Bulletin No. 40
RALPH STOUTAMIRE, 1930
REVISED BY C. P. HELFENSTEIN, 1936
State of Florida
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
Introduction and History .........................
Production, 1880 Through 1935 ...................
Tax Revenue from Tobacco, 1863 Through 1935 ..
Soils for: W rapper Tobacco ......................
Filler Tobacco, Bright Tobacco ..............
Preparation and Care of Plant Beds ................
Fertilizing the Plant Bed .........................
Preparing the Land for:
Wrapper and Filler Tobacco ..................
Bright Tobacco .............................
Fertilizers for: W rapper Tobacco ..................
Filler Tobacco ..............................
Bright Tobacco ..................
Transplanting and Cultivating:
Wrapper Tobacco ...............
Filler Tobacco, Bright Tobacco .....
Harvesting and Curing: ...............
Wrapper and Filler Tobaccos .....
Bright Tobacco ..................
Fermenting and Packing ..............
Sorting and Selecting .................
Grading and Marketing Bright Tobacco .
Selecting Tobacco Seed ...............
Construction of Tobacco Shades ........
Curing Barns for:
Wrapper and Filler Tobaccos ......
Bright Tobacco ..................
Cost of Production: Wrapper Tobacco ..
Filler and Bright Tobaccos ........
Diseases: Black Shank ...............
Root-Knot, Wildfire ........ . .. .
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. .. 36
F rog-eye ...................................
Brown Spot ...............................
Downy Mildew or Blue Mold ..................
Insect Enemies: Budworms, Hornworms ..........
Flea-Beetles, Cutworms, Grasshoppers,
Pum pkin Bugs .............................
Acknowledgm ents ...............................
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Tobacco Growing In Florida
By Ralph Stoutamire, 1930; Revised by C. P. Helfenstein, 1936
OBACCO is linked with nearly every phase of Ameri-
can life and industry. Its phenomenal increase in
consumption during the last decade is perhaps un-
equalled by any other agricultural product. This, despite
the fights that have been waged upon it by individuals and
societies created for that express purpose. Loved and
hated, cherished and despised, it goes merrily along as one
of this country's leading commodities.
The tobacco plant has been grown in Florida for more
than a hundred years. In 1850 the total amount produced
in the state was reported at about a million pounds, and
there was a rapid increase until 1860. Cigar-leaf was the
principal type grown during this early period. It was light
in color and very desirable for the manufacture of cigars.
Virtually all of the crop produced during this early
period was sold on European markets, as the cigar trade in
the United States demanded dark wrappers.
During the Civil War the European markets could not
obtain the Florida product and found other sources for
their tobacco. Since they did not return to Florida after
the close of the war, tobacco was grown only on a limited
scale until about 1889. During that period-from 1865 to
1889-the demands of the cigar trade in the United States
changed from dark to light colored leaf, and they found
that the Florida tobacco fulfilled their requirements better
than that from other sources.
In 1896 it was demonstrated that the quality of leaf
could be greatly improved for cigar wrappers by growing
the crop under artificial shade. This idea originated with
D. A. Shaw of Quincy, Florida, and he conducted the first
experiments which demonstrated the possibilities. Follow-
ing this improvement in quality, which was attended by an
increased demand for the tobacco,, there was a rapid ex-
pansion in the industry. By 1910 the total shade in the
state was estimated at about 4,000 acres. Since that year
the total acreage has increased very little. During the
last few years virtually all of the shaded tobacco has been
grown in Gadsden and Madison Counties.
One of the cigar types of tobacco, originally imported
from Sumatra, is now grown in the open for cigar filler.
Production of Cigars, Cigarettes and Tobacco
At the End of Each Five Year Period
1900 to 1935
All other forms of
Cigars and Cigarettes Are
Charted In BILLIONS of
Is Charted In Hundred
Millions of POUNDS.
1900 1905 1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 1935
PRODUCTION OF CIGARETTES, CIGARS, MANUFACTURED
TOBACCO AND SNUFF, YEARS 1880 TO 1936
Cigars (Thousands) Cigarettes Manufactured
Year (Weighing not more (Weighing more than Tobacco, Snuff,
than 3 lbs. per 1,000) 3 lbs. per 1,000) Etc., (Pounds)
1880 532,718,995 2,509,653,197 146,429,534
1885 1,079,542,910 3,293,662,991 207,066,955
1886 1,607,272,396 3,462,014,287 209,964,174
1887 1,865,287,082 3,661,630,422 226,353,466
1888 2,211,900,645 3,668,162,486 209,353,016
1889 2,413,349,811 3,787,229,453 246,159,585
1890 2,505,167,610 4,228,528,258 252,861,754
1891 3,137,318,596 4,422,024,212 270,529,326
1892 3,282,001,283 4,674,708,260 273,839,694
1893 3,660,755,959 4,341,240,981 250,540,438
1894 3,620,666,804 4,163,641,327 268,642,171
1895 4,237,754,453 4,099,119,855 274,292,549
1896 4,967,444,232 4,048,463,306 261,417,500
1897 4,631,820,620 4,135,594,125 297,089,312
1898 4,384,037,982 4,458,836,966 275,139,929
1899 3,732,365,163 4,909,566,840 294,635,214
1900 3,254,130,630 5,565,669,701 300,707,189
1901 2,722,979,167 6,139,390,776 313,891,391
1902 2,961,229,132 6,231,714,558 347,615,472
1903 3,360,095,239 6,806,017,429 351,493,096
1904 3,426,890,229 6,640,482,483 353,686,574
1905 3,666,814,273 6,747,869,277 367,517,914
1906 4,501,254,783 7,147,548,312 391,271,522
1907 5,255,572,445 7,302,029,811 387,808,161
1908 5,742,832,524 6,488,907,269 407,541,946
1909 6,818,858,272 6,667,774,915 431,354,910
1910 8,644,335,407 6,810,098,416 447,292,157
1911 10,469,321,101 7,048,505,033 424,080,565
1912 13,167,093,515 7,044,257,235 435,479,949
1913 15,555,692,661 7,571,507,834 443,874,569
1914 16,855,626,104 7,174,191,944 440,935,721
1915 17,964,348,272 6,599,188,078 442,359,219
1916 25,290,293,911 7,042,127,401 466,165,728
1917 35,331,264,067 7,559,890,349 482,976,984
1918 46,656,903,224 7,053,549,402 497,079,920
1919 53,119,784,232 7,072,357,021 424,068,785
1920 47,430,105,055 8,096,758,663 412,629,566
1921 52,085,011,560 6,726,095,483 386,951,026
1922 55,763,022,618 6,722,354,177 419,506,105
1923 66,715,830,430 6,905,247,389 412,776,875
1924 72,708,989,025 6,597,676,535 414,178,378
1925 82,247,100,347 6,463,193,108 413,872,969
1926 92,096,973,926 6,498,641,233 410,595,716
1927 99,809,031,619 6,519,004,960 396,323,980
1928 108,705,505,650 6,373,181,751 386,333,478
1929 122,392,380,846 6,518,533,042 381,199,890
1930 123,802,186,217 5,893,890,418 371,765,909
1931 117,064,214,494 5,347,921,293 371,237,299
1932 106,632,433,834 4,382,722,918 347,278,744
1933 114,874,217,470 4,300,044,810 342,113,160
1934 129,976,333,581 4,525,780,084 345,565,998
1935 134,607,741,257 4,763,883,947 340,326,043
(Compiled from Annual Reports of the Commissioner of
RECEIPTS FROM TAXES ON TOBACCO PRODUCTS, YEARS 1863 TO 1936
from Reports of
the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
Mfg. Tobacco Miscellaneous
and Snuff collections
, 23,397,857 2,048,053
1888 931,363 11,534,179 16,749,008 1,447,880 30,662,430
1889 1,075,830 11,602,156 17,721,988 1,466,882 31,886,856
1890 1,116,627 12,263,669 19,068,212 1,515,480 33,958,988
1891 1,342,269 13,424,678 17,806,787 222,535 32,796,269
1892 1,446,491 13,646,398 15,907,603 .............. 31,000,492
1893 1,588,346 14,442,591 15,858,757 15 31,889,709
1894 1,591,787 12,200,752 14,824,733 625 28,617,897
1895 .1,663,701 12,491,917 15,546,066 3,221 29,704,905
1896 2,021,195 12,713,267 15,972,943 4,221 30,711,626
1897 2,075,830 12,189,507 16,440,206 4,748 30,710,295
1898 3,593,011 13,626,049 18,589,145 422,314 36,230,519
1899 4,203,753 16,307,108 30,205,786 1,776,557 52,493,204
1900 3,953,177 19,138,584 35,267,334 995,986 59,355,081
1901 3,407,433 20,775,363 37,295,226 1,003,881 62,481,903
1902 2,655,974 18,311,142 30,309,973 661,733 51,938,822
1903 3,009,020 20,359,171 19,771,707 374,910 43,514,808
1904 3,203,334 20,122,415 20,928,496 401,560 44,655,805
1905 3,321,297 20,582,743 21,337,257 418,610 45,659,907
1906 3,728,949 21,524,415 22,657,381 512,249 48,422,994
1907 5,117,755 22,470,434 23,555,249 667,629 51,811,067
1908 5,346,603 20,714,276 23,199,428 602,444 49,862,751
1909 6,068,795 20,257,718 24,946,615 614,045 51,887,173
1910 7,921,284 21,420,689 28,131,963 645,418 58,119,354
1911 11,541,513 21,755,714 32,715,319 993,402 67,005,948
1912 14,027,031 21,769,170 33,909,169 884,778 70,590,148
1913 17,845,963 23,097,112 35,005,766 840,580 76,789,424
1914 20,512,983 23,012,496 35,621,756 840,301 79,987,736
1915 20,925,596 21,174,366 34,585,064 2,272,344 79,957,370
1916 26,332,745 22,170,549 36,032,528 3,528,126 88,063,948
RECEIPTS FROM TAXES ON TOBACCO PRODUCTS, YEARS 1863 TO 1936
Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
Mfg. Tobacco Miscellaneous
and Snuff collections
from Reports of the
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
From 1,000 to 1,500 acres of this type are grown in the
state each year.
