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growth and, perhaps, rank vegetable matter, is preferred for cigar leaf.
Rotation of Crops.—The present practice among growers of the best quality of cigar leaf in the Connecticut and Housatonic valleys, is to select the land most suitable for the crop, and continue growing tobacco upon it year after year. There are several reasons for this practice, as stated by Frye, Sanderson, Andross and others.
In the first place, tobacco is so sensitive to the influence of fertilizers, or to an accumulation of vegetable matter in the soil, as to raise serious objections to any rotation. It is claimed by growers of highest experience, that tobacco fields need long and careful preparation to get into a condition that will yield a large crop with a perfect burn, thin leaf, bright and light colors. The manuring and treatment of the soils which may be best for other crops, may be objectionable for tobacco. The lower grades and cheaper forms of commercial fertilizers used for corn, grass, potatoes, etc., usually contain chlorine, salt and other substances that would have a bad effect on tobacco, directly following such a crop in a rotation.
The form in which potash is used is especially important. An oversupply of potash is not exhausted in one season, but apparently remains in the soil until taken out by successive crops. As the onion is a large potash feeder, and also responds to delicate feeding, it is probably the best crop to alternate with tobacco. Ash rich in potash is usually employed on onions, either in the form of carbonate of potash, or chemical fertilizers, supplying it in the form of high grade sulphate. The close culture of an onion field also assists in improving its mechanical and uniform condition, and in other ways assists in preparing the soil for tobacco. Potatoes are also good potash feeders, but it is not safe to use them on tobacco land, unless we are positive that the fertilizer used furnishes the potash in the form of high grade sulphate, as the muriate of potash, or lower grade potash, salts usually have a deleterious effect upon the quality of tobacco. A crop of turnips may be grown on tobacco fields the same season to advantage, provided the tops and small turnips are plowed under at the last moment possible before freezing up. Spinach or beet greens can be grown to advantage before tobacco plants are set in the spring, as working the soil for them assists in putting it in good mechanical condition, without drawing upon its elements of fertility to any appreciable extent.
Tobacco grown continuously on the same land, richly manured year after year, is in danger of containing too much potash or magnesia after a while. In such cases, and as a corrective of the soil, seeding to grass is the method now preferred. A liberal quantity of grass seed and clover seed is used, and the soil is so rich that a tremendous stand of grass is obtained, which is usually mowed twice the first year, but the second year, immediately after the first mowing, the sod is turned under with a shallow plow, the field being again more deeply plowed just before the ground freezes. It is then kept in tobacco for several years, according to the quality of the crop. If the land is used for corn or potatoes, such crops should be followed by oats or rye before the field is used for tobacco. The oat or rye stubble is turned under shallow immediately after the grain is cut, and is again plowed deeply in the fall, the same as for grass. This leaves the land in better condition for the tobacco crop than if it were set immediately after corn or potatoes. Grass can also follow the latter crops before tobacco is planted.
In central and southern New York, rotation of crops for tobacco is still practiced to a large extent, but the best growers are rapidly coming to adopt the Connecticut practice on this point. Tobacco has been produced on the same piece of land in Onondaga county, N. Y., for nearly forty successive years, yet the fields, of late years, have averaged nearly twice as much per acre as on newer lands, properly managed and cared for, while the quality is all that could be expected. Pennsylvania experience is much along the same line, and in Wisconsin tobacco is more and more grown upon old land.
Preparation of the soil.—This begins "the year before." Fall plowing is essential to the best results. Tobacco needs almost as deep and thoroughly pulverized soil as does the sugar beet. Many of the best growers prefer to plow under a grass sod as soon as the hay crop is secured, plowing as shallow as possible, and have the sward well turned under. Another plowing to the full depth, just before the ground freezes up, will do much to prevent trouble from cutworms. Manure may be plowed under in fall or spring. Thorough spring plowing is to be insisted upon. Some growers practice running a subsoil plow in the furrow after the fall plowing, especially on soils liable to drouth. Probably the better plan, with stable manure, tobacco stalks, and similar bulky material, is to spread it broadcast in the fall or early winter, to be plowed under in the early spring. All forms of vegetable fertilizer, such as cottonseed meal, linseed meal, etc., are broadcasted and harrowed in about two weeks before the time of setting plants, but long before this the soil has been wheel-harrowed after the spring plowing, and cross-harrowed with a fine-tooth harrow.
Varieties, and Other Points.—Manuring and fertilization have already been exhaustively treated in Chapters VI and XVIII, which should be carefully studied. The whole subject of varieties, seed and seedbeds, plants and transplanting, pests, etc., are covered in the chapters on those subjects. Formerly, Connecticut broadleaf, or some of its sub-varieties, was generally grown throughout the cigar-leaf sections of the North, but now its place has been quite generally taken by domesticated Cuban or Havana seed tobacco, several strains or subvarieties of which are used in different localities. The way in which this variety has supplanted the old broadleaf is a marked instance of the change that may come to even the oldest agricultural industry. At present, the broadleaf is grown in perfection mainly in a limited section about East Hartford and Windsor in the Connecticut valley, where about 2000 acres are annually devoted
FIO. 116. OOSLEE'S RIDC.ER AND MARKER.
Made by the Beicher A Taylor Agricultural Tool Co., Chicopee Falls, Mass.
to it. Where plants are set by hand, the Gosleo ridger (Fig. 116) is often used. Its wings gather the earth into a ridge, with the fertilizers that are spread broadcast for starting the plant. The smoothing plate that the machine rides on smooths the ridges, and the wheel with the points partly makes the holes for the plants, and spaces them off.
Doctor Daroczi, editor of the Hungarian Tobacco Gazette, of Budapest, has propagated tobacco from slips, and claims that the leaves harvested from such propagated plants are finer and of higher quality than those of the mother plant. We find, upon inquiry, however, that he has made only a few pot experiments. His claims have led to some discussion in Germany and Austro-Hungary, during which numerous instances have been reported of tobacco plants from three to seven years old. These plants were wintered in a greenhouse, the seven-year-old plant measuring six yards in hight and seven and one-half inches around the stem. Mr. Wallensick, of Buende, possesses a cane made of the stem of a five-year-old plant. In another case, new and vigorous plants started with independent roots from pieces of old root, this being really propagation by layering, the same as for grapevines.
Every practical tobacco grower in America, however, is familiar with the second growth of suckers that comes up from old stalks after a mild winter, or that grows after the harvest if the fall is favorable. Col. Killebrew has studied this point in Mexico, where tobacco is perennial, but even to make good leaf in that country no reliance can be placed upon suckers coming from the principle stalk. "Whether it will ever be feasible to propagate by slips or layers, remains to be demonstrated. Until this is proven, we must sow the seed, raise the plants, and set them out with all their original vitality, in order to make good tobacco of any variety. In Cuba and southern Florida, a second, and even a third, crop of fillers may be obtained from a single sucker left at the first and second cuttings of the crop.
Opinions differ about distance to set tobacco. In New England, Havana seed is usually planted in rows three or three and one-fourth feet apart, and plants 12 to 18 inches apart in the row. For Connecticut broadleaf and all varieties of the larger domestic seedleaf, rows are usually three and one-half feet apart, with 18 inches between plants in the row. The object of having the plants closer in the row is to get a very thin leaf, but