« AnteriorContinuar »
cheaper lands of Wisconsin, the cost varies from 5 to 10 cents, and may be even less in exceptional instances. Ordinarily, however, the planter considers that he ia making very little profit if he gets less than 15 cents per pound through, for the entire crop, if grown in the Connecticut valley; 12 cents if grown in New York state; 10 to 14 cents if grown in Pennsylvania; 8 to 12 cents in the Miami valley, and about the latter range of values in Wisconsin.
These prices are often exceeded for prime crops in prosperous times. One-third of the Connecticut valley crop of 1892 was sold at an average of 26 cents per pound through, in the bundle on the farm, but when the presidential election, in November of that year, foreshadowed a lower tariff, prices rapidly declined, and the whole crop was moved only at 12 to 15 cents, averaging about 13 cents per pound, causing a loss of $3,200,000 to the planters of that section on that one crop. The decline in the Middle States was proportionately as serious.
Aside from these political conditions that affect the value of cigar-leaf tobacco, prices depend very much on the quality of the leaf produced, both in the United States and in other countries. Should failures occur with the Sumatran crop or in Cuba, or should these crops, in any way, prove to be of very inferior quality, these circumstances would have a stimulating effect on the value of domestic leaf. Should it so happen that only one or two States in America, the same year, produced a crop of satisfactory quality, the growers of such leaf would probably get extraordinary prices. Thus, the crop may fluctuate in value very seriously from year to year, and even from one part of the season to another. It is not always possible to tell at harvest time, or even after curing, what the quality of the leaf will be, and sometimes a crop that g03s into the sweat in apparently the most promising condition, will come out of it in a very disappointing condition for cigar-making purposes. Should this prove true of any considerable proportion of the crop, it would increase the demand and prices for good crops the succeeding year. Hence, it is quite a difficult matter to follow the tobacco market closely in all its intricacies. Of course the grower should do this as well as he can, but the first and essential thing is to produce a crop of the finest possible quality.
Now this matter of quality in tobacco for cigar wrappers and binders is an undetermined thing. There are almost as many ideas about what constitutes quality as there are dealers of leaf, manufacturers of cigars, or smokers. At the present time, and for several years past, qualities upon which all are agreed as desirable are: A leaf of light color, free from spots, light in weight, fine in texture, containing few and small veins and midribs so that it will cut into wrappers with as little waste as possible. The leaf must also have good burning qualities, holding fire a reasonable length of time and burning with a white ash, and so that the ash will hold the form of the cigar until knocked off by the smoker. All manufacturers and cigar makers want a leaf that is not brittle, that is smooth, elastic and supple, yet not tough. With all these qualities, some insist upon having a fine gloss, or shiny appearance, on the wrapped cigar. Others don't want that at all. Some prefer leaf with a considerable amount of gummy or oily matter, and a reasonable amount of it is essential to the proper curing and handling of cigar leaf, but too much gum, or oil, usually accompanies a leaf of coarse texture and other inferiorities. If the leaf has large size, in addition to the foregoing qualities, it is also desirable.
The greater the proportion of fine wrappers in a crop, the larger its value. Sometimes a fine crop will yield 60 per cent, or more, of prime to good wrappers, 25 per cent seconds and balance fillers. A poor crop, from the same township the same year, may not yield more than 10 to 25 per cent wrappers, and these will be inferior compared to the fine crop. The proportion of wrappers in New England and Pennsylvania leaf is usually larger than in New York, Ohio, or Wisconsin crops. CHAPTER XVII
To successfully raise, cure and market cigar wrapper tobacco of the finest quality is, therefore, a business of great care and involves constant attention to every detail of management at the different stages. The importance of attention to these details is of greater consequence in this crop than in almost any other that is generally grown. To successfully grow the crop, in the first place, is a difficult matter, to cure it properly is of almost equal importance. A thorough knowledge ot every phase of culture and curing is essential to success, and it is difficult to say that one is of more consequence than the other, but if such a comparison were made, the preference would be given to culture; for, although a finely grown crop may be injured by careless curing, no skill in curing can make a first-class product of a poorly grown leaf.
The distribution of the cigar-leaf crop has been closely studied by the New England Homestead, whose reports upon it are the accepted authority. Its latest data is as follows, comparing the "boom years" of 1899 with some later crops:
Total, 26,124 35,379 62,772 70,128 101,038
•In the absence of the complete system of keeping tab upon the crop in these States which we have perfected for New York and New England by a farm-to-farm census, the data for Pennsylvania, OhU and Wisconsin are partly estimated.
YIELD PER ACRE AND TOTAL CROP.
SPECIAL FERTILIZATION FOR CIGAR LEAP.
To definitely settle certain mooted points in fertilization for cigar wrappers, a number of progressive farmers organized The Connecticut Tobacco Experiment Company in 1892, bought a tract of old, worn-out land at Poquonock, and arranged with the Connecticut State experiment station to conduct tests on plots of one-twentieth of an acre each, upon the following general plan of experiment:
1. The following experiments should be carried out on the same land for at least five years in succession.
2. While the quantity of crop should be accurately determined, very special attention should be given to the judgment of its quality for cigar wrappers. This judgment should be given by men of large practical experience in the trade in leaf tobacco, and the samples should be so submitted that the judges should have no knowledge of any particulars regarding the manner in which the separate lots of leaf were raised.
8. The final judgment on its quality should be made after the leaf has been fermented in the usual way, and the whole crop, rather than small samples from each crop, should be fermented together.
4. The following questions are those which, as far as circumstances permit, should receive immediate attention:
a. What is the effect on quantity and quality of leaf of larger applications of cottonseed meal than are commonly used as a fertilizer?
6. What is the comparative effect on quantity and quality of leaf of applications of cantor pomace containing the same amounts of nitrogen as the cottonseed meal used in experiments under a?
c. If a heavy application of nitrogen, in form of castor pomace, proves injurious to the leaf, can the injury be les