The culture of bright or flue-cured tobacco was intro-
duced into the northern part of the state in 1924. Most
grades of bright or flue-cured tobacco are used in cigarette
production, while the heavier or filler types are used for
granulated smoking tobaccos and snuff. Since 1924 the
acreage has increased considerably and the crop is now
grown successfully on certain types of soil generally
throughout the Suwannee Valley and as far south as the
southern boundary of Alachua County. The yield per acre
and price obtained on the markets for this type of tobacco
produced in the state compare favorably with the crop pro-
duced in Georgia and the Carolinas. The cigarette grades
of Florida bright leaf are considered by the major tobacco
companies as equal or superior to any produced in the
United States. In 1936 there were about 8,000 acres of
bright tobacco grown in Florida, with an approximate value
Tobacco is a staple crop and fits well into the general
farming system in localities adapted to its culture, but only
certain types of soil will produce the qualities of leaf de-
manded by the trade. Both the surface soil and subsoil
are important in this respect.
The soil must be well drained, as tobacco is very sensitive
to excessive amounts of soil water, especially as it ap-
proaches maturity. During the early years of tobacco cul-
ture in the state, the crop was grown exclusively on virgin
hammock land. The ashes obtained by burning the hard-
wood trees and brush on the land was the only source of
fertilizer. The soils which gave best results by this method
of cultivation were comparatively low, well-drained, gray
sandy loams with a porous clay subsoil. By 1889, when the
demand for Florida leaf had increased, the farmers had
learned the value of stable manure and certain commercial
fertilizers and found that with the judicial use of these
materials a good quality of tobacco could be produced on
Cigar Wrapper Tobacco is being grown most success-
fully at present on the well-drained lighter series of soils:
Norfolk sandy loam, Norfolk fine sandy loam and Orange-
burg sand. With proper fertilization and culture these
soils produce a wrapper leaf of fine texture, light in color
12 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
and weight and with a good "burn." There are other
types of soil in the state which will produce a desirable
quality of wrapper leaf but, as a rule, they occur in small
Filler Tobacco is grown to some extent on all types of
soil planted to the wrapper type but, as a rule, they do not
produce the weight of leaf best suited for cigar filler. Nor-
folk sandy loam, Orangeburg sand and Orangeburg sandy
loam soils, when properly fertilized, usually produce the
largest yields of the desired quality.
Bright or Flue-Cured Tobacco: The type of soil is also
a very important factor in the production of a satisfactory
quality of cigarette and other grades of bright or flue-cured
tobacco. The character of the soil influences the color of
the leaf as well as the other important qualities, as texture,
richness and weight. Color is a very important character
of cigarette tobacco, a bright yellow being the preferred
shade. Ordinarily this bright color can not be produced
on the heavier soils, and the leaf is usually heavy and
The soils best suited for it belong to the Norfolk series.
They are well-drained, light and sandy to a depth of from
six to ten inches and underlaid with a yellowish sandy clay
subsoil. They should be relatively low in nitrogen and
organic matter but responsive to enrichment by means of
fertilizers, manure and cover crops. The lighter colored
and weaker soils usually produce the most desirable color
of leaf, but the leaf is apt to be thin and chaffy. There-
fore, it is necessary to exercise great care in the selection
of the soil for cigarette tobacco, if the greatest returns are
PREPARATION AND CARE OF PLANT BEDS
The young tobacco plant is very small and is subject to
injury by several agencies unless protected. The most
convenient method for protecting the plants is by growing
them in a cloth-covered bed until they are about ready for
The size of this bed is determined by the type of tobacco
and the number of acres of field to be planted. The cus-
tomary rule for cigar wrapper is to plant 100 square yards
of bed for each acre of land to be set from the bed. For
the filler type slightly less bed space is allowed, and 50
square yards is allowed for each acre of cigarette tobacco.
Under favorable conditions these areas of plant bed will
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
produce sufficient plants for two acres. However, favor-
able conditions do not always prevail and it is very import-
ant to have an ample supply of uniform and vigorous plants
at the proper time. Better to have too many than not
Most farmers locate plant beds on new, well-drained
hammock land which is not subject to overflow. The trees
should be cut around the bed to admit sunlight. The beds
should be burned or "fired" to kill any weed seed and para-
sitic fungi which may be present in the surface soil. The
brush and timber are cut and stacked in the autumn and
burned when dry.
After the brush and leaves are burned the land should
be raked clean before the "firing" is started. Having done
this, wooden skids are laid about four feet apart, extending
in the direction of the length of the bed. Wood is laid
across the outer end of the skids and the fire is started.
When the ground has been burned in that location, the
burning wood is drawn along the skids to a new position.
More wood is added as needed and the fire is drawn along
the skids a little at a time until the entire bed has been
The land is then raked free of trash and broken shallow
in order to leave the fertile soil near the surface. The
roots and trash are then removed and the soil should be re-
worked until it is brought into a fine tilth.
Note: It would be well at this stage of the crop for grow-
ers to familiarize themselves with the paragraph pertain-
ing to downy mildew (blue mold), on page 42.
FERTILIZING THE PLANT BED
The plant bed must be very fertile in order to produce
uniform and vigorous plants. About two weeks before
time for sowing the seed, high grade commercial fertilizer
is applied at the rate of from 11/2 to 3 pounds per square
yard and worked into the soil with a disc harrow, small
plow or potato rake, depending upon the size of the bed.
As a rule, beds for cigarette tobacco are not fertilized as
heavily as those for cigar wrapper tobacco.
A good plant bed fertilizer can be made by mixing 2
pounds of a fertilizer analyzing 3 percent ammonia, 8 per-
cent phosphoric acid and 5 percent potash with 1 pound of
cottonseed meal. A commercial brand of poultry manure
which analyzes 6 percent ammonia, 2.5 percent phosphoric
acid and 1.3 percent potash is also very good, when a suffi-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
cient amount of super-phosphate and sulphate of potash is
added to give a total analysis of about 5 percent ammonia,
4 percent phosphoric acid and 3 percent potash.
