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attraction induced by such pulverization brings moisture from the subsoil in seasons of the greatest drouth. And not the least of the beneficial effects of such a preparation is the ease with which the superfluous water may be absorbed, for the greatest of all enemies to the tobacco plant is standing water. The first breaking, in the autumn, should take place, if possible, before vegetation is killed by frosts, especially if old meadows, clover pasture or stubble lands are selected for the tobacco crop ot the next year. Dead grasses plowed under after midwinter injure the succeeding crop, by rendering the soil too porous and thirsty. Better far, if the breaking up is delayed, to burn off all dead vegetable matter. This burning will, at least, destroy the larvae of insects and worms, which often prey upon the plants when first set out, not only destroying them, but making it impossible to grow a crop of tobacco that will be uniform in size, color or quality. This second plowing should only be half as deep as the first, unless the furrows are run so close together that the slice cut by the plow will be only half reversed.
Manuring.—Consult Chapters V and VI. Previous to the second breaking in the spring, all the manure which can be gathered from the stables, the barnyards and the poultry yards, and all the trash from the tobacco barns, including the stalks and ashes, should be hauled upon the land, and especially upon those spots that need it the most. It ought to be so distributed that the whole field intended for the tobacco crop should be made, as far as possible, uniformly fertile, in order that the crop may be uniform in size and character. Such crops always command a better price, other things being equal, than one in which there is tobacco of every size, color and quality. A favorite place for growing heavy tobacco is the place where hogs have been fatted the previous autumn. If broken up as soon as the hogs are removed and before the rains have washed the substance from the droppings, a very rich, heavy leaf may be produced. Good farmers keep two places for hog pens, so as to alternate with corn and tobacco.
It is almost impossible for the grower of rich tobacco to use too much manure, if it is well rotted and thoroughly incorporated with the soil. Mistakes are often made, however, in applying large quantities of fresh manure from the stables just before the land is set in tobacco. This almost always results in impairing the
FIO. 88. CUTTING HEAVY TOBACCO.
quality of the tobacco, by causing field fire. It is far better to compost all stable manure with rich dirt, ashes, tobacco stalks, etc., and let the fermentation cease before its application to the tobacco field. Far better results will be obtained. Commercial fertilizers are coming into general use, while planters are more careful to save and compost all possible sources of plant food about the farm.
Laying off the Land.—After the second plowing, the land may be left until the plants are nearly ready to set. When the plants in the seed beds have leaves on them two inches long, the planter should proceed to give the final preparation to his land previous to setting the crop. It should, first of all, be well harrowed until the surface is thoroughly pulverized to the depth of two or three inches. It must then be laid off in rows three and one-half feet each way, and at the points of intersection, a heaping teaspoonful or more of some good guano or superphosphate of lime, or a little well-rotted manure or old ashes, may be dropped at each crossing, and the hill made over the fertilizer with a hand hoe, care being taken to incorporate the fertilizer well with the soil. The hills need not be large or high. The tops should be cut off with the general level of the land, and patted, Bo as to give the hills compactness enough to retain moisture.
Many farmers lay off their tobacco land three feet by four, which has the merit of giving a few more plants to the acre, and at the same time permits the cultivation of the crop to continue for a longer period with less injury to the plants from the bruising and breaking of the leaves. If the wide rows are run north and south, more of the sunlight reaches the leaves, and matures them more evenly. With wide rows in one direction, the work of worming and suckering is more easily performed, and fewer leaves are torn or broken in working between the rows.
A few years ago, when the "black fat" German styles were in the greatest demand, and at the highest prices, several intelligent farmers tried the experiment of increasing the distance between the plants to four feet each way, believing that increased space would give greater room for development and expansion. While a few were pleased with the results, the practice has been
generally abandoned, not because the quality of the product is not improved, but because there is too much land cultivated for the number of pounds of tobacco made. Planted 3x4 feet, there are 3630 plants to the acre; 3}x3}, 3556, and 4x4, 2725. This made a difference of over 800 plants to the acre, which will not be compensated for by the slightly increased quality of the tobacco produced when planted at the distance of four feet each way.
Now and then a planter will be found who prefers the rows to be laid off 3x3 feet, or Mt. 3 in.x3 ft. 3 in. This is too close, except for some very small varieties of tobacco. Planted as closely as this, the leaves, being very much shaded, do not secrete the gum and oils necessary to give the product the finish and beauty, the softness and body, the strength of tissue and the amount of gum, so much desired in the shipping leaf. Thin, chaffy tobacco, such as is made in the shipping districts by being planted too closely, by the sterility of the soil, by the bad effects of weeds and grasses growing about the plants, by bad cultivation, or by suffering the suckers to grow to great length, has but one market in all the world, and that is Spain. It never pays to raise heavy shipping tobacco under any of the conditions named.
There is a way of preparing land for tobacco by which it is practically hilled by the plow. It is laid off one way in rows, at whatever distance tho planter may desire. The fertilizers or manures are then distributed in the bottom of the row. A turning plow afterwards throws two furrows on this row, making a ridge. The land is then laid off at right angles to the ridges. The tops of the severed ridges are afterwards cut off and patted, and this makes the hills. This plan is preferred by many farmers, because of the great economy in the hoe work. It likewise makes the application of the