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manure or fertilizer more easy and effective. But this practice will not do, either on rocky or cloddy land, or even on land that has undecomposed, turfy matter or grass on it.
The Preparation of "New Ground" differs mainly in the manner of breaking it. All trees and bushes must be removed, the brush, trash and leaves piled up and burned, making the surface as clean as may be. Remove roots as well as possible, by plowing and harrowing, and then plow close to the stumps with a single horse plow. After another harrowing, the ground is checked off and the hills are made. No weeds or grasses ever trouble the crop in new ground. The sprouts from the stumps, however, are troublesome. The work of preparing new ground for the plant involves a great deal of labor, but the subsequent work in cultivating the crop is much less than upon old land.
For sixty years after the settlement of Kentucky and Tennessee, four-fifths of the tobacco crop was grown upon newly cleared lands, or that which had been in cultivation only one year. The practice among tobacco planters, up to 1860, was to clear a new field every year, plant it in tobacco two, and frequently three, years in succession, and then turn it over to the cultivation of wheat, oats and corn. A few rich lots near the stables, cow barns and hog pens were planted in tobacco in regular rotation with wheat, but the great reliance for the tobacco crop was the fresh lands. Within the past forty years this practice has been reversed, and now four-fifths of all the tobacco grown in the heavy shipping districts of the United States is planted upon old, manured lots. The tobacco is not so well colored as when planted upon new lands, but upon lands well manured it is heavier and richer than when planted upon new lands. It must be conceded, however, that a much larger proportion of inferior lands is now planted than there was forty years ago, and this has caused a perceptible deterioration in he average product.
Seed Beds, Plants, Transplanting.—See Chapters VII and VIII.
Cultivating the Crop.—With suitable weather, it requires about ten days for the plants to establish themselves upon old lands. The first cultivation is then given with a one-horse turning plow, which is run with the bar side next to the plants, throwing the dirt away from the plants to the center of the row. When prop
FIG. 00. HEAVY SHIPPING TOBACCO ON SCAFFOLD IN FIELD.
erly done, this leaves the plants standing upon a narrow strip of undisturbed soil, which is easily and rapidly cleared of any grass or weeds by the use of the hoe which usually follows the plow. All weeds or grasses between the rows are covered up by the dirt thrown to the middle in plowing, where it forms a ridge. If the land is free from grass, the first plowing is often done with double shovel plows, which pulverize the soil much better than the turning plow. After a few days, the weather continuing favorable, the second cultivation follows, and is precisely like the first, only at right angles to it. All tobacco grown in the heavy shipping districts is planted in checks, and so is worked alternately at right angles, first one way and then the other. No hoe work is necessary with the second plowing, unless the work has been so delayed, or the rains have been so abundant as to allow the weeds to get a start. It frequently occurs that the wheat harvest and the early working of the tobacco crop are coincident. The grasses sometimes get a rank start, but if subsequently eradicated, no damage is suffered other than retarding the early maturity of the plant and adding greatly to the work. Tobacco is a weed, and though drouth may check its growth and noxious weeds and grasses may apparently choke it, yet when rains come and the weeds are exterminated and the grounds sufficiently worked, the most unpromising plants will soon show a wonderful outcome. Of all the crops grown, it suffers least by early neglect. Nevertheless, the more rapidly it is worked, the less work the crop will require.
While the presence of weeds and grass, in the early stages of the growth of the tobacco plant, seem only to delay its period of ripening without doing it any permanent injury, it is undoubtedly true that nothing injures the quality of the product more than competition with other vegetation, after it has been topped. Every spear of grass and every weed, after that time, robs the tobacco of strength and detracts from the quality of the crop.
A third cultivation with a shovel plow, with two furrows to the row and running both ways, should follow in six or eight days from the second cultivation. At the next cultivation the dirt is thrown to the plant. Three or more furrows are run in each row, so as to break out the middles entirely. This gives a wide, generous bed of loose earth about the plant, supplying its increasing demand for food. Just previous to this fourth working, it is the usual practice to pull off from four to five of the lower leaves, so that the earth may enwrap the stalk without hindrance. Some planters affect to believe that the "priming," as this operation is called, induces a bleeding, or waste, of sap, detrimental to the health of the plant. This can hardly be true, as it often occurs that two planters living on adjoining farms will each have a different practice in this particular; but no evidence has ever been adduced that the yield of the crop per acre has been added to or taken from by either practice. The best and only reason for not priming is, that the lower leaves will protect the upper ones from earth burn, and the spattering of dirt during hard rains. This whole question has been often discussed, and no satisfactory reason has been given why the one practice should uniformly prevail, to the exclusion of the other. With all the leaves remaining on the stalk, the plant has more to support. The leaves also afford a refuge for the horn worms. With the lower leaves taken off, a larger proportion of the crop, as housed, will be injured in the way mentioned above.
It was once almost universal to follow this plowing with a hoe, and make a low, flat hill around the plant, but this has been abandoned as unnecessary work. A few planters "lay by" their crop with this plowing, but experiments have demonstrated that the product will be the heavier and richer with two or more additional plowings. Even where the tobacco is so large that it may not be plowed without great injury from the breaking of leaves, a stirring of the surface of the ground around the plants with hoes, especially if the land be baked after heavy rains, is accompanied with highly beneficial results.
Planters differ as to whether the last plowing should be with a double shovel plow, which leaves the land approximately level, or whether the dirt should be thrown