On the day the seed are to be sown the ground should be
stirred again and divided into "lands" about three or four
feet wide for convenience in sowing the seed, weeding the
beds and pulling the plants. Next level the tops of the
beds and pulverize with iron tooth rakes. One tablespoon-
ful of well-cleaned seed is then mixed with a convenient
amount of dry sifted ashes, or equal parts of sand and
cottonseed meal, and sowed on 100 square yards of bed.
It is advisable to sow over the bed twice, in order to insure
a uniform distribution of seed. The bed is then tramped
with the feet or packed with a roller.
After sowing and packing the beds are covered with
cloth stretched over wires one or two feet above the ground,
or preferably about six feet high, so the bed can be more
easily inspected. Ditches should be opened up around the
bed to insure drainage and to prevent water from flowing
in from the outside.
Cigar wrapper plants are also grown in permanent irri-
gated beds. Individual farmers and companies who grow
large acreages of tobacco can grow plants more success-
fully on this kind of bed. Permanent irrigated beds are
usually located on upland or near the pumping stations in
easy access to the steam and water supply. When located
in the open the beds are enclosed with board walls and
have a wire frame stretched overhead about six or seven
feet high. The overhead sprinkler type of irrigation is
used in that case.
Stable manure is usually applied on permanent beds.
This is applied in fall and turned under. The soil is then
sterilized by the inverted steam-pan method, using from
80 to 100 pounds of pressure for 45 minutes.
About two weeks before time to sow the seed commercial
fertilizer is applied at the rate of 2 or 3 pounds per square
yard and thoroughly worked into the soil.
On the day the seed are to be sown the bed is prepared
in "lands," as explained for new land beds, and the seed
are sown at the rate of 1 tablespoonful per 100 square
yards. Shade cloth is stretched over the wire frame before
the seed are sown, and after the seed are planted a second
cloth is stretched over the bed about two or three feet above
the ground and supported by wire. The date of sowing
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
the seed varies somewhat with seasonal conditions but, as a
rule, they are sown during the last week of December and
the first half of January.
The beds should be irrigated lightly immediately after
the seed are sown and thereafter as often as necessary to
prevent the formation of a dry crust on the surface of the
soil. Since the seed are on the surface of the soil and are
very easily injured by drying out, the soil has to be kept
moist, not wet, until the roots become established. Remove
the lower cloth as soon as danger from frost has passed
and the top cloth a few days before the plants are ready
for transplanting to the field in order to harden them off.
Immediately before pulling the plants the soil should be
sprinkled thoroughly in order that the maximum amount of
the root system may be removed with the plant in pulling it
from the bed. Place the plants in baskets or crates as they
are pulled. When the basket is filled, set it down on the
bottom with the plants in an upright position. Keep the
plants in the shade or covered with burlap until they are
PREPARING THE LAND, for-
Cigar Wrapper and Filler Tobacco: Unless the land is
new or already built up, a crop rotation system ought to be
adopted two or three years in advance of the tobacco crop,
in order to have the land in the best possible condition.
Corn and velvet beans are good crops to precede tobacco,
provided the corn is fertilized and the stalks and vines are
turned under early in the fall so they will have ample time
to decay before the tobacco is set.
Do not plant crops susceptible to root-knot on the land
Good results have been obtained by planting oats or rye
and vetch early in the fall and turning-them under by the
first of February. If these crops are allowed to grow much
later than this, the soil may become infested with cutworms
and the vegetation will not have time to decay before the
tobacco is ready to transplant. Whatever method of
preparation is used in fall, the land should be broken again
Bright Tobacco: Although vegetable matter in"an ad-
vanced stage of decay is desirable for bright tobacco, it
should not be excessively rich in ammonia. Therefore,
crops which supply a large amount of slowly decaying
16 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
vegetable matter should not be grown on land immediately
preceding bright tobacco.
In certain sections of this and other states rye and oats
have proved satisfactory, either when the crop is turned
under green or when cut for grain and the land left idle for
the remainder of the year. Likewise good quality of to-
bacco has been produced on land following a two- or three-
year rotation of corn, bunch velvet beans, Brabham cow-
peas and peanuts.
In any event, no crop which is susceptible to root-knot
should be grown on land immediately preceding bright
tobacco, as tobacco is very susceptible to root-knot and may
suffer serious loss on infested land. The land ought to be
broken in fall in order to give ample time for vegetation to
decay before plants are ready to set. In the case of pre-
paring rested land it is also important that all briars and
briar roots be cleared from the land as briar roots are quite
susceptible to root-knot.
Fig. 2. Shade tobacco during early stage of growth.
h4)+,+ :" .+ ..
+" a.._., -= .. .:, -_ -. .
ik - + :,... : .. : -+- .'
+ :-+ M +:,= +':-: =:" .
I -. 2 - -.: <. .- .,+ :- i,. -
I- 4- +- ., +,: -. ,-
F4+ + + -- ..,. .
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 17
Cigar Wrapper Tobacco: So far as known, there is no
"best" shade tobacco fertilizer or "best" formula for all
seasons for even the same field. Differences in weather
and soil conditions are in part responsible for the variable
results obtained. However, experimentation has shown
that certain kinds and combinations of fertilizers produce
on the average a better quality of leaf than do certain
others. Different soils vary in their composition and in
their response to fertilizers.
However, all soils require the addition of organic mat-
ter, nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash for the successful
production of cigar wrapper tobacco.
Stable manure, leguminous crops, as velvet beans and
Brabham cowpeas, and oats and rye are good sources of
organic matter. They also supply some nitrogen. As a
rule, from 10 to 15 tons of stable manure are applied per
acre. Stable manure and cover crops improve the physical
and biological characters of the soil and in the process of
decay help make available the mineral nutrients of the soil
and commercial fertilizers. Manure or other organic mat-
ter should be turned under during the fall or early winter
so it will be decomposed by the time the plants are set in
In order to obtain rapid and uninterrupted growth of
cigar wrapper tobacco, both essential to produce the best
quality of leaf, it is necessary to make heavy applications
of commercial fertilizer in addition to stable manure. The
usual amount applied is from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of a
mixture containing from 4 to 5 percent ammonia, from 6
to 8 percent phosphoric acid and from 4 to 6 percent pot-
ash, and 2,000 pounds of cottonseed meal and castor
pomace as sources of ammonia, bone meal or precipitated
bone meal as sources of phosphoric acid, and carbonate or
sulphate of potash as sources of potash. Muriate of potash
or kainit should not be used as sources of potash, as the
chlorine they contain tends to injure the burning quality
of the leaf.
Commercial fertilizer should be applied two or three
weeks before the plants are set. It is applied in the row,
mixed into the soil with a solid sweep or straight shovel
plow, and a bed is made over it with a one-horse turn plow.
Cigar Filler Tobacco: As a rule, smaller amounts of fer-
tilizer are required to grow a large yield of good quality
18 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 3. Views of fields of bright leaf or flue-cured tobacco.
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
filler leaf than are required for wrapper. Although many
growers use lighter applications, experience of older grow-
ers and packers has shown that best results, in quality and
yield, are obtained with about 10 tons of stable manure,
1,000 pounds of cottonseed meal and 1,000 pounds of a
mixture containing 4 percent ammonia, 6 percent phos-
phoric acid and 5 percent potash. If less stable manure is
used, the mixture should be increased proportionately.
The source of the plant nutrients for filler leaf should be
the same as for cigar wrapper leaf. However, the opinions
of growers and packers regarding the source of potash are
somewhat divergent. Certain ones believe that sulphate
of potash is as good as carbonate; others condemn it. Al-
though both forms have produced good quality of leaf,
there may be an advantage in changing the form of potash
where the land is cropped to tobacco continuously. Muriate
of potash or kainit are not to be recommended, because the
chlorine which they contain injures the burning quality of
Bright Tobacco: If the land has not been built up as
suggested under "preparation of the land," from two to
four wagon loads of stable manure ought to be applied per
acre to land to be grown to bright tobacco. Distribute this
in the row considerably in advance of the date of trans-
planting so it will have time to decompose. Apply com-
mercial fertilizer from 10 to 14 days before the plants are
set, in order to avoid possible injury to the roots of the
young plants. Apply the fertilizer evenly, either by hand
or with a distributor. It is advisable to mix the fertilizer
with the soil before the bed is made on it.
