Revised. See no. 40
Bulletin No. 40
State of Florida
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
T. J. APPLEYARD, INC., TALLAHASSEE, FLORIOA
F j LIBRARY
_________ axERI.M4frr -..
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Nathan Mayo, Commissioner of Agriculture .................Tallahassee
T. J. Brooks, Assistant Commissioner .......................................Tallahassee
Phil S. Taylor, Supervising Inspector ....................................Tallahassee
Introduction and History ............................. 5
Soils for: ....................... ..... ............ 6
Cigar W rapper Tobacco .......................... 7
Filler Tobacco ................. ................. 7
Bright or Flue-Cured Tobacco. .................... 7
Preparation and Care of Plant Beds ..................... 7
Fertilizing the Plant Bed .............................. 9
Preparing the Land for: ............................... 10
Cigar Wrapper and Filler Tobacco ............... 10
Bright Tobacco .................. .............. 11
F ertilizers for: ....................................... 11
Cigar W rapper Tobacco ................. . . .... 11
Cigar Filler Tobacco ..... ..................... 12
Bright Tobacco ................................. 12
Transplanting and Cultivating ......................... 13
Cigar W rapper Tobacco ..................... . 13
Cigar Filler Tobacco ............................. 15
Bright Tobacco ................................. 15
Harvesting and Curing ................................ 16
Cigar Wrapper and Filler Tobaccos ............... 16
Bright Tobacco .............. .. .......... ... 18
Fermenting and Packing ............. ................ 21
Sorting and Selecting ................................ 23
Selecting Tobacco Seed ............................... 24
Construction of Tobacco Shades .................... .... 24
Curing Barns for: .................................... 27
Cigar Wrapper and Filler Tobaccos .............. 27
Bright Tobacco ................................. 29
Cost of Production of: ................................ 29
Cigar Wrapper Tobacco ......................... 29
Cigar Filler and Bright Tobaccos ................. 32
D diseases ..................... .................. .. 34
Black Shank ........... ..................... 35
R oot-K not ................................... 36
Wildfire .. ......... ........ ............. 36
Frog-eye ....................... ............... 37
Brown Spot .......... ........... .............. 37
Insect Enemies .................................. ... 39
Budworms ............ .. .. ............... 39
H ornworm s .................................... 39
Flea-Beetle ............ ..................... 40
Acknowledgments .............. ..................... 40
Tobacco Growing in Florida
By Ralph Stoutamire
TOBACCO is linked with nearly every phase of American
life and industry. Its phenomenal increase in consumption
during the last decade is perhaps unequalled by any other
agricultural product. This,, despite the fights that have been
waged upon it by individuals and societies created for that ex-
press purpose. Loved and hated, cherished and despised, it
goes merely 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. Following this improvement in
quality, which was attended by an increased demand for the
tobacco, there was a rapid expansion 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. Dur-
ing 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. 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 introduced
into the northern part of the state in 1924. Since that year the
acreage has increased considerably and the crop has been grown
successfully on certain types of soil as far south as the central
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
part of the peninsula. The yield per acre and price obtained
on the markets for this type of tobacco produced in the state
compare favorably with the crop produced in Georgia and the
Carolinas. In 1929 there were about 8,000 acres of bright
tobacco grown in Florida. The total acreage of all types for
that year was estimated by the federal Bureau of Agricultural
Economics at 12,300 acres with a value of about $3,500,000.
Fig. 1. Healthy Tobacco-Connecticut Round Tip-growing under cloth shade.
(Courtesy of Florida Experiment Station.)
Tobacco is a staple crop and fits well into the general farming
system in localities adapted to its culture. It will grow in
almost any part of the state, but only certain types of soil will
produce the qaulities of leaf demanded 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 approaches
maturity. During the early years of tobacco culture in the state,
the crop was grown exclusively on virgin hammock land. The
ashes obtained by burning the hardwood 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
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 7
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 successfully at
present on the well-drained lighter series of soils: Norfolk sandy
loam, Norfolk fine sandy loam and Orangeburg sand. With
-,proper fertilization and culture these soils produce a wrapper
leaf of fine texture, light in color 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 tracts.
