Blue Mold Tobacco Threat Eases With Sunshine (175)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– A few more days of bright sunshine would do a lot to reduce the threat of blue mold to Tennessee’s burley tobacco crop, a University of Tennessee plant specialist said Friday.

 “The good news is we have had some sunshine and we are looking at a few more days of it,” Fowlkes said. “Blue mold spore won’t last long in bright sun.”

 Fowlkes said two more Tennessee counties, Hickman and Greene, reported blue mold cases this week.

 “But the explosion of mold that I was expecting hasn’t happened.”

 Blue mold is a fungus that can damage or kill tobacco plants. With a value of $225 million last year, tobacco was Tennessee’s fourth largest cash crop.

 Heavy rains may actually have worked to farmers advantage, holding air-borne blue mold spore to the ground in much the same way storms clear the air of dust, Fowlkes said.

 Other counties which have had confirmed cases of blue mold this year are Maury and Williamson in Middle Tennessee and Claiborne, Hancock, and Grainger in East Tennessee.

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