The proper rate of applying fertilizer of a given analysis
varies for different soils and conditions and can be determ-
ined in advance only within wide limits. Each of the three
plant nutrients-ammonia, phosphoric acid and potash-
are essential to produce desired quality. However, an ex-
cess of fertilizer is to be avoided, if a satisfactory yield and
quality is to be produced.
So far, commercial fertilizers found most satisfactory for
Florida soils contain from 3 to 4 percent ammonia, from 8
to 10 percent phosphoric acid and from 5 to 6 percent pot-
ash. The customary rate of applying fertilizer of the
above analysis is from 800 to 1,000 pounds to the acre, the
larger amount being used on the lighter soils.
The source of plant nutrients is also very important for
bright tobacco. For average conditions half of the am-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
monia should be derived from inorganic sources and the
other half from organic. The inorganic portion should
come in equal parts from nitrate of soda and sulphate of
ammonia and the organic portion from cottonseed meal and
tankage. However, avoid use of any fertilizer containing
a large percentage of tankage or fish scrap, as it has been
found that a form of oil contained in these will encourage
root-knot. Superphosphate (acid phosphate) is the best
source of phosphoric acid, and sulphate of potash is the best
source of potash.
TRANSPLANTING AND CULTIVATING
Cigar Wrapper Tobacco: The bed is remade on the
morning of the day the plants of cigar wrapper tobacco are
to be set. This is done by throwing the old bed back on
the middles and then making a fresh bed with a seven-inch
shovel or turn plow with the wing removed. Immediately,
before the plants are set, the top of the bed is raked off
with a hoe or with a board attached to a plow stock. Dur-
ing a wet season it is better to set the plants a little above
The location of the plants is marked by running a mark-
er, with projections attached at the desired intervals (from
10 to 14 inches), down the center of the row. The plants
are dropped by hand on the mark and set with dibbles.
Water is then poured around each plant in the depression
made with the dibble. The amount of water applied varies
with the condition of the soil, but it is always advisable to
water cigar wrapper tobacco, as a uniform start is very
The plants which fail to start in five or six days should be
replaced with fresh ones. It is usually not profitable to
replant missing hills later than the seventh day.
After the plants are set do not disturb for about a week,
unless the weather is dry and windy. In this case it is ad-
visable to plow more earth to the bed to prevent rapid dry-
ing out of the bed. The first plowing is done with a two-
inch scooter, running two or three furrows on each side of
the bed, being careful not to cover the plants or disturb the
roots. The remainder of the middle is then broken out
with a wider plow of the same kind. Subsequent cultiva-
tion should be as shallow as possible, unless the soil be-
comes packed by heavy rains.
It is sometimes advisable to stir the soil between the
plants with a hoe or potato rake. It is common practice
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 21
to cultivate alternate middles at a time, and the cultivation
is discontinued when the plants are ready for topping.
Later cultivation tends to make the leaves speck, especially
when cultivation is deep.
Because of the large leaves and rapid growth under
shade, it is necessary to "tie up" plants in order to prevent
their falling down. When the plants are from 10 to 12
inches high, one end of a three-ply twine is looped around
the stalk near the ground, allowing ample room in the loop
for growth of the stem, and the other end is tied to a wire
or slat directly overhead. As the plant grows upward
wrap the twine around the stalk, passing the string between
The plants are topped just before the blossom buds begin
to open. The number of leaves removed with the flower
head should vary with weather conditions. If the plants are
topped too low, the leaves become heavy, coarse and harsh.
On the other hand, if the plants are topped too high, the
top leaves may remain small and produce a chaffy grade
Cigar Filler Tobacco: The methods used for transplant-
ing and cultivating this type of tobacco are similar to those
used for wrapper tobacco. The plants are spaced a little
farther apart in the row and are topped lower, and, as a
rule, the leaves are allowed to become a little riper before
harvesting. Since this type of tobacco is grown in the open,
the plants are not "tied up."
Bright Tobacco: Fresh beds are most desirable for trans-
planting bright tobacco, as is true with wrapper and filler.
However, if the land is too wet for plowing when the plants
are ready to set, it is better to set the plants without re-
working the beds than to allow the plants to grow too large
while waiting for the land to dry out.
Beds for bright tobacco are made in the same manner as
for wrapper and filler, except that they are usually made
larger, and higher. Great care should be exercised in
properly spacing the plants in the row. The plants should
be closer together on good land than on poor land. It is
customary to space the rows about four feet apart, with the
plants from 24 to 30 inches in the drill, which would be
equivalent to about 5,000 plants per acre.
The first cultivation is given about a week or ten days
after the plants are set and should be moderately shallow
and sufficiently far away from the plants not to disturb the
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
roots. The soil between the plants is loosened with a hoe
or potato digger, a little fresh earth being drawn around
each plant. Subsequent cul-
tivations are made about
once a week until the crop is
"laid by," a little earth be-
ing worked toward the
plants each time.
When the crop is laid by
the plants should be on a
.-- high ridge, in order to be
protected from water in-
jury during rainy weather.
As a rule, discontinue culti-
vation after the plants have
Topping is a very import-
ant operation with bright
tobacco, as it forces a great-
Ser size of leaf and improves
the quality. Soil fertility,
amount of fertilizer applied
and weather conditions are
the principal factors serving
t as guides in topping. It is
.often necessary to go over
the field two or more times
l to top properly. A greater
the numberr of leaves are left on
Fig. 4. "Priming" tobacco. The work- strong vigorous plants than
er strips off, beginning at the bottom, on weaker ones.
those two, three or four leaves that
have attained the proper degree of Full benefit will not be
ripeness. The next few leaves are
primed a few days later. derived from topping unless
suckers are broken out as
they develop in the axils of the upper leaves following top-
ping. Break them out before they get very large.
HARVESTING AND CURING
All types of tobacco grown in Florida are harvested by
the "priming" method; that is, the leaves are picked off,
three or four at a time, as they ripen, beginning with the
bottom ones. As a rule, three or four leaves are primed
from each plant once a week until all leaves have been
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
Cigar Wrapper and Filler Tobaccos: In priming the
workman removes leaves from the stalk with one hand,
stacks them on the other in a "pad" and passes the "pad"
to a boy who carries them to the boxes or litters at the end
of the rows.
Boxes are used for stacking the leaves in and for hauling
them to the barn, if the shade is close to the curing barn.
When the shade is a greater distance from the curing barn,
it is more convenient to stack the leaves on burlap-covered
litters and to haul them on a wagon. The boxes or litters
containing the leaves should be covered with burlap or
canvas and carried to the barn as quickly as possible.
When the leaves reach the barn they are strung in bead-
like fashion on a 10-ply twine by means of large needles.
The leaves are placed on the string, face-to-face and back-
to-back, which prevents their folding over and sticking to
each other during the curing process. Each end of the
string is fastened to a 52-inch lath and the laths, or sticks,
are then laid on the tier poles about four to six inches apart,
where they remain until they are cured. (See Fig. 6.)
In placing the sticks on the tier poles, one space about 12
inches wide should be left in the center of the hallway from
the bottom to top and throughout the length of the barn, as
well as a similar space on each side of the hall, to provide
free circulation of air among the tobacco.
After the tobacco is hung in the barn the ventilators
should be regulated in such a manner as to wilt the leaves
in from 36 to 48 hours. In order to accomplish this during
rainy weather, it is necessary to resort to the use of
charcoal fires. However, never start fires when there is
rain or dew on the leaves, as this will cause scalding or
staining. It is very essential that the curing process be
continued in an uninterrupted manner, but the leaves
should not be dried out too rapidly, as curing is a process of
gradual starvation and the principal changes must be
brought about before the leaf is killed.
No fixed rules can be given for curing tobacco properly,
as the manipulation of the ventilators is governed by wea-
ther conditions and the condition of the tobacco.
After the leaves are thoroughly cured the ventilators are
left open at night, in order that the leaves may come in
proper "case" so they can be taken down, tied in' hands,
packed in boxes and taken to the packing house. It is es-
24 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
sential that the leaves not be in too high case, as the color
will become too dark during the fermentation process.
