Whole Leaf Tobacco

Late start. How late a finish?

LordPipestoke

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Being in the southern hemisphere, I am of course on a somewhat different seasonal schedule than most here.

Now, I'm aware that if I had actually followed that schedule to any reasonable extent, I should likely enough be harvesting rather than typing this. Here, March is the first month of autumn and this March being nearly over, is not lacking in kinship with your late September.

However, and I introduce this word knowing that its presence represents a substantial observation of its use, I started late. Very late indeed.

Due to having too much work and too little time, my plants (Virginia Gold from NTS) didn't go into the ground until late January. I know that's too late by any sensible measure but the alternative was to give up and I saw little merit in that. The plants went in and they have to some extent thrived and continue to do so but the main growth has only occurred in the past 3-4 weeks. They are about knee high now. Also, they're a bit closer together than what would be ideal.

I wouldn't expect any frost for at least a couple of months, if any at all. Some years we get a little frost, others we don't but I haven't experienced it any sooner than mid-late July. Daytime temperatures are likely to be in the range of 18-23c (64-73F) for the coming month, 16-20c (61-68F) in the month after that.

So, how bad is my outlook?

We're not talking a large crop by any standards at all. There are 16 Virginia plants and 3 Yenidje. This is my first year with plants in the ground after the year before finished with my seedlings all getting cooked at a stage where it was too late to start anything new. Plans for next year are a little more ambitious with hopes for about 50-60 plants.

I'm growing exclusively with pipe tobacco in mind.
 

DistillingJim

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What part of Aus are you in? I'm originally from Adelaide where I suspect you would have left it a bit late but if you're further north you may be ok.
 

LordPipestoke

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Hi Jim.

I'm near Melbourne, so even a fair bit further South!

I know there's a very real likelihood I won't get anything out of it this year, but since I know there are people growing in Scandinavia with reasonable results, I have some hope. I'm from Denmark originally, and I'd say there you're lucky to get the weather in August that I'd expect we'll get here over the coming month.
 

Charly

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I am not an expert with weather from the other side of the word, but if the plants are in the ground since late january, you should be able to harvest in april/may, no ? many strains need about 70-90 days after transplant to be mature, so 3 months in the ground should be fine :) : february + march + april => in may you will already be harvesting

If they are knee high, they will grow fast now.

Good luck ;)
 

LordPipestoke

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Hi Charly,

Thank you. That makes me feel a little better about my chances. I sort of had 'two months' in my head, but of course you're right that three months to be mature isn't uncommon. Even then, there's probably a margin at the end of it if they need a little longer. :)

J.
 

ChinaVoodoo

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The cold will make them grow slowly, and the shortening days might make them flower early. A bit of frost is ok. If it stays above -4C, as in -3 or higher, frost does almost no damage. If you get frost, and the forecast calls for sun and/or warmer weather the following couple days, don't pick it. The sun and the fact the plants are alive will break down the chlorophyll which is released from the frost damaged cells and make it easier to cure.
 

Gavroche

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It is not the frost(gel) which frightens me but the mold come on my plants at the end of season... mold on the leaves of the plants of tobacco

ce n'est pas le gel qui me fait peur mais la moisissure venue sur mes plantes en fin de saison... moisissure sur les feuilles des plants de tabac
 

Alpine

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Your average autumn temps are higher than mine here in spring! It was 2*C this morning... From my (little) experience I dare to say you'll have a good harvest. Here on the Alps we usually never have night temps above 16 C and I regularly have decent crops. Good luck with your grow, and keep us updated!

Pier
 

deluxestogie

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I would guess that you will have no problem getting harvestable leaf. Once your plants have about 16 usable leaves, topping them at that level will accelerate their maturation, and increase leaf size.

Curing conditions are often not ideal during late autumn.

Bob
 

LordPipestoke

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Thanks, all.

We aren't likely to get to -4 at all. I think in the nine years I've been here in Australia, the lowest temperature we've had where I live is about -2.

I'm feeling quite a bit more confident about getting a reasonable harvest this year.
 

shaun

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Hey mate was just wondering how big your plants have got I'm in Melbourne as well and mine are taking forever to grow
 

LordPipestoke

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Hi Shaun,

Not very big. Haha!

I'd say they're a bit more than a metre in height – the better ones. Having said that, I should note that aside from going in very late, they are also not in the best position they can be.

My wife's very protective of the garden. I'm allowed to plant things, if it's going to work. This year's growth was very much a test to see whether it'd actually work at all. She graciously allowed me a corner of the garden where there is too much growth around the plants and where the soil is rather heavy with a lot of clay in it. At this point, they only get sun for a short time in the afternoon.

That said, the leaves are going OK. They are not as large as they should be, but when I've seen them start yellowing, I've been taking them off and hanging them. This does seem to be working OK. I think I've probably taken about a third of the leaves by now and they are colour curing under the roof on the deck. Bear in mind though, that I only have 16 Virginia plants this year (and four Yenidje, but they are much further behind).

At a guess, I'd be surprised if I get more than about 300gr. of pipe tobacco out of it this year, but as a test run, that's OK. I have plans for maybe three times as many plants next season and I've been allocated a better growing spot this time around. Also, I'll be starting the seedlings a lot earlier so they can go in the ground in October rather than late January(!).

What general area are you in? If I say 'hills east of Melbourne' that should give you an idea of where I am. :)
 
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