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. Norfolk sandy loam,
Orangeburg sand and Orangeburg sandy loam soils, when prop-
erly fertilized, usually produce the largest yields of the desired
Bright or Flue-Cured Tobacco: The type of soil is also a very
important factor in the production of a satisfactory quality of
cigarette or flue-cured tobacco. The character of the soil in-
fluences the color of the leaf as well as the other important qual-
ities, as texture, richness and weight. Color is a very important
character of cigarette tobacco, a bright yellow being the pre-
ferred shade. Ordinarily this bright color can not be produced
on the heavier soils, and the leaf is usually heavy and coarse.
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 re-
sponsive 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. Therefore, it is necessary to exercise great care in the
selection of the soil for cigarette tobacco, if the greatest returns
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 transplanting.
The size of this bed is determined by the type of tobacco and
the number of acres of field to be planted. The customary rule
for cigar wrapper is to plant 100 square yards of bed for each
8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 produce sufficient plants for two acres.
However, favorable conditions do not always prevail and it is
important to have an ample supply of uniform and vigorous
plants at the proper time. Better to have too many than not
*ig. 2. Young tobacco plants being produced under a cloth shed. Note the ove
head irrigation system. (Courtesy Florida Experiment Station.)
Most farmers locate plant beds on new, well-drained ham-
mock 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 parasitic fungi
which may be present in the surface soil. The brush and tim-
ber 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 burned.
The land is then raked free of trash and broken shallow in
order to leave the fertile soil near the surface. The roots and
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 9
trash are then removed and the soil should be reworked until it
is brought into a fine tilth.
FERTILIZING THE PLANT BED
The plant bed must be very fertile in order to produce uni-
form 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 j.munj, per square yard and worked
into the soil with a disc harrow, small plow or potato rake, de-
pending upon the size of the bed. As a rule, beds for cigarette
tobacco are not fertilized as heavily as those for cigar wrapper
A good plant bed fertilizer can be made by mixing 2 pounds
of a fertilizer analyzing 3 percent ammonia, 8 percent phos-
phoric 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 per-
cent potash is also very good, when a sufficient 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 pul-
verize with iron tooth rakes. One tablespoonful 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 pref-
erably about six feet high, so the bed can be more easily in-
spected. Ditches should be opened up around the bed to in-
sure drainage and to prevent water from flowing in frbm the
Cigar wrapper plants are also grown in permanent irrigated
beds. Individual farmers and companies who grow large acre-
ages of tobacco can grow plants more successfully on this kind
of bed. Permanent irrigated beds are usually located on up-
land or near the pumping stations in easy access to the steam
and water supply. When located in the open the beds are en-
closed with board walls and have a wire frame stretched over-
head about six or seven feet high. The overhead sprinkler type
of irrigation is used in that case.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 fer-
tilizer 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 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 in-
jured 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 transplanted.
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
Do not plant crops susceptible to root-knot on the land pre-
Good results have been obtained by planting oats or rye and
vetch early in fall and turning them under by the first of Feb-
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 11
ruary. 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 trans-
plant. Whatever method of preparation is used in fall, the land
should be broken again in spring.
Bright Tobacco: Although vegetable matter in an advanced
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 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 tobacco has been produced
on land following a two- or three-year rotation of corn, bunch
velvet beans, Brabham cowpeas and peanuts.
In any event, ho crop which is susceptible to root-knot should
be grown on the 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.
Cigar Wrapper Tobacco: So far as known, there is no
"best" shade tobacco fertilizer or "best" formula for all sea-
sons for even the same field. Differences in weather and soil
conditions are in part responsible for the variable results ob-
tained. 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 matter,
nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash for the successful produc-
tion of cigar wrapper tobacco.
Stable manure, leguminous crops, as velvet beans and Brab-
ham cowpeas, and oats and rye are good sources of organic mat-
ter. 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 matter should be turned under during the fall
or early winter so it will be decomposed by the time the plants
are set in spring.
In order to obtain rapid and uninterrupted growth of cigar
wrapper tobacco, both essential to produce the best quality of
12 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
leaf, it is necessary to make heavy applications of commercial
fertilizer in addition to stable manure. The usual amount ap-
plied 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 potash, 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 car-
bonate 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
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 fertilizer
are required to grow a large yield of good quality filler leaf than
are required for wrapper. Although many growers use lighter
applications, experience of older growers 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 per-
cent phosphoric 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 some-
what divergent. Certain ones believe that sulphate of potash
is as good as carbonate; others condemn it. Although both
forms have produced good quality of leaf, there may be an ad-
vantage in changing the form of potash where the land is crop-
ped to tobacco continuously. Muriate of potash or kainit are
not to be recommended, because the chlorine which they contain
injures the burning quality of the leaf.