Bright Tobacco: Ability to recognize ripe tobacco can
be acquired only through personal experience; inasmuch as
the proper stage of development of the leaves for priming
can be described only in general terms. Usually, ripe
leaves are thicker and their color is a lighter shade of
green, than that of immature ones. However, during dry
weather these changes may be almost unnoticeable, espe-
cially on the lower leaves.
Fig. 5. Burlap-covered drag sleds or trucks used for collecting the leaves of
bright tobacco. If the barn is close to the field, the sled may be dragged by
the mule right up to the stringers. If some distance, the drag sled may be
placed on a wagon and hauled up to the barn.
The signs of ripening should be more pronounced on the
upper leaves before they are ready to harvest. Best quality
is obtained when the leaves are primed as soon as they are
ripe enough to cure.
The leaves of bright tobacco are hauled from the field to
the barn in drag sledge or low-wheeled trucks, and are
strung as quickly as possible to avoid severe wilting. From
three to five leaves are looped into a hand and the hands
are placed alternately on each side of the stick. In plac-
ing the sticks in the barn, sufficient space should be left
between the sticks and around the walls to permit free cir-
culation of air.
The curing of bright tobacco is forced by heat from flues
and is accomplished in a much shorter time than cigar
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 25
wrapper tobacco is cured. However, anything which kills
the leaf prematurely, such as breaking or bruising in har-
vesting, or very rapid drying, prevents good curing.
When harvested the leaf contains a high percentage of
water and the rate of drying or losing this water has an im-
portant effect on the
cured product. Con-
sequently, the tem-
perature and humi-
dity must be regu-
lated very carefully
in order to control
the rate of drying.
The proper tem-
perature to be main-
tained inside the
barn will be influ-
enced by the tem-
perature and humi- lot r
dity of the outside
air. For example,
the temperature in-
side the barn must
be higher during
warm or rainy wea-
ther than during
cool or dry weather.
Air is also an im-
portant factor in
controlling the hu-
midity of the barn. -
Saturated air has no
drying capacity un-
til its temperature
is raised. During
the early stages of .
curing, while the Ad _
color is developing, Fig. 6. From three to five leaves are collected
high humidity is es- in a "hand" and then looped with a string along
sential; but when with many other hands, alternating sides, to a
SeI 1 but we W 1 stick which is hung in the barn for curing.
the tobacco is ready
to be dried out, humidity in the barn must be low. These
conditions are made possible by manipulating the ventila-
tors in such a manner that the humidity will be retained in
the barn during the early stages of curing and be allowed
F 'U 'A l
PI; &&Ka.; SfeJ|B e
Fig. 7. First of five Florida State Marketing Warehouses constructed by the WPA, with local aid, in 1936.
This first unit of the planned facilities at Live Oak is designed to handle farm products throughout the year,
but during tobacco marketing season supplements regular tobacco warehouses located there in providing space
for bright leaf auctions.
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
to escape from the barn as it is given off by the leaves
toward the end of the curing process.
Bright tobacco is easier to cure properly when the barn
is completely filled in one day and when the fire is started
in the furnace as soon as possible after the barn is filled.
A thermometer should be hung on the lower tier near the
center of the barn and the door. Shut all ventilators be-
fore starting the fire.
The temperature inside the barn should be raised slowly
and maintained at from 95 degrees to 100 degrees Fahren-
heit for the first 24 hours, gradually increasing it to 120
degrees by the end of 36 hours.
During this period the yellow color develops. This de-
sired color having developed, the next step is to "fix"
it. This is accomplished by opening the ventilators and
gradually raising the temperature 5 every two hours, to
about 135 or 1400 at the end of 48 hours after the fire was
started. The temperature should be held at this degree
until all parts of the leaf, except the stem (midribs), have
dried out. This usually occurs in three days after the fires
were started. The stems are then dried out by closing the
bottom ventilators and raising the temperature at the rate
of 5 degrees an hour until 170 has been reached. After
this temperature has been maintained for a few hours, the
top ventilators should be closed and the temperature kept
at 170 until the stems are completely dry.
After the tobacco has been cured the door and ventilators
should be left open at night so that it may absorb sufficient
moisture for handling without injury. Then remove from
the barn and store in a suitable place until the tobacco is
carried to market. When stored in proper condition the
quality of tobacco improves. The storage room should be
tight and dark, although it should have doors and windows
to provide ventilation when necessary. The floor should
be several feet above ground and should be covered with
straw and burlap or canvas before the tobacco is stacked
on it. The tobacco is stacked in piles or bulks without
removing the sticks and, when finished, the pile is covered
with burlap or canvas sheets. After about a week or ten
days tear down the bulk and rebuild in order to prevent
any injury from mold.
FERMENTING AND PACKING
Cigar wrapper tobacco is fermented or "sweated" by
stacking in bulks of from 4,000 to 6,000 pounds on plat-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
forms about four inches above the floor in rooms with a
temperature of from 75 to 85 Fahrenheit and with a rela-
tively high humidity. Each priming is kept separately
throughout the curing and fermenting processes and may
be baled separately after it has been assorted into the dif-
The bulk is begun by laying the outer row, one hand
overlapping the other, along the outer edge of the platform,
placing the butts of the hands even with the edge of the
platform and allowing the tips to point toward the center.
Other rows are laid in the same manner until the space in
the center is filled. The succeeding layers (rims) are
made in the same manner as the first, until the bulk reaches
the desired height. The bulk should then be covered with
burlap, canvas or heavy paper.
A thermometer is inserted in a perforated tin tube and is
placed in the center of the bulk with one end flush with the
edge of the bulk. When the temperature reaches 120
Fahrenheit the bulk should be torn down and rebuilt. If
the moisture content of the tobacco is not sufficiently high,
the temperature may not reach 120. In such case the
bulk should be turned after a week or ten days or when
the temperature begins to drop. When the bulk is rebuilt
the tobacco on the top and outer rows should be placed in
the center and that in the center placed in the outer rows.
The time required for the tobacco to ferment properly
varies with the nature of the leaf and percentage of mois-
ture it contains when first placed in the bulk. It is usually
necessary to turn the bulk from three to five times before
fermentation is completed. Fermentation is considered
finished when little rise in temperature occurs after the
tobacco has been rebulked, and when the leaves appear
iree of gum and harshness.
SORTING AND SELECTING
When the fermenting process is completed, the tobacco
leaves are too dry to be opened up for examination of color
and texture without breaking them. Therefore, they are
moistened lightly with a fine spray of water and packed
into boxes for from 12 to 24 hours to bring them in "case."
The strings are then cut and the loose leaves are placed on
tables and sorted into different grades for soundness and
From here more skilled laborers select the leaves for
different shades of color, making a total of from six to
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA .29
fifteen grades as each lot of tobacco necessitates. Leaves
of the same grade and length are then tied into "hands" of
about 30 leaves each and rebulked to undergo further fer-
mentation and drying out. The temperature of the bulk
usually does not rise as high as it did before the leaves
were graded, but it should be turned once or twice before
the tobacco is ready to pack into bales.
When the tobacco has dried out sufficiently it is pressed
into bales of about 180 pounds each. The dimensions of
the bales are about 32 x 32 x 12 inches. As far as practical
only one length of each grade is put into a bale. Each bale
is covered with heavy wax paper and then an East Indian
cane mat is sewed over this and the bale is then tied with a
rope. The best grades are finally covered with burlap and
placed in wooden boxes for shipment.
GRADING AND MARKETING BRIGHT TOBACCO
Grading: It is very essential that tobacco should be
thoroughly graded, according to color and texture, before
being placed on the market. If it is not properly graded
the purchaser naturally will buy according to the low side
of the grade. This is because the purchaser will have to
have the leaf regraded when shipped in to the plant, and
there pay labor costs higher than the Florida grower would
pay in having it graded on his farm.
In normal seasons tobacco should be graded in at least
three grades-first, second and third-to each barn. In
addition, green leaves from all barns should be graded into
another separate pile.
Never place a leaf of tobacco into a grade that will pull
the grade down. Always place the leaf into a pile where
it will build up the grade. In other words, if you have a
leaf of tobacco that is not quite good enough for the first
grade if it is put in that grade it will pull down the grade.
