50th TWC, Tob. Work. Conf., 2022, abstr. 48

Effects of harvest timing and variety selection on flue-cured tobacco holding-ability

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA

The propensity for flue-cured tobacco leaves to retain or improve their visual quality and economic value over an extended period of time is referred to as “holding-ability”. General holding-ability models that are specific to popular varieties are not available to commercial farmers. Research was conducted at five locations from 2009 to 2014 to determine the effect of flue-cured tobacco variety and upper-stalk harvest timing to cured leaf yield, visual quality, price, and economic value.  Two commercial varieties, K326 and NC196, were evaluated within each location, with upper-stalk leaf harvest schedule as follows: 7 days under-ripe (Day 0), 3 days over-ripe (Day 10), 13 days over-ripe (Day 20), 23 days over-ripe (Day 30), and 33 days over-ripe (Day 40).  The measured parameters were not influenced by variety selection, thus indicating that K326 and NC196 are likely to have similar ripening patterns and holding-ability when produced under the same growing conditions.  Quadratic responses for harvest timing were significant for cured leaf measurements. Yield and visual quality were greatest at Day 17 and 20, respectively. Cured leaf price continued to increase until Day 25, although maximum economic value per acre was obtained at Day 20 and 21 (US$ 3,041 a-1). Increases in yield, quality, and value from Day 0 through 20 suggest that a two week delay in the harvest of upper-stalk leaves may prove to be financially advantageous to farmers. (Reprinted with permission)