In Andhra Pradesh, VFC tobacco is grown during Rabi season (October-March). Nursery is sown during August-September so that seedlings of two months age and of proper size are ready foe transplanting in October-November. Nurseries are raise in a phased manner so that seedlings are available over a period of time.
Selection of well drained and healthy soil is very important for tobacco nurseries.
The following points are important;
It is better to change the nursery site every year to minimize the pests, diseases and to eliminate the contamination of varieties, if any. If for any reason, it is not possible to change the nursery site, the old site should be sterilized by rabbing it with any slow burning material like paddy husk or by fumigation. This will kill the soil-borne diseases, nematodes and weed seeds.
The nursery sit should be deep-ploughed twice in summer (April-May) as it will expose and desicate the eggs and larva of the nematodes.
Heavy soil could be made porous by mixing 200 cart-loads (100 tones) of sand per hectare in the top layers.
Black Soils:Kanakaprabha Jayasri, Godavari Special, CTRI Spl., Jayasri (MR)
Southern Light Soils:Jayasri, Jayasri (MR), CTRI Special, Hema and Gouthmai
Northern Light Soils:McNair-12, 16/103
PREPARATION OF NURSERY BEDS
The beds should be about 1.22 meters wide and about 10 metres in length. In between the beds there should be about 0.5 metre wide channel.
Farmyard manure or filter press cake is applied at 50 cart-loads per hectare by mixing well in the top layers of the bed at least 20 days before sowing. Basal application of 502 gm of ammonium sulphate, 100 gm of potassium sulphate, 300 gm of superphospate and 100 gm of dolomite per 10 sq.m.bed is found to be beneficial.
SEED RATE AND SOWING TIME
A seed rate of 3 kg per hectare would be enough. Use only tested and approved varieties. The ideal time of sowing is mid August to mid September. Pre-treatment of seeds by soaking with 50 ppm gibberelic acid for 48 hours and drying before commencement of sowing gives better germination even under adverse weather conditions.
USE OF APPROVED SEED AND HEALTHY SEEDLINGS
Use only pure seeds. The Directorate of Tobacco Development, Madras, Central Tobacco Research Institute, Rajahmundry and the ILTD Division of ITC Ltd., Rajahmundry are engaged in the production of quality seed and seedlings.
WEEDING AND WATERING
The nursery bed should be kept weed-free. Water the beds 6-8 times per day. The beds should be moist but not wet till germination is over.
After germination of seed, apply ammonium sulphate twice at 4 days interval @ 25 gm per 10 sq. meter bed and thereafter thrice at 4 days interval @ 56 gm/bed. Each top dressing should be followed by copious watering to wash off the fertilizers from the leaves.
In light soil areas, nitrogen through DAP as basal, followed by nitrate sources as top dressings improved seedlings production by about 35 per cent.
HARDENING OF SEEDLINGS
Hardened seedlings withstand the strain of transplanting better. This could be done by withholding water two or three days before pulling.
I. BLACK SOILS
Selection of site
Select elevated areas with a gentle slope. Low lying lands, tand beds, wet paddy lands and salind soils should be avoided. The soils which have been put to heavy dose of nitrogen in the preceding season may also be avoided.
Preparation of field
The crop is raised as a dry crop on conserved soil moisture in the traditional areas even under drought conditions. It is, therefore, necessary to keep the field in such condition that it absorbs maximum rain water during monsoon season.
In summer, deep tillage with heavy duty tractor or crow barring is beneficial for absorption and retention of rain water, exposure of weed seeds, roots and soil pathogens to the scorching sun of summer. With the onset of rain the land may be tilled by gorru to level the plot. In addition two or three ploughings with country plough during the monsoon period and one or two harrowings before planting should be sufficient.
Application of well decomposed farm yard manure at 2.5 tonnes per hectare six weeks before planting once in two years and thereafter application of inorganic fertilizers at 30 kg N, 50 kg P2O5 and 50 kg K2O per hectare every year for Northern, Central and Southern black soils are recommended for light cast varieties like Jayasri (MR) and Hema. For dark cast varieties of Central black soils like Kanakaprabha, application of 20 kg N and 50 kg/ha each of P2O5 and K2O in plant row furrow during the 3rd week of September either as straight or complex fertilizers is recommended.
Recent studies with manorial trials have shown that application of potash had no favourable response in VFC tobacco growing areas in Central and Northern black soil belts. In view of high availability of potash in soils in these areas, it is recommended that potash may not be applied for the next 2 years in Central and Northern black soil areas. Thereafter, application of potash may be resumed as per the recommended schedule after soil testing.