But, if this leaf is placed in the second grade it will build
up the second grade so there will not be much difference in
the marketing price of the two grades. If this method is
following throughout the crop growers always will receive
more money for their tobacco.
Marketing: Tobacco should be marketed for best re-
sults in at least three selling. The first week of the
market opening a grower should market nothing but first
and second primings. For the second and third weeks he
should market his best tobacco-leaf or stalk tobacco.
Tips should be marketed the fourth, or last, week. The
,, r ,^ -t ;j; j. -J W 1 ^
i "' C'; fl *l . . " .. . '- ,-'0crs ,.'
*i'44b ....... .-- ..z. ,
.. .. . . 'N -, .
5. t-.,. r1 ..... .
K y '- ^ ';-. --H - ^""^!s .~a
..,,,,,,-,' i "3 ...* ,,"". ..+. ,,, 'i- ***..,. -. ..: y ..* .. -, ;,
--... -^ ...^ .,
,. '. * 'b, ''.. .. ." ,'.r
*'+ .-, . :.*. ", c ^" ,* A ^ ".' "'..' "-.. t -" ^ 1
...- .' .. ." .A ab.- t
.,. ., .v .,. .,. 3
Fig. 8. View of about a fourth of floor space of warehouse with capacity of over 300,0000 pounds of flue-cured tobacco on
Florida market at Live Oak. Baskets are marked with poundage and name of owner prior to beginning of auction.
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 31
longer the tips, or this type of tobacco, stay packed up in
the pack house the more they improve, thus bringing a
better price by marketing later.
SELECTING TOBACCO SEED
The importance of producing uniform crops of a good
quality of cigar wrapper tobacco has been emphasized in
preceding pages. It was also pointed out above that soil,
fertilizers and cultural methods affect the quality of to-
bacco to a marked degree. When introduced into new
localities with different climatic and soil conditions, uni-
form types of tobacco frequently break up into a number of
different types. Some of these types may be desirable,
while others may be very undesirable.
Once different types have appeared in a field, continued
and even wider variations will occur, unless great care is
exercised in the selection of seed plants. Tobacco normally
is self-pollinated, but certain insects and humming birds
produce some crossing. The desirable type of plant should
be sought before the flowers develop and marked conspicu-
ously so they can be detected in the topping operation.
Under new cloth shades which exclude humming birds
and the larger insects, there is little danger of cross-pollina-
tion. However, when the crop is grown under slat shade
or in the open, the flowers of the seed plants should be
bagged to exclude the insects. Twelve-pound manila
paper bags are convenient for tying over the flower heads.
The bags may be perforated with a needle to permit circu-
lation of air. On account of the rapid growth of the plants
it is necessary to untie the string and raise the bag on the
stalk every three or four days for the first two weeks after
bagging. The dead flower should also be removed. Ex-
cept during very rainy weather the bags should be left on
until the seed are harvested and ready to be cleaned.
After the seed pods have dried the seed should be
threshed and cleaned. Run the seed through a cleaning
machine in order to eliminate the light ones. Heavy seed
produce more vigorous plants which show greater uni-
formity in the field and packing house than plants pro-
duced from light seed.
If the grower is not prepared to select and clean his own
seed, he should procure them from a reliable source.
32 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
CONSTRUCTION OF TOBACCO SHADES
Shade for tobacco fields consists of a wire frame sup-
ported by posts to which the shade material is attached.
There are three types of shades in use in Florida-lath or
slat shade, cloth shade, and a combination of cloth and slat.
Cloth walls are usually put up around shades of all three
types to protect the tobacco from winds and insects. Al-
though the initial cost of constructing a cloth shade is less,
the cloth can only be used overhead one or two years. Con-
sequently, cloth is more expensive, except where tobacco is
grown on the same land for only one or two years. Fur-
thermore, the slat and combination shades produce a better
quality of tobacco, especially during dry years.
Cloth used for shades is made especially for the purpose,
and consists of relatively coarse, loosely woven threads.
It is reinforced at intervals with crossbars of closer mesh.
It is woven in strips three feet wide and these strips are
sewed together at the factory to make any multiple-of-
three Width desired. The laths used are about 1A inch
thick, about 11/2 inches wide and 48 or 52 inches long.
They should be of heart pine or cypress.
The posts are set at the desired distance apart and each
post in the outside row is anchored by means of a No. 4.
wire attached to a block of wood buried in the ground eight
feet from the post.
No. 4 wire is stretched over the tops of the posts in one
direction and No. 8 and No. 12 wires are stretched in the
opposite direction at intervals of 2 feet. They alternate,
so the ends. of the slats will rest on the No. 8 wires and the
middle of the slats on the No. 12 wires.
No. 6 wires are stretched around the outside posts at the
top and bottom for attaching the cloth walls. The ends of
the slats are fastened to the No. 8 wires by wrapping with
flexible No. 22 wire. The slats are spaced from three to
six inches apart, the wider space being used when cloth is
used in combination with slats.
When cloth is used alone, fewer posts and a smaller
amount of wire are required. The cloth is stretched under-
neath the main wire frame and is supported by stretching
No. 12 wire underneath it immediately above the rows of
tobacco. This wire is fastened at the ends and clipped to
the main wires above with rings. This wire also serves for
attaching the twine in tying up the plants.
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
CURING BARNS, for-
Cigar Wrapper and Filler Tobaccos: The same manner
of curing and the same kind of curing barn are used for
cigar wrapper and filler tobaccos. The size of the barn is
determined by the number of acres to be cured, where
fewer than five acres are grown.
The most common size of curing barn is 120 feet long, 40
feet wide and 20 feet high at the eaves. This size is con-
sidered adequate to cure the crop from five acres of land.
The walls of the curing barn are made of close-fitting
siding and are provided with adjustable ventilators. One
kind of ventilation system consists of windows 31/2x12 feet,
hinged at the top in a vertical position so they will swing out
at the bottom. The other kind consists of boards about 8
inches wide and 10 or 12 feet long, hinged at the top edge
and extending horizontally. These boards are spaced ver-
tically about three feet apart and are attached to a strip
so all boards of one section may be opened or closed with
A wide door is provided at each end of the barn and a
hallway extends through the center. Tier poles are spaced
about four feet apart in a horizontal direction and from 24
to 30 inches vertically, beginning about six feet from the
ground and extending to about six feet from the peak of
Bright Tobacco: Small barns of comparatively simple
construction are used for curing bright tobacco. Inside
measurements vary from 16x16 to 20x20 feet. The tier
poles are placed about four feet apart across the barn and
the first set is placed about six feet above ground with each
succeeding set two and a half or three feet higher. (See
The barns are built usually of logs. Cracks in log build-
ings should be chinked with mud or mortar. The walls of
frame buildings are best made of a double thickness of
boards and the cracks should be battened. Ventilators
are made around the walls near the ground and in the
gables near the roof.
The heating system consists of one or two small furnaces
placed at one end of the barn and sheet iron flues leading
from the furnaces around the interior of the barn and back
through the wall above the furnace door. The furnaces
are made of brick and are about 18 inches wide and from
20 to 24 inches high inside. The length of the furnace is
34 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
half the length of the barn with from 18 to 24 inches of it
projecting outside the wall of the barn.
The'flue is made in sections similar to stove pipe. One
end is fitted into the furnace and the flue is passed around
the inside of the barn about a foot from the walls and
gradually elevated so that it passes out through the wall
about two feet above the door of the furnace. A smoke
stack is fitted to the outer end of the flue and made of suf-
ficient length to insure good draft. The top end of the flue
is provided with a hood.
It is very important that the flues (parallel, one on each
side) leading to the draft or smoke stack be level one with
the other, so as to assure uniform heating.
Fig. 9. A cheap but substantial bright tobacco curing barn. This one is made
of logs. Many barns of this type are to be found in the bright tobacco belt.
Ncte the ends of the logs extending from the interior; these are the tier poles
upon which are rested the ends of the sticks holding the hands of tobacco.
