Topping & Sucker Control – When to Top
Topping tobacco in the button stage (soon after the flower begins to appear) rather than later increases yield and body if suckers are controlled. When tobacco plants are not topped for 3 weeks after reaching the button stage, yields are reduced by 20 to 25 pounds per acre per day, or about 1 percent per acre per day when normal yields are in the 2,000- to 2,500-pounds-per-acre range. Higher yields reduce per-pound production costs for acreage-related inputs such as chemicals, fertilizers, and some labor expenses. In addition to improved yield and quality, early topping has other advantages
- It usually allows topping to be completed before harvest begins, helping to spread the workload away from the peak harvest period.
- It reduces the possibility of plants blowing over in a windstorm.
- It stimulates earlier root development, which increases fertilizer efficiency, drought tolerance, and alkaloid production.
- It helps to reduce buildup of certain insects