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The last time a little dirt is pulled up to the plants. The number of leaves left in topping the plant is sometimes greater. Hardy, vigorous plants are topped very often to 14 leaves, but the general practice is to leave 10 or 12, the first topping, and diminish the number in subsecment toppings. A larger number of leaves is usually left where harvesting is done by picking off the leaves. Before topping, the lower leaves are taken off. They form a hiding place for the horn worm during the heat of the day.
HARVESTING OF YELLOW TOBACCO.
From two to four weeks in the Champaign districts, and from three to five weeks in the Piedmont ^atricts, and from six to eight weeks in the mountainous districts, after the plants have been topped, the harvesting begins. Usually in the Champaign districts the that ripening of plants takes place about the 25th of July, while it is two or four weeks later in the Piedmont and mountainous districts. In all the yellow tobacco region two methods are employed in harvesting the crop. One is to strip the leaves from the plant as they ripen, and the other is to cut the whole plant, as in the heavy shipping districts. The first method is growing in popularity, and is almost universally employed in the new districts, where habit has not sanctioned and fixed the second method, that is, of cutting the entire plant. The new tobacco districts are more open to improvements than the old. Many intelligent growers, who use both methods, say that much better "cures" are made when the leaves are successively stripped from the stalk. Other planters, equally as intelligent, say that the tobacco lacks oil when so cured. When the stripping method is employed, the leaves, as they ripen, are pulled from the stalk, put in baskets (Fig. 104), or tied in a cloth, and sometimes taken directly from the strippers to a wagon and carried to the barn, where they are strung upon sticks, either with wire or twine. Others carry them to a brush harbor, which protects them from the sun, and where they are strung on sticks before being taken to the curing house.
Mr. John Sims, of Halifax county, Virginia, who is an old and successful tobacco grower, writes that there are several patents for stringing with wire. One of these consists of a stick four and a half feet long, with several wires twisted around at intervals of about eight inches. These wires extend out in opposite directions, about five inches perpendicular to the stick, Fig. 105. On each of these projections four or five leaves of tobacco are strung, by piercing the thick part of the stem with the wire. Each stick will hold from CO to 70 leaves. Another patent has simply the wire bent in the middle so as to hug the stick. These wires, after they are filled with leaves, are slipped over the stick. We doubt the validity Draw Twist For Tying of these patents, as similar devices LEAVES TO Polks. (Fig. 100) were used in the Connecticut valley long before these patents were taken out. The objection to the use of both of these appliances is that they are expensive, and that the tobacco cannot be bulked down while remaining on the sticks, which is often necessary, ind it is also frequently necessary to hang it up on the tier poles again for reordering.
Mr. Sims says: "The easiest, cheapest and most convenient way is to use ordinary twine, or cotton strings large enough for bag strings. Cut off a piece about twice as long as a tobacco stick, and loop the middle of the string over the center of the stick. Place one end of the stick against the wall of the barn, and the other end against the stomach, so as to have the use of both hands. With one end of the string in the right hand, have a boy to hand three leaves at a time. Grasp these in the left hand and place them close to the stick, then wrap the string from von around the leaves, one half an inch from the ends of the stems, then turn the loaves completely over and across the stick, thus form ing a draw twist (Fig. lot), which will never come off. The next three leaves are thrown over on the other side of the sticft, and thus each trio of leaves is thrown alternately on one side and the other. Nine or ten bunches will fill half the stick (Fig. 108), and the string is fastened by drawing it through a sloping cut in the stick made from the person. The stick is then turned, and the other end filled in like manner." Tobacco tied with strings can be easily taken down and put in "coops," or hung in a pit to order for stripping.
It is claimed that this twist is covered by a valid patent. This method has long been in use in the Connecticut valley, where the whole plant, instead of a bundle of leaves, is tied upon the poles with string. Some still persist in twisting the string between the plant and the stick, bat most growers long since gave up that twist as wholly unnecessary. The quickest way is good enough if the string is kept taut: Fix the string to a nail or slit in the end of the pole, pass it around the further side of the first plant, thence across to the next plant or bundle, the same as shown in pictures, without bothering with the twist at all.
Mr. J. B. Smith, of Milton, N. C, a strong advocate of the new method of housing tobacco by stripping the leaves from the stalk, says that the most important advantages of the new process over the old are:
1. The planter can begin to house his crop from two to four weeks earlier. 2. Everything is saved, and there is no loss by "firing on the hill." 3. As the lower leaves are pulled off, those left on the stalk ripen up and yellow more rapidly, which enables the planter to get in his crop earlier in the season. 4. Tobacco can be cured a more uniform color. 5. Less fuel will be required. 6. The risk of setting fire to the barn will be greatly lessened. 7. The tobacco can be stored in a much smaller space, and with no danger of losing color, or of mold. 8. By this process enough leaves, which are lost by the old process, will be saved to pay for the fertilizer necessary to grow the crop, also to pay for all extra labor needed in housing the same. 9. It will help to solve the problem of overproduction, by grading up the tobacco in our section so as to place us above the competition of those sections which grow low grades of tobacco, which in the past few years has proved so detrimental to our pockets.
When the whole stalk is cut, in harvesting, it is not put upon the ground to wilt, as is done in the heavy
FIO. 108. POLE WITH "BANDS" OF LEAVES TIED ON EITHER SIDE.
tobacco districts. Two men cut, while another person holds a stick convenient for them to straddle each plant over it as it is severed from the ground. The stick, when it has six or seven plants on it, is taken to a wagon and either cooped or hung in a frame made for hauling green tobacco. Or it may be hauled on a sled, as seen in Fig. 109. When the tobacco is loaded, it is taken to the barn and arranged on tiers from eight inches to a foot apart.
There is no question that this is a much neater and safer plan for housing tobacco than that employed in the other tobacco districts, where it is put upon the ground to wilt, but the method practiced in the yellow tobacco districts could not be employed where the plants are very large and very heavy without the greatest injury from breaking and bruising the leaves. The ripened plants of yellow tobacco are small, with delicate midrib, and may, with a little care, be handled with safety without being wilted. The dangers to be apprehended from sunburn, rains, dirt, and bruising from handling, are all lessened by putting the plants on the sticks as they are cut.
MANAGEMENT OF YELLOW TOBACCO AFTER CURING.
Curing yellow tobacco has been described in Chapter X. Generally the following morning, after the fires under the tobacco have died out, if the doors are left open, the plants will be sufficiently limp to be handled without breaking. But should there not be enough humidity in the atmosphere to make the plants supple, wet straw should be scattered over the floor of the barn, and the doors shut so as to exclude the dry atmosphere. In 24 hours the tobacco will be in such order that it may be handled without damage. This result may be hastened by building small fires in the furnaces, and placing vessels containing water over the flues. When in order, the tobacco is "cooped" down on a platform, without removing it from the sticks, with the butts out and the tails lapping. The best way is to make a shingle pile of six or eight sticks, and then shingle backwards and forwards, in this way building up a pile five or six feet high and eight or ten feet long. Staying in such a pile greatly improves the color, and makes the leaves smooth and neat in appearance. The leaves should be soft and the stems hard half way from the butts to the tails, when the tobacco is taken down. It must be borne in mind, that any green stalks or stems will prove highly injurious to the tobacco so bulked down. When the leaves have