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
COST OF PRODUCTION, of-
Cigar Wrapper Tobacco is grown intensively as a cash
crop and has a high value per acre. The cost of producing
it varies on different farms in any one season, and on the
same farm from year to year. The cost per pound is the
important item and determines whether the grower will
show a profit or loss, as the tobacco is sold by the pound.
Therefore, the cost per pound is determined, not only by
the cost of shade materials, fertilizers and labor, but also
by the yields per acre.
The present cost of a curing barn of standard size (120
x 40 x 20 feet) is approximately $2,000. Slat shades, in-
cluding the labor for construction, cost about $500 per
acre. A slat shade, properly constructed, usually lasts
from five to ten years, and when the cost is prorated over
this number of crops the cost per crop is not so great. The
cost of cloth shades is relatively higher as the cost is usually
charged against only one crop of tobacco. However, when
handled carefully and with favorable conditions, the cloth
may be used overhead for two years although it is usually
used the second year for walls.
The cost of fertilizer for shade tobacco is a big item of
the total cost of production. Although the cost of com-
mercial fertilizer varies somewhat from year to year, the
cost of stable manure remains fairly constant and the aver-
age cost of both materials may be placed at about $135
The cost of labor for producing shade tobacco is also
great, especially at certain seasons of the year. The entire
cost of labor for cultivation, harvesting and curing is esti-
mated at $200 per acre.
Thus the average cost per acre for producing cigar wrap-
per tobacco under cloth shade on the larger farms has been
estimated as follows:
Shade materials and labor for construction. .$225
Fertilizers ........................... 135
Labor ................................ 200
Insect poisons, tools, twine, charcoal, etc.. 50
Total ............................. $610
Production costs on smaller farms may be considerably
below this figure, especially when the stable manure is pro-
duced on the farm and when little or none of the labor is
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
hired. No estimate of the cost of production can be ob-
tained from these farms, as very few of their operators
keep records. The yield of tobacco under shade varies
from 800 to 1,500 pounds per acre, and the best quality is
usually associated with the highest yield. The price ob-
tained for the cured tobacco varies from 50 to 90 cents per
pound, depending upon the market and quality of the
From the figures above one may gain some idea of the
income to be derived from growing tobacco. To the costs
given must be added investment in land and equipment, in-
terest on investment, depreciation of houses and other
Cigar Filler and Bright Tobaccos: Cigar filler is usually
grown under contract and the contract price is from 18 to
20 cents per pound. It is difficult to obtain accurate in-
formation on the cost of production, as this type of tobacco
is grown on a small acre basis by many farmers who do not
hire labor. When properly fertilized, filler tobacco will
produce from 1,000 to 1,600 pounds per acre and with this
yield the cost of production is approximately 16 and 12
cents per pound, respectively.
Cost per acre of bright leaf production depends on the
amount of hired labor used, as well as on the poundage of
fertilizer used. It is generally known, however, that a
crop of tobacco under fertilized will make more dollars and
cents than will one that has been over fertilized.
The following table gives a fair average of the cost per
acre in the Suwannee Valley section of Florida, where
principally home labor is used:
Fertilizer (1,000 lbs.) ............... .$14.50
Poisons, twine ....................... 4.50
Wood (for curing), etc .............. 5.00
Labor costs, from time of laying out seed beds through
the grading and marketing period, will run 6c to 612c
per pound of tobacco produced. As average production is
800 pounds, hired labor costs thus will run from $48.00 to
$52.00 per acre.
In order for the bright tobacco grower to make money,
at least three things are necessary:
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 37
First, production costs must be kept to the absolute
minimum. It should be produced by the farmer with his
own farm labor insofar as possible.
Second, the quality of the product must be improved.
This the farmer knows how to do and he must do it. If he
does not know how, he can easily learn from his county
agent or from any one of several other sources of reliable
information. In a competitive business the finest and best
Third, acreage and production must be kept down. Sup-
ply and demand determine prices. Of course, it is impos-
sible for the average farmer to know in advance how much
tobacco will be planted. However, this is all the more
reason why he should "keep his ear to the ground." Let
him make a study of the situation, the same as the banker
before he lends money. Of course, the government should
help him in this, but that fact does not mean he should not
attempt to help himself.
In order to present other than his own views on this per-
plexing problem, the author has asked a leading authority
on tobacco production for a statement along these lines.
"Foreign competition is a factor which is having a re-
tarding effect on the price of tobacco grown in the United
States. This also makes it necessary for the growers in this
country to produce a better quality of leaf. During the
last decade some of the large tobacco companies have been
experimenting with the production of flue-cured tobacco in
South Africa and South America, and to a less extent in
other countries. On account of climatic and soil conditions
and cheap labor, tobacco can be produced much cheaper in
those countries than in the United States. Methods of grow-
ing and curing the crop have been developed to the stage
where a considerable quantity of good quality tobacco has
been placed on the foreign market during the last few
years and the amount is increasing from year to year.
"With the continued increase in production of tobacco
by foreign countries, it is apparent that there must be a
decrease in production in the United States, if the crop is
to be grown at a profit. This factor should be taken into
consideration by prospective growers,"
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The tobacco plant is attacked by several diseases, some
of which may become serious when tobacco is grown on the
same land for several years in succession. The diseases of
greatest importance are black shank, root-knot, wildfire,
frog-eye, brown leaf-spot and blue-mold.
Black Shank is caused by a fungous parasite (Phytoph-
thora nicotianae Breda de Haan) which lives over in the
soil and may persist there for years, even after the culture
of tobacco has been discontinued on the land. This disease
attacks the roots and lower part of the stalks and kills the
plants in a very short time. This disease is seldom found
in bright or flue-cured tobacco.
Signs of the disease do not appear in the field until the
temperature of the soil warms up-usually not before the
middle of April. Plants attacked by black shank wilt sud-
denly and the most susceptible varieties never recover from
the wilt but, instead, the leaves dry out and turn brown
within a few days.
The parasite may be carried from field to field by surface
flood water, wind-blown dust, tools or any agency to which
infested earth might adhere.
Fig. 10. Root-knot of bright or flue-cured tobacco, a limiting factor in the
production of this crop. The swellings on the roots are the result of the
"boring" into soft root tissues of the eel-like nematodes. (Photo by courtesy
of Florida Experiment Station.)
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
No practical method has been found for controlling black
shank, except by the use of resistant varieties. Several
resistant strains or varieties of cigar wrapper tobacco
which grow successfully on infested soil have been de-
veloped by the Tobacco Experiment Station located at
Quincy. Dr. W. B. Tisdale, plant pathologist of the Flori-
da Experiment Station, was for several years in direct
charge of work at the tobacco station and is entitled to the
credit for producing most of those resistant strains.
Root-Knot is a serious disease of tobacco under certain
conditions, as well as many other truck and field crops
grown in the southern states. This disease is caused by a
small eel-like worm or nematode (Heterodera radicicola),
a relative of the hookworm, which attacks the small root-
lets and causes knots or galls to develop on them. Attack-
ed plants become stunted and wilt badly during the middle
of the day and recover at night. When the infection is
severe, the plants are worthless or may die.
The only known method for controlling root-knot of to-
bacco is to adopt a system of crop rotation whereby suscep-
tible crops will not be
~grown on the land for a
.: period of two or three years
preceding tobacco. In the
: case of sweet potatoes, chu-
fas and common briar roots,
all most susceptible to root-
:.' ^ knot, this period should be
:, from five to ten years.
Fig. 11. Wildfire on a leaf of cigar
wrapper tobacco. Note the yellow halo
around the central dead area of each
spot. (Photo by courtesy of Florida
Clean cultivation should
be practiced with these
crops when possible in or-
der to keep down weeds,
many of which are suscep-
tible to root-knot. Also, to-
bacco should be transplant-
ed as early as possible so a
root system will have be-
come established before the
soil is warm enough for the
nematodes to become active.
Wildfire is a leaf-spot dis-
ease caused by a germ or
bacterial parasite (Bacteri-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
um tabacum). This parasite does not live very long in the
soil but is carried over from one year to the next on tobacco
seed, posts, boards and cloth used in constructing beds, and
on old tobacco stalks left standing on the beds. The or-
ganism does not survive in the field from one year to an-
other where the tobacco stalks are cut and turned under
after the crop is harvested.
