Effects of variety and harvest management on cured leaf quality and TSNA content of burley tobacco.
A study was conducted to determine the relative effects of variety, transplant/harvest date, and harvest management on leaf quality and TSNA content of burley tobacco. Six varieties were evaluated at two transplant/harvest dates at three locations. For each date, all plots were cut on the same day. Harvest management treatments included pick up from the field on the same day as cutting, three days after cutting, six days after cutting, and ten days after cutting. When data were combined across locations, transplant/harvest dates, and harvest management practices, varieties had a minimal effect on cured leaf quality. However, much larger effects on quality were observed between transplant/harvest dates and among harvest management treatments, particularly when rainfall occurred while the tobacco was in the field. In the absence of rainfall, the grade index for the earlier transplant/harvest date was 19 points higher than for the later date. Leaving the tobacco in the field for up to six days before pick-up resulted in a relatively small decrease in the grade index if no rainfall occurred; four tobacco companies that evaluated the cured leaf preferred tobacco that had been left in the field six days rather than three days in terms of usability and price per pound. However, waiting ten days before pick-up resulted in a noticeable decrease in quality. Rainfall occurring shortly after cutting resulted in a 30-50 point drop in the grade index, regardless of how long the tobacco remained in the field. A subset of the varieties is being analyzed for TSNA content, with results to be presented at the TSRC meeting.