lot of work goes into growing tobacco. The process is an intensive, tedious,
year-round occupation, and for many years involved a series of grueling
operations largely done by hand. Literature dealing with the subject of
tobacco culture from the seventeenth century
to the present is replete with complaints about the laborious nature of
tobacco farming. The process has been updated; tasks such as harvesting
tobacco, formerly done by hand, are now done with mechanical tobacco harvesters.
||Seeds are sown in beds with meticulous
care. An ounce of seed planted in 100 square yards can produce 3 to 4 acres
of flue cured tobacco or 2 to 3 acres of Burley. After six to ten weeks,
are transplanted to fields that have been combed clean. Plants are "topped"
before the seed head develops, except for those needed to provide seeds
for the next year. Farmers remove the suckers or "sucker" the
plants and must contend with hornworms. Tobacco is also dependent on the
weather. Too much rain, too much sun, or a hailstorm can destroy a crop.
The position of leaves on the stalk controls their properties and their
commercial value. Growers of flue-cured tobacco recognize two grades, leaf
and lugs. Lugs are the leaves on the lower half of the plant.
The process of "priming" or picking individual leaves off the
stalks is a common form of harvesting for flue-cured tobacco. In preparation
for market, leaves are sorted. Sales by auction at warehouses have been
the means of selling tobacco since the 1840's.