This disease may be distinguished from other leaf-spots
by the presence of a yellow ring or halo around the dead
brown portion of the spot. The disease occurs in the seed-
bed and may spread rapidly and stunt or kill many of the
plants before they reach the size for transplanting. On
the other hand, the disease may be so slight as to escape
notice in the plant bed and develop rapidly after the plants
are set in the field. When weather conditions are favor-
able for its development, wildfire may cause a total loss of
Control of wildfire is fairly simple, if certain precau-
tions are taken. These are:
1. Make the seedbed on new land each year, unless the
land is thoroughly "burned" or sterilized with steam. All
posts and boards or logs used around an old bed should be
sterilized or new ones used. Use new cloth or sterilize old
cloth with formaldehyde solution (1 to 100) or steam.
2. If the seed came from an infected field or from a
doubtful source, they should be treated with corrosive
sublimate solution (1 to 1000) for 15 minutes, washed in
clear water and dried in the shade before planting.
3. Never carry tobacco trash from the barns into the
If healthy plants are transplanted, there will be no trou-
ble from wildfire in the field. Wildfire can not be suc-
cessfully controlled in the field by spraying or dusting.
Hence it is important that the disease be kept out of the
Frog-Eye is a leaf-spot disease which is of greatest im-
portance in cigar wrapper tobacco. The disease occurs on
bright tobacco but because of the form in which most of
this tobacco is used the spots are not so objectionable.
However, do not grade out for wrapper use bright tobacco
Frog-eye does not attack vigorous growing plants. How-
ever, when the growth is checked by improper cultural
methods (such as deep plowing), root-knot or wet soil, the
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
disease usually appears and may cause serious damage in a
The spots are characterized by a dark colored border
and grayish-white center. Black specks occur in the gray
center which are the spores of the fungus (Cercospora
nicotianae) which causes the trouble.
The only practical method of controlling frog-eye is to
practice proper cultural methods and to prime the leaves as
soon as they are ripe.
Brown Spot is a fungous disease (caused by Alternaria
longipes) which is most important on bright tobacco. Usu-
ally it does not attack the leaves until they are ripe or
except when the growth is checked prematurely by im-
proper cultural methods, root-knot or unfavorable weather
conditions late in the season.
Fig. 12. Tobacco seed bed showing bare spots in foreground caused by
downy mildew (Blue Mold).
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The reason that the disease is most serious on bright
tobacco is perhaps because the leaves are left on the stalk
until they are quite ripe or over ripe.
The disease is more serious in fields or portions of fields
infested with root-knot. Under such conditions it may
cause the leaves to dry out and turn brown within one or
two weeks. Thus brown spot appears to be of secondary
nature. The spots on the leaves are distinctly brown, more
or less irregular in shape and may be marked by concentric
The known methods of control are systems of rotation
which will reduce root-knot infestation to a minimum, cul-
tivating properly and harvesting the leaves as soon as they
Downy Mildew, so called Blue Mold, is a fungous disease
caused by Peronospora tabacina). This disease has been
rather spasmodic in its oc-
currence, and thus far has
not been extremely serious
in Florida and particularly
in the cigar wrapper areas.
It is favored by low tem-
perature followed by mod-
erately warm, humid wea- /
their, but disappears when ., / I
hot weather arrives. Under --; '.-.
favorable conditions very
small plants may be killed -.
by this fungus and larger .
plants may be completely f i
ever, will recover. No defi- "., i .'
nite control measures have S'
been fully worked out.
The disease is character-
ized at first by indefinite Fig. 13. Tobacco leaf showing mild
yellow blotches on the spotting caused by downy mildew
leaves, on the under side of (Blue Mold).
which is found a growth of cottony fungus whitish or pale
violet in color. On the upper surface of the -leaf brown
fleck-like lesions appear, which soon coalesce and form
large irregular dead areas.
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 43
Certain insects of tobacco are always present in the state
and, unless combatted, almost invariably destroy the com-
mercial value of the crop. The most important insect pests
are budworms, hornworms, flea-beetles, cutworms, grass-
hoppers and pumpkin bugs. The severity of attacks by
these insects may vary from year to year, but budworms
and hornworms occur in destructive numbers every year.
Insects are always more numerous during the latter part
of the growing season, and unless control measures are em-
ployed, the damage is quite serious from them, especially
with cigar wrapper tobacco. All of these insects can be
materially reduced in numbers by cutting and turning
under the stalks of tobacco immediately after the crop is
Budworms usually begin to appear on the plants in small
numbers within ten days or two weeks after the plants are
set in the field and, unless controlled, will increase in num-
bers throughout the season. The eggs are laid by a green-
ish-colored moth on the upper leaves. When they hatch
the young worms migrate to the buds. By feeding on the
young bud-leaves this worm causes the greatest possible
Budworms can be completely controlled by keeping a
mixture of coarse dry sand and arsenate of lead in the buds.
If the tobacco is growing rapidly, it is necessary to make at
least one application a week of the poisoned bait to bright
and filler tobaccos and two to cigar wrapper. Only a very
small portion of this mixture is necessary, the amount that
can be picked up between the thumb and index finger.
This bait is made by mixing thoroughly 1 pound of arsenate
of lead with 5 pounds of sand.
Hornworms are most troublesome during the latter part
of the growing season. Each hornworm may consume
several large leaves between the time the egg hatches and
when the worm climbs down the plant and goes into its
pupa stage in the ground.
Hornworms are fairly easily controlled immediately
after the eggs hatch, but after they attain considerable
size it is difficult to apply a sufficient amount of poison to
kill them without injury to the tobacco.
Paris green is the most satisfactory poison for controlling
this pest on cigar wrapper tobacco, because the color of the
material is not conspicuous on the cured leaves. It is ap-
44 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
plied at the rate of from 3/4 to 2 pounds per acre twice a
week after the worms begin to appear. The lighter ap-
plications are made during the latter part of the growing
Arsenate of lead spray (one pound of arsenate of lead
to 12 gallons of water) is considered best for controlling
the hornworm on bright tobacco because it is cheaper than
Paris green. There is no serious objection to small amounts
of this white material on the cured leaves.
The Flea-Beetle occurs every year in the northern part
of the state and, under conditions favorable to it, causes
serious damage to cigar wrapper tobacco, if control meas-
ures are neglected. The injury to other types of tobacco
is much less serious. This insect may attack the plants in
the seedbeds and be carried to the field in the soil adhering
to the plant roots. It may also come from outside sources
and attack the plants in the field.
The flea-beetle can not be successfully controlled by any
one method. The methods recommended are: 1. Locate
the plant bed some distance from tobacco fields. 2. Cover
the plant bed with cloth and, if flea-beetles appear on the
plants, dust them frequently with light applications of
arsenate of lead when the leaves are dry. 3. Destroy
weeds in and around the tobacco fields. 4. Cut and turn
under tobacco stalks immediately after the crop is harvest-
ed. 5. If tobacco is attacked in the field, use frequent
light applications of Paris green.
Cutworms, Grasshoppers, Pumpkin Bugs: When any of
these appear it is generally when the plants are about a
third matured. It is very necessary to watch the crop
closely, and to dust or spray (for grasshoppers or pumpkin
bugs spray usually is essential) with some form of insecti-
cide to destroy the pests. Commonly used is arsenate of
lead, with a very small percentage of Paris green added
when used in spray form. Every grower should be sure, as
soon as he sets his plants, to destroy the plant bed. This
will keep down infestation by insects.
Frequent reference in writing this bulletin has been
made to Bulletins 166 and 198, entitled respectively "To-
bacco Diseases in Gadsden County in 1922" and "Tobacco
Culture in Florida," of the Florida Experiment Station.
The author of both of those bulletins, Dr. W. B. Tisdale,
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 45
plant pathologist, has offered many very valuable sugges-
tions in the preparation of this one and has read the
The author of the revision credits J. C. Hill of Live Oak
for technical advice.
Persons interested in making a further study of tobacco
as it is grown in Florida would do well to secure these
reference bulletins. This they may do by addressing the
Florida Experiment Station, Gainesville, Florida.