Bright Tobacco: If the land has not been built up as sug-
gested 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 transplanting so it will
have time to decompose. Apply commercial 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 determined
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
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 excess of fertilizer is
to be avoided, if a satisfactory yield and quality is to be pro-
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 potash.
The customary rate of applying fertilizer of the above analysis
is from 1,000 to 1,400 pounds to the acre, the larger amount
being used on the lighter soils. It has been demonstrated that
heavier applications are more profitable on certain soils, when
the tobacco can be trans-
_4 planted early and given proper
S. The source of plant nutri-
ents is also very important for
bright tobacco. For average
,/ conditions half of the ammonia
should be derived from inor-
ganic sources and the other
*-._ half from organic. The inor-
Fig. 3. Simple Implement for nmark- ganic portion should come in
ing or indicating place for each cigar equal parts from nitrate of
wrapper tobacco plant in the row. soda and sulphate of am-
Note the pegs on the circumference of monia and the organic portion
the wheel. (Photo by courtesy of Flor- pri
ida Experiment Station.) from cottonseed meal and
tankage. 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. During a wet season it is better to set the
plants a little above the level.
The location of the plants is marked by running a marker,
with projections attached at the desired intervals (from 10 to
14 inches), down the center of the row. The plants are drop-
ped 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
14 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
of the soil, but it is always advisable to water cigar wrapper
tobacco, as a uniform start is very important. (See figure 3.)
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, un-
less the weather is dry and windy. In this case it is advisable
to plow more earth to the bed to prevent rapid drying 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 cultivation should be as shallow as possible, unless
the soil becomes 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 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.
Fig. 4. "Tying up" tobacco. In this case the women are looping one end of the
twine around the bases of the stalks and the men are tying the other end to the
slats or wires above. This supports the stalks against the heavy weight of the
leaves. (Courtesy of Florida Experiment Station.)
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,
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
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 leaves. (See figure 4.)
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 of tobacco.
Cigar Filler Tobacco: The methods used for transplanting
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
Bright Tobacco: Fresh beds are most desirable for trans-
planting bright tobacco, as is true with wrapper and filler. How-
ever, if the land is too wet for plowing when the plants are
ready to set, it is better to set the plants without reworking 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 20 to 26 inches apart
in the row.
The first cultivation is given about a week or ten days after
the plants are set and should be moderately shallow and suffi-
ciently far away from the plants not to disturb the roots. The
soil between the plants is loosened t% ii a hoe or potato digger,
a little fresh earth being drawn around each plant. Subse-
quent cultivations are made about once a week until the crop is
"laid by," a little earth being worked toward the plants each
When the crop is laid by the plants should be on a high ridge,
in order to be protected from water injury during rainy
weather. As a rule, discontinue cultivation after the plants
have been topped.
Topping is a very important operation with bright tobacco, as
it forces a greater size of leaf and improves the quality. Soil
fertility, amount of fertilizer applied and weather conditions are
the principal factors serving as guides in topping. It is often
16 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
necessary to go over the field two or more times to top properly.
A greater number of leaves are left on strong vigorous plants
than on weaker ones.
Full benefit will not be derived from topping unless suckers
are broken out as they develop in the axils of the upper leaves
following topping. 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 removed.
Cigar Wrapper and Filler Tobaccos: In priming the work-
man 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
t ;them to the boxes or litters
at the end of the rows.
Boxes are used for stack-
ing the leaves in and for
hauling them to the barn, if
A the shade is close to the
^ iB-j curing barn. When the
shade is a greater distance
from the curing barn, it is
\ ,more convenient to stack the
S leaves on burlap-covered lit-
ters 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
Fig. 5. "Priming" tobacco. The work- placed on the string, face-
er strips off, beginning at the bottom, to-face a n d back-to-back,
those two, three or four leaves that which prevents their folding
have attained the proper degree of ripe-
ness. The next few leaves are primed over and sticking to each
a few days later. other during the curing pro-
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 17
cess. 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 figures 8 and 9.)
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
Fig. 6. Collecting tobacco leaves in the field. The leaves are "primed" (see
figure 5) by workers who hand them to women, girls or boys. They in turn
collect the leaves in "pads" and place them in boxes or litters which are covered
with burlap or canvas as protection from the sun. (Courtesy of Florida Experi-
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 circu-
lation 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
18 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
No fixed rules can be given for curing tobacco properly, as
the manipulation of the ventilators is governed by weather con-
ditions 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 essential that the
leaves not be in too high case, as the color will became 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 imma-
ture ones. However, during dry weather these changes may be
almost unnoticeable, especially on the lower leaves.
