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riG. 23. BEMIS TRAN8PLANTEB AT WORK, i machine sets cabbage, tomato, strawberry and other plants, as well as tobacco It is made by the Fuller & Johnson JPl'g Co., of Madison, Wis., U.S. A
five years, that a rod of land well burned and prepared in the fall, will furnish as many good plants as double the area burned at the usual time, in February or March. This planter, however, had never used the canvas covers.
The question has been frequently asked, why soils imburned will not answer as well as burned soils. All the good effects of burning have never been accounted for. We do know, however, that soils well burned will bring strong, healthy plants, and those unburned will often produce yellow, small and sickly ones. One effect of the fire is to destroy all the seeds of weeds and grass, giving the entire land to whatever seeds are sown upon it. A second effect is to render the soil more permeable to the roots of the plants, and by increasing its absorptive capacity, preserve the proper degree of warmth and moisture. A third effect is the inducing of a more thorough pulverization of the soil, rendering it more friable, and increasing, as it were, the area of the feeding ground of the roots, thus rendering more plant food available.
Another beneficial effect is produced by the presence of minute particles of charcoal, which, being black, makes the bed warmer, and being a good condenser of the gases within its pores, particularly of carbonic acid gas (absorbing, as it does, 90 times its volume), it collects a rich supply of food for the plants. And finally, it is well known to chemists that burned clay, being more porous, absorbs ammoniacal and other gases from the soil and from the atmosphere more readily, and fixes them for the use of plants. All clays, says Mr. Johnson, contain sensible quantities of most of the mineral substances,—potash, soda, lime, etc.,—which plants require for their healthy growth. They are, however, in an insoluble condition, which circumstance, united to the stiffness of the clay, prevents the roots of plants from readily taking them up. The chemical condition of the constituents of the clay is altered when burned by a gentle heat, and the substances which the plants require are rendered more soluble.
CARE OF PLANT BEDS
The covering, whether of glass or cloth, should be removed after the plants are up, in the sunny part of the day at first, and gradually for a longer time, until
FIO. 24. FIELD READY FOR MACHINE TRANSPLANTING (Connecticut;
finally no covering is used. This "hardening" process is absolutely necessary, to give the plants sufficient strength of constitution to withstand transplanting into the open field, and to make a vigorous start when so transplanted. The plants may be so uneven as to require that part be covered while the rest are exposed (Figs. 15, 16, 17), but usually the entire covering is removed (Fig. 19) after the sun is well up, but is spread again at night, until all danger of cold or frost is past. The bed must be kept clean and free from weeds, and well watered.
The aim of the grower is to raise early, strong and stocky plants, and not those of a weak or spindling nature. It is a good plan to have two or three beds planted at intervals of a few days. This ensures plenty of plants, and also meets the possibilities of the season. If the season opens early, those from the first bed can be used; if later, those from the second or third bed. Plants from the later beds are just what are wanted for resetting.
A bed ten yards square, if well prepared, should set ax or seven acres. But it is always safe to prepare double the area or number of seed beds thought to be necessary, for no tobacco grower ever regrets having a surplus of plants; in that case, he may select the best. For transplanting to old land, the plants should be larger than for new land.
RAISING THE BEST TOBACCO SEED.
To raise good tobacco requires, in the first place, good seed. This is more essential in tobacco than any other crop, because the range of types, grades and prices is wider in this than any other crop. And the seed controls all these as much, if not more, than any other one factor. Tobacco, apparently, has a natural inclination to depart from a fixed type and break into sub-varieties, thus adjusting itself to the climate and soil in which it is placed. Moreover, the pollen is easily disseminated, and may be carried half a mile or more, causing much crossing where several varieties are grown near together. To grow good seed requires time and patience, but it will pay better than any other work done on the crop. Seed is often saved from any wellgrowing plant, regardless of the chances of cross-fertilization, in a careless, shiftless way, resulting in much confusion of varieties and a great lowering of quality. This is all wrong, but it is the general practice at the South, and too often done at the North. There are a few farms in the United States that make a specialty of growing tobacco seed. A bushel of seed, of manufacturing varieties, is worth from forty to fifty dollars, but cigar-leaf growers often pay as high as two dollars per ounce, and the prices of cigar-leaf seed varies from fifty cents to two dollars and a quarter per ounce, a fair average for good seed now being one dollar per ounce. "Cheap" seed is always the most expensive. The best growers cheerfully pay the highest price for seed known to be pure and of the best quality.
The largest, and possibly the best, tobacco seed farm in the world is the Ragland seed farm at South Boston, Virginia. On this farm is grown, every year, from 100 to 125 bushels of tobacco seed, which embraces all the standard, as well as the rare, varieties of tobacco. The yield per acre is from four to five bushels, weighing thirty-five pounds per bushel. In regard to the vitality of tobacco seed, it is curious to note that not more than 75 per cent of the most carefully grown seed will germinate. Mr. W. C. Slate, the manager of the Ragland tobacco farm, has made many tests in this matter, and he says it is very rare to find any seed that will show a larger per cent of vitality.
The best way to secure a perfect leaf is to grow the seed plants in an isolated place, removed at least a mile from any other field of tobacco. There must be several plants near each other, so that the pollen may be interchanged between the flowers of the different plants. There is a greenish striped worm, much like the bud worm, that feeds upon the seed pods when young and tender. These worms must be destroyed, as they will make the pods upon which they feed seedless. In turn