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First attempt at growing tobacco (Burley) need advice please.

oldfellainspain

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Hi Everyone.

This last year, I have bought Burley Whole Leaf tobacco from Germany for rolling cigarettes, instead of buying hand rolling tobacco from a tobacconist. Now that I’m sure that shredding and smoking whole leaf is not just a passing fad, I’ve decided that I would like to grow some.
I live on the east coast of Spain. We have long hot summers here and I only have a roof terrace to grow plants on. I’ve rolled my own cigarettes for the past 53 years and I can’t think of anything that would please me more than smoking tobacco that I’ve grown myself.



The soil here is dark red and very compact. Add water and sun and you get a brick. I have mixed this soil with drainage sand and compost for tomato plants in equal quantities.

I started the seeds in a seedling mixture and had good results with germination. I moved them on to small pots and then into the bags you see in the photos. I think I overwatered at first, but not sure.



As you can see, they are growing. The largest plants are about thirty inches tall with nine or ten leaves. The first leaves had a bit of a thrips problem from tomato plants that we also had on the terrace (I think), but after a soapy water wash and rinse things look okay, apart from the first two leaves.



Afternoon shade temperatures are about 33º-35ºC at the moment and more like 43º- 48ºC in direct sunlight so I have put up a shade net that cuts out about 50% of the direct sunlight. I still get a bit of wilting but the plants revive quickly in the evening when it’s a little cooler.

Airflow is almost non-existent on the terrace. I water in the evenings and once a week add the recommended strength liquid universal fertilizer.



My questions are:

Looking at the photos, do the plants look okay? By that I mean, should the leaf size be bigger or does that happen slowly as the plant grows, and when the plants are topped before they flower? Do the plants look a bit spindly? Is the leaf colour okay?



Should I take off the lower leaves if they look damaged by thrips and/or are very pale yellow?



Any tips, advice and suggestions more than welcome.



Last but not least. How do you keep a marriage together, when all you can think and talk about is tobacco? I can be a bit OCD, according to my wife.
 

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GreenDragon

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They appear a little leggy - not enough direct sunlight. Move them out of the shade cloth more. It's ok for them to wilt in the afternoon sun - this is normal. Mine grew just fine in the 110F Texas sun. They also appear slightly pale for being fertilized weekly. Check the pH of your soil blend to make sure nutrients are available for uptake. Also, next year, I would plant in bigger bags. I believe @Knucklehead is using 3 gallon bags this year, but he has his in a pool to keep them watered. I usually recommend 5 gallon containers as a minimum both for stability and for hydration. Otherwise looking good! Enjoy the hobby. Everyone learns so much the first year. Buy your wife a bouquet of roses to show her you still care.
 

Knucklehead

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deluxestogie

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It's difficult to determine the size of the leaves from the photographs. I agree that they are spindly. Commercial, shade-grown tobacco uses only 40% shade cloth, and that causes the plants to grow to double their natural height (though with the same number of leaves).

For burley, I would be inclined to go with a larger container, water well each morning—if they seem to be drooping at that time. Grow in full sun, and just keep up with the water. Just avoid water-logged soil.

I have grown Baldió Vera tobacco here in Virginia. If tobacco can grow in the Extremadura, then surely it can handle the coast.

Good luck with your growing (and your marriage).

Bob
 

Alpine

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What strain (or class) of tobacco are you growing? From the pictures, they look like some sort of “primitive” (I.e. not much agriculturally developed) strain. Anyway, the plants seem to be struggling to reach light (and sun), usually tobacco don’t have such long internodes… don’t be afraid of the sun and temperatures: tobacco plants (if watered enough, NOT too much) love full sun and heat. Beautiful azulejos on your terrace, by the way.

pier
 

oldfellainspain

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Yesterday I took away the shade cloth. Plants wilted in the direct sunlight, but recovered completely by early evening, just as you all told me they would. Thank you.
The pH and moisture tester arrived a couple of hours ago. I've tested various bags, some moist, some wet and some dry. Readings come out overall at a pH of just under 7. From what I've read I assume this is a little high for Burley. Would a more acidic soil help with what has been suggested might be a calcium deficiency or is that something I need to address separately by adding calcium to the soil?
What worries me most is the leaf colour and the under curling leaves. I've included photos of these two problems and am hoping for any more advice please.
The yellow/white leaf is the bottom leaf of the plant. The curling leaves are newer leaves higher up the plant.
 

