Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

tobacco because it is strong, and may be adulterated with inferior tobacco grown in other countries without diminishing the quantity of nicotine below a certain standard. The people of Europe have, for generations, been accustomed to using tobacco cured by open fires, and their tastes have been educated to enjoy the smoky flavor.

The Soil for Shipping Tobacco.—The same soil often has the capacity of producing imperfectly all the classes of tobacco, but such versatility in the soil is not favorable for yielding the highest excellence in any one of the classes. There must be a natural adaptation in the soil and climate to the growth of a particular class, in order to reach the highest and best results. There is an endless variety of soils, and there is an endless variety of types and sub-types that pass, by almost imperceptible gradations, from one to the other.

To produce the best shipping leaf, there must be a strong, rich soil, not necessarily deep, but with a large content of potash in its composition. Low river bottoms subject to overflows rarely produce the best qualities of this tobacco. Too much vegetable matter in the soil, imperfectly decomposed, makes a large, rough, harsh tobacco, wanting in all the best qualities of a shipping tobacco. Upland soils are usually better drained than bottom lands, and the humus from such soils, receiving no additions from other than natural sources, is not excessive. For this reason, other things being equal, such soils are preferred for tobacco.

One of the most famous tobacco-growing districts is the Clarksville, embracing the counties of Montgomery, Dickson, Humphreys, Houston, Cheatham, Stewart and Robertson in Tennessee, and Trigg, Christian, Todd, Logan, Simpson, and some areas in the Green River district of Kentucky, where the soil is not deep but fertile, the best soils having a deep, reddish subsoil, in which are mingled rotten masses of flint, or chert, broken into small angular fragments. The latter supplies warmth and drainage, the clayey bed retains and supplies moisture to the growing crop. Upon such soils, the plants will stand long in the field after being apparently ripe, thickening, ripening, and mellowing and storing up oily matter, making the leaf, when cured, as soft and elastic as a kid glove. The best shipping leaf is produced upon manured lots having the characteristic subsoil mentioned. Analysis shows this soil to be rich in potash, while the climate is especially suited to the crop, producing the best tobacco for export now grown in the world.

Western Kentucky and western Tennessee grow shipping tobacco of a lower quality on an ashen-colored soil that is light and friable, containing a large amount of calcareous matter intermixed with a fine, sandy material. Such soils are very easily washed and gullied, and the crop is not grown on them as much as formerly. The Ohio river district in Kentucky comprises the counties of Livingstone, Crittenden, Caldwell, Lyon, Hancock, Breckenridge and Meade. The lower Green River district—the counties of Henderson, Union, Daviess, Webster, Hopkins, McLean and Muhlenberg—has mostly a soil of sandstone and shale derivation, producing tobacco suitable for English strips, long, wide, heavy and coarse. The upper Green River district—Barren, Warren, Hardin, Grayson, Edmonson, Hart, Green, Larue, Marion, Taylor and Allen counties —has a soil resembling the Clarksville district, yielding tobacco of heavy body, oily face and smooth texture. White Burley is also grown in this district, and a little yellow tobacco in Hart county, on gravelly or sandy soils with calcareous subsoil, giving a fine and silky leaf with light body, but firm and tough and well suited for plug wrappers. Between the upper and lower districts is the Green River district of Butler and Ohio counties, whose product is not of such good quality.

In the Cumberland River district (embracing the Tennessee counties of Smith, Trousdale, Macon, Clay, Jackson and Putnam, and portions of Sumner and Wilson, and in Kentucky the counties of Metcalfe, Russell, Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, Monroe, Casey, Wayne and Pulaski), tobacco is grown mainly on the low bottom lands and is coarse and bony, wanting in flexibility, deficient in oil, but having a good weight. Heavy tobacco is grown in many parts of Virginia and North Carolina, on dark, rich soils with reddish subsoils, upon which yellow tobacco is never produced. Some shipping tobacco is grown on such dark soils in Maryland and South Carolina. A coarse grade of shipping tobacco, almost destitute of oil, is grown in southern Illinois and Indiana. Some good shipping leaf is grown in the great Kanawha valley and in the counties along the Ohio river Fig. so. Topping The Plant, in West Virginia, the alluvial soils producing the best leaf. Missouri's production has fallen rapidly, as its leaf has large stems and fiber, being grown generally on rich bottom lands on the North bank of the Missouri river. A little is raised in Arkansas.

The Color of the Soil seems to exert a great, but not always a controlling, influence in determining the color of the product. Rich clays of any color will produce a heavy, waxy leaf, if properly manured and planted with a suitable variety,—one that has a tendency to grow thick, leathery and large. Gray, porous soils, made up in part of fine, sandy material, will develop a thinner but finer leaf, particularly if planted with thin varieties that have grown upon such soils for a number of years. Varieties that produce a high quality of tobacco on soils to which they are suited, fail when planted on soils of a different character. The popular varieties known by the names of Yellow Prior and Orinoco, planted upon rich, old lands, highly manured, will yield a strong, dark tobacco full of gummy matter, rich in nicotine, known as "black fat," and eminently fitted for the German market. Planted upon light, new lands, the product of the same varieties is yellow, mottled or piebald, fine-flavored, sweet and fragrant. If the same variety of tobacco be planted in two fields in situations precisely similar, and soils of like character, one field being freshly cleared from the forest, and the other long cleared, but with its fertility preserved, the product of the first will be brighter in color when cured by artificial heat or by the desiccating influence of the sun and air, finer in texture and sweeter in flavor, and have less nicotine in its composition than that grown on the old land. The first will be in demand for domestic manufacture and consumption, and the latter for shipping purposes. The product of new lands, if properly cured and managed, is for the most part profitable if suited for manufacturing purposes, but if the soils of the new lands are red, and otherwise unsuited to the growth of manufacturing tobacco, the product of the old, highly manured lots makes the most valuable commodity.

[graphic]

Preparation of the Soil.—No crop requires a more careful preparation of the soil for its successful growth, than tobacco of any variety. Most of the cultivation, indeed, should be performed before the plants are set in the ground, and in order to do this the land intended for tobacco, if a clayey loam, should be well and deeply broken in the fall by a turning plow drawn by two or three horses or mules. The land should not be closely plowed, but left in ridges, the advantage of this being that a much larger surface is exposed to the ameliorating effects of the winter freezes. If the depth of the furrow should be eight inches, the ridge would probably be from twelve to fifteen inches high, allowing a portion of

[graphic][merged small]

the dirt to fall back in the furrow and another portion to be thrown over in the previously run furrow.

If the section of one of these ridges is an equilateral triangle, the surface exposure will be increased onethird, and two-thirds will reap the direct benefit of the freezes. The freezes and thaws alternating will pulverize and mellow the soil and put it in such a fine mechanical condition, that the subsequent rebreaking in the following February or March will put it in prime order for the growth of any crop. Upon land so prepared, the roots of plants have a wide pasture ground, where they may range in search of food without let or hindrance. The air can penetrate such a soil easily, and the capillary

« AnteriorContinuar »