Planting time and spacing
Healthy and sturdy seedlings of about two moths age should be planted in the main field between mid October to mid November at a spacing of 70cm x 50cm in the case of light cast varieties and at 70cm x 70cm in the case dark cast varieties.
Gap filling must be completed within 10 days of planting.
Two intercultural first on the 20th and the second on 50th day after planting may be necessary to check the weed growth and conserve the moisture in the soil.
Topping and suckering
Judicious topping and periodical suckering help in improving the body of the leaves without deterioration in quality. Smearing of neem oil emulsion @ 4.5 ml per plant in the top 5-6 axils gives good control of suckers.
Flue cured tobacco is harvested by priming i.e. by removing the leaves as and when they mature. The right stage for harvesting the leaf is when it attains the maximum growth and full ripeness. This stage comes when the entire leaf surface gets a yellowish tinge Care may be taken not to harvest the immature leaves as they do not attain the desired physico-chemical qualities and also they cure green. On the other hand if the leaves are allowed to remain on the plant for a longer period they become scrappy and lose elasticity resulting in low yield and deterioration in quality. In black soils it takes about 70-75 days from the date of transplanting for the first priming to commence. Subsequent priming are repeated at an interval of 4 to 6 days. In all 6 to 8 priming are required to complete the entire harvesting.
Growing dry paddy or black gram in Khariff preceding VFC cultivation is recommended for NLS and SLS areas. In Central Black Soil area it is beneficial to grow gingili before VFC tobacco. It is also suggested to rotate VFC with sorghum after every three years.
A.Irrigated light soils of East Godavari, West Godavari and Khammam districts (NLS)
Selection of site
Light textured soils, deep and permeable with good surface drainage having medium/fine sub-soils are preferred.
Deep ploughing with tractor soon after harvest of tobacco or during summer with the onset of rain is essential as it helps in exposing and killing nematodes, soil borne pathogens, pests and weeds.
Application of farmyard manure or filter press cake at 10-12 tonnes/ha or green manuring with sun hemp (@ 50kg seed/ha) for sandy soils and 6-7 tonnes/ha for heavy textured soils is beneficial. Application of inorganic fertilizer for (a) loamy soils @ 45 kg, 60kg P2O5, 80 kg K2O and 15 kg MgO/ha and (b) sandy soils @ 50 kg N, 60 kg P2O5, 80 kg K2O and 15 kg MgO/ha are recommended.
(a) Application of straight fertilizers
1st split 100% P2O5, 50% K2O and 25% of total N should be applied by band or dollop method 10 cm away from the plant 10 days after planting.
2nd split 50% of N and the remaining K2O along with 15 kg MgO (10 kg dolomite) to be applied 3-4 weeks after planting 10 cm away from the plant. Dolomite should not be applied along with phosphate fertilizer.
3rd split Remaining 25% of N to be applied 40 days after planting by dollop method before riding
b) Application of DAP
1st split 100% P2O5, 50% K2O and 50% N should be applied 10th day after planting by band or dollop method 10cm away from the plant.
2nd split 50% K2O, 25% N and 15 kag MgO (100 kg dolomite) per hectare to be applied 20 days after planting 10cm away from the plant on the other side of the 1st split applied spot in order to avoid mixing of DAP with dolomite. It is better to apply dolomite along with organic manure.
3rd split Remaining 25% of N to be applied 40 days after planting by dollop method before ridging.
The optimum time of planting for the upper belt of Northern light soils mid-September to mid-October and for the lower belt, mid-October to mid-November. The spacing recommended is 100cm between rows and 60 cm between plants (16,666 plants/ha) but for the newly released variety MC Nair 12 closer spacing of 100 x 50cm is preferable. To assure good establishment during severe sunny days in sandy textured soils, it is advisable to adopt furrow irrigation in planting row before planting. To protect newly planted seedlings against scorching sun and to ensure better crop stand, it is desirable to cover the seedlings with Palmyra/teak leaf domes.
Intercultural and ridging
First intercultural should be done with tyned harrow after the establishment of seedlings followed by light hand-hoeing around the plants 10-15 days after planting and thereafter harrowing is to be continued with tyned and blade harrows so as to check weed growth and to facilitate gradual ridge formation. Ridge formation for all furrow irrigation should be completed by 40th day of planting after application of last dose of fertilizer.
The water from camels, tanks, wells and deep bore wells can be used but the chloride content should not exceed 50 ppm. The total irrigation water required including rainfall is 200-250 mm/ha, all to be applied in 6-8 irrigations.
Irrigation through all furrow system consumes more irrigation water and labour. The alternate skin furrow method of irrigation is more economical and cheeks the wastage of irrigation water, electricity and time. It improves the leaf quality and gives 10-20% higher yield than all furrow irrigation.
