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the chances of success greater, and the plant has already had a better growth. In some cases, Havana is toppled over so that it does not show badly at first and will soon hold up its head, but neglect, even in such cases, results in crooked stalks, which do not hang so well on the poles and by contact increase liability to pole sweat. Beside, such leaf will not strip as well, or sell as well, as if it had been promptly straightened up. Usually, this trouble occurs before or about the time of topping; after the plant has been topped, it stands up firmer. Should any plant have its center bud broken, or eaten off, early in the season, it will come up with several suckers, or sprouts, and will not amount to much; such plants should be replaced, if not too late.
Priming.—This consists in pulling off the bottom leaves, to the number of four or five. Any plant, large enough to top, ought to be primed first, and a general rule is not to prime until the plant is ready to top also. Many good growers omit this process altogether, although by that plan they increase the class called "lugs," and lighten the weight of the better leaves.
Topping.—As to when and how much to top (see Fig. 86, Page 294), there is a large difference of opinion and practice. Some begin as soon as a majority of the plants in a field have budded, and thus go over the ground a second time. Others make it a rule to wait until a majority of the plants have blossomed, with the idea of finishing the job at one time as far as possible. A feeble plant will do better if topped low, so that it will have comparatively few leaves mature. But whether cigar-leaf plants in general should be topped high, or low, is a disputed point. Those who advocate low topping claim they get lower leaves thereby; on the other hand, the high toppers say the leaves thus obtained, although large, are coarse; immense in quantity, but not superior in quality. With high topping, it is claimed the grower secures not only more wrappers, but more total weight. Every grower must decide, from the condition of the growing crop, how high or low to top.
Suckering.—The natural inclination of the plant to propagate itself through the formation of the seed, is intercepted by topping, but the plant at once attempts to repair the damage. In a few days, say five or seven, suckers, or shoots, begin to appear at the junction of the leaf with the parent stem. When three or four inches long, they must be pinched off. As in topping, this must be done with thumb and fingers, to prevent the too copious exudation of the sap. Cigar-leaf tobacco usually requires suckering but twice; at first, about half way down, and the second time clean from top to bottom. Unless removed when young and tender, they grow hard and fibrous and must be removed with a knife, which results in severe bleeding. In suckering, as in topping, the utmost care must be taken not to break or injure the leaves. If the leaves are found turned up by the wind, or any other cause, they should be put into their natural position, for the sun has a bad effect upon the underside, often scorching, or blistering it. Many otherwise careful growers neglect to properly "sucker," especially in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, to the serious detriment of the crop.
Ripening.—In the course of two or three weeks after topping, the plants will begin to ripen, which may be known by the change* in the color of the leaf. It wi! look spotted with spots of a lighter, yellowish green. When fully ripe, the leat may be folded and considerably pressed without breaking. This is the time to harvest. It is well to let the crop stand, if not fully ripe, as long as it can safely be done, for the cool nights have a tendency to thicken the leaf, or give it more "body," without interfering with its quality in other respects. Many, however, prefer to cut as soon as ripe, and get it safely housed and out of danger from frost and hail. It certainly is a great temptation to cut before it has been touched by hail, frost, rust, or any other disease. It is true that tobacco affected by any of these things is nearly worthless, but the same is also true of plants cut too early. Such tobacco is almost sure to pole sweat and then it is gone, anyway, and even if the leaf does escape, it is thin and lacking in weight and is also liable to white veins. A rule which was in force years ago, to cut only such plants as were thoroughly ripe, hunting them out for the purpose and leaving the unripe ones to stand some days longer, is still a good one. This is especially applicable to all plants grown in wet spots, for these do not mature as early as those in dry places.
Some experienced growers maintain that there is a certain date when tobacco is ripe, and that if allowed to stand after this date it deteriorates in color and quality. When tobacco, for lack of fertilizers, or for any other reason, turns yellow, or fades, and the plant neither ripens nor grows, the longer it stands the more it deteriorates in value and quality and shrinks in quantity, and the sooner such fields are cut the better. No precise rule can be given as to when tobacco is ripe. Some say that seedleaf will ripen in from ten days to three weeks after topping, and Havana in about three weeks, but, generally, Havana should stand quite four weeks, though it will, of course, depend on the weather and plants; if it is wet, tobacco won't ripen as quickly as when dry. Some fertilizers will keep the plant fresh, green and growing longer than others. Tobacco cut before fully ripe may look nice before going through the sweat, but when it comes out, it is tender and will make but few wrappers, to say nothing of the greater liability to pole sweat. The green cut leaf may cure off darker, but it is not so well filled out, is not so smooth and fine, and
will not bring as high price as the ripe leaf when properly cured.
Harvesting.—Cutting tobacco in the Northern cigarleaf States usually begins about the middle of August, and continues, as the plant arrives at maturity, through the month of September, but it may begin and end considerably earlier or later, according to the season. The plants, when grown upon warm, sandy soils, mature from one to two weeks earlier than when upon dark soils. Cut from the time the dew is nearly off the ground until three o'clock, when all plants must be cut down at once, which are to be hauled that day. Do not leave any out over night if possible. On the other hand, take care that too much is not cut when the sun is so hot as to sunburn the leaves. Such leaves will no' cure, but are always green. Don't cut when there L danger of frost, because it will have a serious effect on wilted tobacco, whereas it might not injure the growing leaf at all. The plants should be' put into the shed as soon after cutting as can be done without breaking the leaves. It must be wilted somewhat to be handled comfortably. If wilted too much, the leaves will stick together and then will never cure well. After one side is wilted, the cut plant should be turned over so that the other side may wilt. Some prefer a cloudy day for cutting, as the plants are less liable to sunburn.
In cutting, the stalk is grasped with the left hand, bent over to the left until the bottom of the stalk is exposed, and is then cut off close to the ground with one blow of a hatchet, or cleaver. Some, however, prefer to saw it off with a handsaw. In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, a kind of shears is now commonly used, the long handles of which give a leverage that easily cuts off the stoutest plant. Let the stalk drop over on the ground, without doubling the leaves under; lay the plants at right angles to the row with the butts all oue