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Tobacco root

Tobacco root

Plowing tobacco roots

Tractor pulling plow to turn over tobacco roots


Reduce 9 Pests was a phrase coined by Dr. Furney Todd, former Tobacco Disease Specialist, to reduce 9 pests in tobacco (Granville wilt, Black shank, root-knot nematodes, tobacco mosaic virus, brown spot, hornworms, budworms, flea beetles and grass/weeds) and it is still a critical management tool today to help with future tobacco crops. This program focused on cutting stalks, disking/plowing out root systems, two weeks later disking under all crop residue and seeding a cover crop. This is reminder as tobacco farmers are familiar with this program, but I often see timeliness issues in completing these steps. 

Roots and stalks should be destroyed after harvest regardless of whether disease was observed. To be EFFECTIVE, this must be accomplished as soon as possible.  

Stalk and Root Destruction

1. Cut stalks in small pieces when harvest is complete.

2. Disk or plow out root systems the day stalks are cut. Be sure to remove root system entirely from the soil. If using a sweet potato plow, be sure it is set correctly or use a heavy disk.

3. Return to field 2 weeks later and disk the field again. This provides additional root kill and exposes different areas of the roots to drying action of the sun and wind.

4. Seed cover crop. The tobacco root system needs to be completely dead prior to seeding cover crop.

When properly implemented, this program is highly effective because causal agents that attack tobacco are adapted to survive best in association with living tobacco tissue. Granville wilt lives poorly in the soil if separated from the protection of plant tissue. The decay of plant residue soon after harvest decreases the numbers of bacteria present in the soil to initiate wilt in the future. Root Knot nematodes are very sensitive to drying; if root tissue surrounding them decays, they are exposed to the drying action of the wind and sun.

The value of R-9-P is the quality of the job and the timeliness completed.