Tobacco seedlings are starting to get some size and several growers have already started mowing. We mow tobacco to increase the uniformity of the seedlings and maximize the number of usable seedlings per tray. Here is a tray that has just been clipped.
We want to begin mowing early so smaller plants are not shaded out by the more vigorous ones. When plants are 2-2.5 inches tall, it’s a good time to start. We never want to mow closer than 1/2 inch above the bud because if we damage the bud, we ruin the plants. 1-1.5 inches above the bud is the prefered mower height.
Mowing will be on roughly a 3 day interval for the first few clippings and a 5 day interval after that. This may vary a little based on the weather and how fast the seedlings are growing. Most growers will mow between 5-10 times before transplanting the seedlings. If more mowing is required, the fertility program should be reevaluated.
The clippings are vacuumed up into the bag on the mower. This helps reduce the spread of disease and keeps the clippings from shading out the smaller plants. It is important to practice good sanitation when mowing to avoid spreading disease. It’s a good idea to thoroughly wash mowers with a 50% bleach solution after every mowing. Also, dispose of clippings away from the vicinity of the greenhouse.
In the photo above you can see the trays which have already been mowed (darker green rows). This greenhouse is showing a lot of promise.