Fig. 7. Burlap-covered "drag box" used for collecting the leaves of bright
tobacco. If the barn is close to the field, the box may be dragged by the
mule right up to the stringers. If some distance, the drag box 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 ob-
tained 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 boxes" 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 alter-
nately on each side of the stick. In placing the sticks in the
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 19
barn, sufficient space should be left between the sticks and
around the walls to permit free circulation of air.
The curing of bright tobacco is forced by heat from flues and
is accomplished in a much shorter time than cigar wrapper to-
Fig. 8. Stringing bright tobacco. From three to five leaves are collected
In a "hand" and then looped with a string along with many other hands,
alternating sides, to a stick which is hung in the barn for curing.
bacco is cured. However, anything which kills the leaf pre-
maturely, such as breaking or bruising in harvesting, or very
rapid drying, prevents good curing.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
When harvested the leaf contains a high percentage ,of water
and the rate of drying or losing this water has an important
effect on the cured product. Consequently, the temperature and
humidity must be regulated very carefully in order to control
the rate of drying.
The proper temperature to be maintained inside the barn will
be influenced by the temperature and humidity of the outside
air. For example, the temperature inside the barn must be
higher during warm or rainy weather than during cool or dry
Air is also an important factor in controlling the humidity of
the barn. Saturated air has no drying capacity until its tem-
perature is raised. During the early stages of curing, while
the color is developing, high humidity is essential; but when the
tobacco is ready to be dried out, humidity in the barn must be
low. These conditions are made possible by manipulating the
ventilators in such a manner that the humidity will be retained
Fig. 9. Interior view of a cigar wrapper tobacco curing barn. Note the arrange-
ment of the tier poles and the manner of placing the sticks of tobacco on them.
(Courtesy of Florida Experiment Station.)
in the barn during the early stages of curing and be allowed
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
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 21
furnace as soon as possible after the barn is filled. A ther-
mometer should be hung on the lower tier near the center of
the barn and the door. Shut all ventilators before starting the
The temperature inside the barn should be raised slowly and
maintained at from 950 to 1000 Fahrenheit for the first 24
hours, gradually increasing it to 120' by the end of 36 hours.
During this period the yellow color develops. This desired
color having developed, the next step is to "fix" it. This is
accomplished by opening the ventilators and gradually rais-
ing the temperature 50 every two hours, to about 1350 or
1400 at the end of 48 hours after the fire was started. The tem-
perature 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 tem-
perature 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 1700 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 mois-
ture for handling without injury. Then remove from the barn
and store in a suitable place until the tobacco is carried to mar-
ket. 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 stack-
ing in bulks of from 4,000 to 6,000 pounds on platforms about
four inches above the floor in rooms with a temperature of from
75 to 85' Farenheit and with a relatively high humidity. Each
priming is kept separately throughout the curing and ferment-
ing processes and may be baled separately after it has been as-
sorted into the different grades.
The bulk is begun by laying the outer row, one hand over-
lapping the other, along the outer edge of the platform, placing
the butts of the hands even with the edge of the platform and
22 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 con-
tent 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 moisture it con-
tains 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 free of gum and harshness.
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
SORTING AND SELECTING
'When the fermenting process is completed, the tobacco leaves
are too dry to be opened up for examination of color and tex-
ture 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 weight.
From here more skilled laborers select the leaves for different
shades of color, making a total of from six to 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 fermentation 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
Fig. 11. Two different types of bales of cigar wrapper tobacco. The wooden
boxes are for the finer grades which require greater protection from damage in
transit. (Courtesy of Florida Experiment Station.)
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. (See figure 11.)
24 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 tobacco to a marked de-
gree. When introduced into new localities with different
climatic and soil conditions, uniform 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 variation 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 conspicuously 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-pollination. How-
ever, 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 manilla paper bags are convenient for
tying over the flower heads. The bags may be perforated with
a needle to permit circulation 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 flowers should also be removed.
Except 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 uniformity in the field and packing
house than plants produced from light seed.
If the grower is not prepared to select and clean his own seed,
he should procure them from a reliable source.
