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thermometers placed on stakes in various parts of the field, especially in the most exposed places. If the mercury drops to 35° by one or two in the morning, it is likely to mean a frost of more or less severity before sunrise. Then call up the folks, light the torches, and let each person take torch and oil can (previously filled) and set fire to the row of rubbish heaps previously assigned him. If the wind blows the smoke away from the field, carry some rubbish over to that side, so the smoke will be blown on to instead of off from the field. If the danger never comes, no expense worth mentioning has been incurred, as the piles can be scattered and plowed under for manure, or burned, the ashes making excellent fertilizer. No prudent person thinks of leaving his buildings uninsured against fire. Certainly it is just as important to insure against frosts, so far as it can be done, by such simple means as smoke coverings, or water. Mr. E. P. Powell, a successful and brainy horticulturist in western New York writes: "The very best preventive against frost is not fires, but thorough spraying with water during the evening and night. When this can be done, we can overcome the danger from a fall of two or three degrees. This will often save our whole crop. This last spring I lost my grapes by a margin of not more than two degrees, but on a preceding night anticipated the frost by deluging the trellises with water." The same plan will work equally well on tobacco.
ON THE MARKETING OF TOBACCO.
In the cigar-leaf growing States there is not, as yet, any organized system of marketing tobacco, such as has been developed so admirably in the heavy leaf, Burley and yellow districts of the South. Numerous attempts have been made by cigar-leaf growers in the New England and Middle States to organize cooperative exchanges for the sale of their crops, but so far without success. The method followed at present, and for years, is for the planter to wait for the buyer to come to his farm.
Buyers usually inspect the crop very carefully while it is growing, and under unusual conditions may even contract for the growing crop. Such contracts are usually verbal, and are a frequent cause of dissatisfaction and complaint. The buyer agrees to pay a certain price for the crop delivered to him in good condition, but if the market goes down before the leaf is delivered, he will claim that it is not of the quality represented, and he will not pay the stated price for it. On the other hand, should the market advance, the buyer of a crop contracted for in the fields will insist upon having the leaf delivered. If such contracts are made at all, they should be in writing, with all the conditions plainly set forth, so that there can be no mistake, and 10 per cent of the amount should be paid to bind the bargain. This caution also applies to tobacco sold on the poles before stripping.
The great bulk of the cigar leaf, however, is sold after being stripped and put in the bundle. The buyer comes to the farmer's barns, inspects the crop, and a price is agreed upon for the crop delivered at the buyer's local warehouse, or shipped to his headquarters. Some farmers, however, when dissatisfied with offers made by traveling or local buyers, case the crop themselves and hold it for higher prices.
These buyers of the cigar-leaf crop may be traveling agents sent out by dealers in New York, Chicago, or other cities, or they may be the representatives of cigar manufacturers. Very often, too, some enterprising planter and business man combines the assorting and sale of his own crop with purchases of his neighbors' crops. Buyers usually prefer to take the crop in the
bundle and assert it themselves, to suit their special trade.
It will be seen that, by this system, there is very little competition for the crop on the part of buyers, except in seasons of scarcity or excitement. The tobacco grower is largely at the mercy of the buyer, especially as many sales are kept secret because made on so-called "private terms." Indeed, it is quite difficult to accurately report the price at which cigar-leaf growers sell their crops, as buyers make every effort to keep the high prices secret, while the grower is equally anxious not to have it known if he has accepted a low price. The whole system is mischievous, illogical, unjust, unbusinesslike, expensive. It is apt to rob the farmer, it sometimes operates to the disadvantage of the buyer, and at best, it maintains an unnecessary number of middlemen.
If public warehouses for the sale of the crop, according to the system so successful in the South, could be provided at central points in the cigar-leaf sections, and carefully regulated by law, that system could not fail to revolutionize the old method, and greatly to the satisfaction of all concerned. A large quantity of tobacco, divided into established grades or descriptions, offered at certain established dates, could not tail to attract large numbers of buyers. Each crop would thus have the benefit of competitive sales at auction, and would thus get the best price the market affords. Such warehouses would also provide for sales other than by auction. It is singular that the North, usually so enterprising, should be so lacking in a businesslike method for selling its tobacco crop, since the South has brought the method to such a high state of perfection.
The Warehouse System.— By this system in the South, warehouses are erected at a point that is the center of a large tobacco-growing district. There is much strife among towns to secure the location of tobacco warehouses, because the large daily sales of leaf during the season distribute immense sums of money to the planters in the vicinity, and the town's general business is greatly benefited thereby. This warehouse system is building up many towns in the South. Within the past ten years, eight markets for the sale of tobacco have been established in as many different towns in the ten counties constituting the "new golden belt" of North Carolina. These towns contain 20 warehouses of spacious size. They engage from CO to 80 large prize houses, ranging from 80 to 120 feet in length and 30 to 50 feet in width, three to four stories in height, each equipped with all the bect methods of keeping and re