423-974-7208)