CONSTRUCTION OF TOBACCO SHADES
Shade for tobacco fields consists of a wire frame supported 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.
Although the initial cost of constructing a cloth shade is less,
the cloth can only be used overhead one or two years. Conse-
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
quently, cloth is more expensive, except where tobacco is grown
on the same land for only one or two years. Furthermore, 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 rein-
forced at intervals with crossbars of closer mesh. It is woven in
Fig. 12. Exterior view of cigar wrapper tobacco curing barn. Note the method
of securing ventilation, and then note the method in the following illustration.
(Courtesy of Florida Experiment Station.)
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 1/4 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 at-
tached to a block of wood buried in the ground eight feet from
No. 4 wire is stretched over the tops of the posts in one direc-
tion 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
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 13. Exterior view of another cigar wrapper tobacco curing barn where a
different type of ventilator is used than in preceding illustration. (Courtesy of
Florida Experiment Station.)
Fig. 14. This illustrates structure (cross section) of a cigar wrapper curing barn.
(Courtesy of Florida Experiment Station.)
up. P--* -
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 27
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
When cloth is used alone, fewer posts and a smaller amount
of wire are required. The cloth is stretched underneath 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.
CURING BARNS, for-
Cigar Wrapper and Filler Tobaccos: The same manner of
curing and the same kind of curing barn are used for cigar
Fig. 15. 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. Note 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
28 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
wrapper and filler tobaccos. The size of the barn is determined
by the number of acres to be cured, where fewer than five acres
The most common size of curing barn is 120 feet long, 40 feet
wide and 20 feet high at the eaves. This size is considered
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
T _-- ---- :---; ._ a/
] L-%1 -IT -==-nJ
Fig. 16. This drawing illustrates the method of arranging the "twin" fur-
nace and flues in a bright tobacco curing barn. (Courtesy of Florida Ex-
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 horizon-
- tally. These boards are spaced vertically about three feet apart
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 29
and are attached to a strip so all boards of one section may be
opened or closed with one movement. (See figure 13.)
A wide door is provided at each end of the barn and a hall-
way 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 the roof. A cross
section of a curing barn may be seen in figure 14.
Bright Tobacco: Small barns of comparatively simple con-
struction are used for curing bright tobacco. Inside measure-
ments vary from 16 to 24 feet, always being a multiple of 4
feet, and 17 or 20 feet at the eaves. The tier poles are placed
about four feet apart across the barn and the first set is placed
about eight feet above ground with each succeeding set two
and a half or three feet higher. (See figure 15.)
The barns are built usually of logs. Cracks in log buildings
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 15 to 20 inches
high inside. The length of the furnace is half the length of the
barn with from 18 to 24 inches of it projecting outside the wall
of the barn. (See figure 16.)
The flue is made in sections similar to stove pipe. One end
is fitted into the furnace and the flue is passed around the in-
side of the barn about two feet 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 sufficient length to insure
good draft. The top end of the flue is provided with a hood.
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.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The present cost of a curing barn of standard size (120 x 40 x
20 feet) is approximately $2,000. Slat shades, including 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 commercial
fertilizer varies somewhat from year to year, the cost of stable
manure remains fairly constant and the average cost of both
materials may be placed at about $135 per acre.
Fig. 17. A field of sick and dying tobacco. Note that many plants died while yet
young. Some mature ones are just beginning to wilt. An occasional plant
(marked "X") is still apparently healthy. Black shank is the trouble. (Courtesy
of Florida Experiment Station.)
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 estimated at $200 per
Thus the average cost per acre for producing cigar wrapper
tobacco under cloth shade on the larger farms in 1927 has been
estimated as follows:
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
Shade materials and labor for construction .....$ 225
F ertilizers ................................. 135
L abor ...................................... 200
Insect poisons, tools, twine, charcoal, etc. ...... 50
Total .................................... $ 610
Fig. 18. Striking example of the destructiveness of black
shank, and just as striking an example of the value of
resistant tobacco. To the left is a non-resistant variety,
Connecticut Round Tip. To the right is a resistant strain,
spoken of as "301-4-5-1-7-3." (Courtesy of Florida Ex-
Production costs on smaller farms may be considerably below
this figure, especially when the stable manure is produced on
the farm and when little or none of the labor is hired. No
estimate of the cost of production can be obtained 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
32 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
yield. The price obtained for the cured tobacco varies from
50 to 90 cents per pound, depending upon the market and
quality of the tobacco.
