Growing tobacco organically - AprJun 2009
What you have to remember if you want to grow tobacco organically
- You need land on which no chemical fertilizer, herbicide, insecticide or other synthetic chemical has been applied for three years. Land that has been “rested” or fallow and is high in organic matter is often very suitable.
- Fertility elements must be all natural. Good natural sources of potash, phosphorus and lime are available. Composted poultry manure, fish and blood meal are ideal sources of nitrogen. Blood meal or fish meal make a good side-dressing. Natural phosphates, bone meal or seaweed extracts can be used to supply minerals.
- Variety choice is crucial. Seek varieties that are resistant to the diseases you have because there are no organic control agents for diseases such as blue mold, black shank or Granville wilt.
- No herbicides are acceptable in organic production. Cultivations and hand-hoeing will help keep weeds in check through the critical growing period.
- Insect control requires planning. Control insects by planting companion crops that attract and favor beneficial insects and birds, and by the use of organically approved products. Sunflowers planted alongside the tobacco crop improve aphid control. Organic insecticidal soaps also help. Budworms are controlled by placing a pinch of Bt bait in each bud.
- Chemical suckering agents cannot be used. Suckers can be stunted by carefully applying soybean or mineral oil to the top of the plant. Be sure the oil runs down the stalk and into each leaf axil to get good control.