At the time of planting in plough furrow 15 mm
1st irrigation 15-20th day after planting by surface irrigation, if needed20mm
2nd irrigation 30-35th day after planting as surface irrigation24 mm
3rd irrigation 40-45th day after planting all furrow irrigation immediately after ridge formation48 mm
4th irrigation 50-55th day after planting all furrow irrigation 48mm
5th irrigation 65-70 day after planting by alternate skip furrow method 24 mm
6th irrigation 80-85th day after planting by alternate skip furrow method 24 mm
7th irrigation 95-100th day after planting by alternate skip furrow method24mm
8th irrigation 115-120th day after planting by alternate skip furrow method24 mm
In alternate skip furrow method, in the subsequent irrigation avoid first irrigated furrows and irrigate the unirrigated furrows. Follow the same fashion in consecutive irrigation.
Irrigation through sprinkler system will economic the irrigation water and can be followed if cost is not a limiting factor with the farmer.
i) Just after planting 3 days - 2 hours daily in the evening hours
continuously will give 100% establishment
ii) After application 1-2 time -2 hours each time of fertilizers
iii) Knee-height to 3 times -5 hours each time
iv) 3 days before 1 time -1 hour
Topping and desuckering
Topping at 10 leaves is beneficial. The gap filled plants may be topped still lower depending on plant growth. For control of suckers, neem oil emulsion at 15-20% concentration should be used depending on the vigor of the crop. It improves leaf weight and quality.
The priming of leaves should be done based on the ripeness of the leaves.
Bottom leaf : Pickings 1 to 3 slightly on the green side
Middle leaf : Pickings 3,4,5 & 6 Ripe
Top leaf : Pickings 7 and above-fully ripe
It is desirable to peck only two leaves per plant at each harvest.
The light soil tobacco should be rotated with crops resistant to nematodes. The best rotation is Korra and Chilies in the first year and Gingelly Tobacco in the second year. The second best rotation is groundnut + red gram, mixed cropping in the first year and Gingelly Tobacco in the second year.
B. Red soils (rain fed) of Prakasam and Nellore districts (SLS)
Selection of site
Well drained, moderately deep to deep soils are suitable. Very shallow soils, laterite soils, ill-drained soils and saline are unsuitable and should be avoided.
Wherever possible the field should be ploughed by a tractor during summer to expose weed seeds, roots, soil pathogens and insect pests to scorching sun/heat of summer.
Deep ploughing once with mould board plough between July and September followed by harrowing with tractor drawn/bullock drawn cultivator, 2-3 times is required to get proper tilt and also to keep the weed under check.
Well decomposed farm yard manure @ 2.5 tonnes/ha should be applied in plant row plough furrow along with inorganic fertilizer. Application of 30 to 40 kg N and 60 kg per hectare each of P2O5 and K2O as basal dose in plant row plough furrow one or two weeks before planting is recommended. Regarding sources of plant nutrients ammonium sulphate/DAP/CAN for N, superphosphate for P2O5 and potassium sulphate for potash should be used. Application of 25% N through organic source (FYM or castor cake and 75% through inorganic source is better than 100% N through inorganic source.
Application of manures and fertilizers and markings for planting should be completed preferably between the last week of September and 2nd week of October i.e. after the cessation of south-west monsoon and before onset of north east monsoon.
Healthy and vigorous seedlings of 50 to 60 days old should be planted between mid-October and mid-November at 70cm x 50cm (28,571 plants/ha) spacing. Gap filling is to be completed within 10 days after planting. Planting of flue-cured tobacco after 15th November must be discouraged as it lowers the productivity considerably. Planting flat and then ridging during inter-cultivation protects the crop against gales and cyclonic rains.
The first intercultural is to be done with tyned harrow (gorru) nearly 20 days after planting or after the establishment of seedlings.
Harrowing with tyned harrow (gorru) may be repeated at least twice or thrice as per requirement and should be followed by blade harrowing once or twice to create soil mulch and check the weed growth. It also helps to create small ridges along the planting row.
During continuous dry spells one life-saving irrigation can be given if water of good quality is available (with less than 50 ppm chlorides)
Topping and suckering
It is beneficial to top the crop at button stage and apply 20% Neem oil emulsion on top 4-5 leaf axils for effective control of suckers. Hand suckering may be resorted to if neem oil emulsion is not available.
In place of fallow-tobacco, the practice in vogue, growing of short duration Kharif crops such as black gram, gram, cowpea-bajra or hajra, green gram was found to improve the yield and quality of tobacco besides giving additional return. Hence it is recommended for adoption wherever feasible.