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GreenDragon

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It's normal for the bottom most leaves to slowly die off and drop. Your plants will probably darken up just from the increased sun exposure. If you want to try slightly acidifying your soil with little effort, do what I do and dump any leftover coffee and grounds into your pots.
 

oldfellainspain

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The internet can be a blessing and a curse. I'm reading as much as I can, so as not to ask unnecessary questions on this forum. How do you tell good advice from bad? From what I've read about the lowest leaves turning yellow/white, I could need to add nitrogen?
Marriage is still holding together though.
 

Knucklehead

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1689614795564.jpeg

Is the stalk turning yellow also or is that the lighting? (or my eyes)

What are the NPK numbers of the fertilizer you are currently using?

Here is a diagnostic key regarding nutritional deficiencies. In the photos of nitrogen deficiencies, one of them appears to show the yellowing/whitening of the lower stalk. It might be the lighting or my eyes.

 

deluxestogie

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If you read an opinion here on the FTT forum, and it is uncontested, then it is usually a safe bet.

Do keep in mind that many burley varieties show early yellowing of the lowest leaves, yet they air-cure to a rich brown. And the white-stemmed burleys (most of the varieties currently available) always tend to appear a lighter green than non-burley varieties.

Bob
 

Byronodmon

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I'm a bit of a noob, on my 3rd year growing tobacco. I personally wouldn't try anything drastic until you give your plants some time under the full sun everyday with good watering. It's kind of hard to tell if the yellow color is a lack of sun problem or a lack of nitrogen or other nutrient problem because you have multiple things going on. It sounds like you've eliminated the lack of sunlight problem so let the plants grow out a bit and adjust to that. They should start getting much more green especially in the upper leaves. The bottoms may stay yellowish no matter what at this point. If nothing seems to happen and they stay very light green verging on yellow then you know you probably have a soil ph problem if you have been fertilizing.
I really like liquid fertilizer for tobacco. Something the plants will absorb and use quickly so I can see the effects quickly and also stop the fertilizing when things need to ripen. I just feel a bit more in control that way. Others might like long acting fertilizer because it's less work. I like working my plants every day.

Anyways overall I'd say try to adjust 1 input at a time until you get a feel for what works then move on to the next.
 

oldfellainspain

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Hi Byronodmon. Good advice. I need a little more patience. As mentioned above, I use a liquid fertilizer as well.
I'm still unsure If I'm under or over watering. As the weekly dose of fertilizer is mixed in when I water the plants, I assume I could be under or over fertilizing at the same time. I realize the bag size I'm using is far too small (1 gallon approx). I'll use bigger ones next year.
If I wait until soil is quite dry, could someone give me a rough estimate of how much water is required to properly water twenty 1 gallon bags. I understand that there are so many variables that this is an almost impossible question to answer. Non the less, I think I need some sort of guide.
 

Controlled Chaos

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Just personal experience with fertilizer on the one Virginia plant I've got going right now, but I'm using Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro (9-3-6) and have been using 5ml/gal with an additional 3ml/gal of CalMag at almost every watering and it's looking pretty healthy. On the bottle it says to use that much per gallon for weekly feeding but it gets that every day or every other day. I'm also using pH Down to get the water between 5 and 6 pH. I'll share a picture once I finally get home so you can see how short and leafy it is. No signs of nutrient burn even though according to the bottle I'm using much more than recommended. This week I've backed off to see if there are any changes without adding nutrients so we'll see
 

Frelono

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Hi Byronodmon. Good advice. I need a little more patience. As mentioned above, I use a liquid fertilizer as well.
I'm still unsure If I'm under or over watering. As the weekly dose of fertilizer is mixed in when I water the plants, I assume I could be under or over fertilizing at the same time. I realize the bag size I'm using is far too small (1 gallon approx). I'll use bigger ones next year.
If I wait until soil is quite dry, could someone give me a rough estimate of how much water is required to properly water twenty 1 gallon bags. I understand that there are so many variables that this is an almost impossible question to answer. Non the less, I think I need some sort of guide.
What works for me is to watch the tobacco everyday and simply water when they start to droop. In my climate inside the greenhouse thats roughly every 3-4 day. i also stick my finger deep in the soil to check actual dryness ( they are a bit dramatic ).
 
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