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Tobacco Pest Management

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Tobacco pests include a wide variety of diseases, nematodes, insects, and weeds. Pest management decisions are based on an understanding of the biology of the pest, the environmental impacts of the management options, and the economic damage causes by the pests. Management of all pests is most effective when management practices are aimed at preventing the establishment and spread of these pests.

Through an integrated pest management (IPM) approach, we can do the 3 M’s: minimize, monitor, and manage, in that order.

We minimize by selecting good cultural practices: resistant varieties, water management, planting date, nutrition, etc.

We then need to monitor our plants, for pests and for general health. These monitoring programs may be systematic or as simple as walking through your field to see the state of your crop. Monitoring includes correct ID of pests. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t know what do about it! Sampling methods have been developed as part of a monitoring program in tobacco. Samples can be sent to the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic for problem diagnosis, if needed. 
Monitoring (or determining pest population density) is also important when using thresholds. Typically, pest populations have to reach a certain density or threshold before yields are affected, and treating before that threshold may lead to unnecessary costs.

Management options include biological, cultural, and chemical controls. Oftentimes, the management and prevention one pest group can also reduce the impact of a different pest group. As a last choice, pests can be managed through chemical controls, though these controls may not always be available or effective for specific pests. Specific information on registered pesticides, rates, and use recommendations can be found in the North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual.

The below sections describe key pests in the tobacco agroecosystem, associated thresholds, and management tools:

Diseases and Nematodes


Insect Scouting Methods


Key terms

Written By

Daisy Ahumada, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDr. Daisy AhumadaAssistant Professor and Extension Field Crop Pathology Specialist Call Dr. Daisy Email Dr. Daisy Entomology & Plant Pathology
NC State Extension, NC State University
Page Last Updated: 4 months ago
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