From the figures above one may gain some idea of the income
to be derived from growing tobacco. ,To the costs given must
Fig. 19. Illustrations to show the different stages in the destruction of tobacco
roots by black shank. Note that the attack is from the surface of the soil down-
ward. (Courtesy of Florida Experiment Station.)
be added investment in land and equipment, interest on invest-
ment, depreciation of houses and other equipment, etc.
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 information
I ji I
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
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 produc-
tion is approximately 16 and 12 cents per pound, respectively.
So far little published information is available on the cost of
producing bright tobacco. Different farmers have reported the
cost of figures ranging from 10 to 20 cents per pound, exclusive
of interest on investment. Here again the cost per pound for
production varies with the yield per acre.
This bulletin was written early in June. It is being proofed
and put to press late in August, just as our growers of cigar
filler tobacco, as well as all who are interested in the tobacco
growers' welfare, are asking for an explanation of the extraor-
dinary slump in the 1930 bright tobacco market.
Perhaps it is easy for the onlooker to say how it ought to
be done. However, it is doubtful if even the most pessimistic
will take issue with certain speculations, if he will first con-
sider 'calmly and seriously the situation. In order for the
bright tobacco grower to make money, at least three things are
First, production costs must be kept to the absolute
minimum. This type of tobacco should be grown as a sideline,
not as a leader. It should be produced by the farmer with
his own farm labor.
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 goods win.
Third, acreage, production, must be kept down. We are
simply placing too much tobacco of this kind on the market.
That is in direct violation of one of the oldest and most funda-
mental economic principles. Supply and demand determine
prices. Of course, it is impossible 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, as same as
the banker before he lends money. Of course, the govern-
ment 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. It
"Experience has shown that flue-cured tobacco can not
34 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
be grown profitably on a payroll. However, it will yield some
returns when planted on an acreage that can be handled by
the farmer, provided the land and cultural methods are suit-
able. It is futile to attempt to grow bright tobacco on land
which is not adapted to its culture. Even on the best land
it is advisable to adopt a rotation system that will promise the
maximum yield of the best quality, because any factor which
reduces the yield or impairs the quality will reduce the profits
"Foreign competition is another factor which is having a
retarding 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 experi-
menting with the production of flue-cured tobacco in South
Africa and South America, and to a less extent in other coun-
tries. 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 growing 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.
"This offers direct competition to exports from the United
States and has caused a considerable decrease in the amount
exported during the last few years. In 1928 this country
exported 434,897,569 pounds and in 1929 it sent out 408,939,122
pounds, a decrease of 25,958,447 pounds. There was also a
decrease of 594,479,000 cigarettes exported from the United
States in 1929, although part of this decrease was attributed
to the unsettled conditions in China, since that country receives
a larger portion of the exported cigarettes.
"W\ith 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
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 and
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
Black Shank is caused by a fungous parasite (Phytophthora
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
Signs of the disease do not appear in the field until the tem-
perature of the soil warms up-usually not before the middle
of April. Plants attacked by black shank wilt suddenly 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 in-
fested earth might adhere.
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 suc-
cessfully on infested soil have been developed by the Tobacco
Experiment Station located at Quincy. Dr. W. B. Tisdale, now
plant pathologist of the Florida 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
Fig. 20. 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 tissue of the eel-like nematodes. (Photo by courtesy
of Florida Experiment Station.)
36 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
strains. So far no resistant strain of bright tobacco has been
produced. However, since it has been found advisable and prac-
ticable to rotate bright tobacco with certain other crops in order
to produce good quality, this crop is rarely ever attacked by
Root-Knot is a serious disease of tobacco under certain con-
ditions, 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 rootlets and causes knots or
galls to develop on them. Attacked 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
The only known method for controlling root-knot of tobacco
is to adopt a system of crop rotation whereby susceptible crops
will not be grown on the land for a period of two or three years
Clean cultivation should be practiced with these crops when
possible in order to keep down weeds, many of which are sus-
ceptible to root-knot. Also tobacco should be transplanted as
early as possible so a root system will have become established
before the soil is warm enough for the nematodes to become
Wildfire is a leaf-spot disease caused by a germ or bacterial
parasite (Bacterium 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 construct-
ing beds, and on old tobacco stalks left standing on the beds.
The organism does not survive in the field from one year to
another 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 seedbed 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 con-
ditions are favorable for its development, wildfire may cause
a total loss of the crop.
Control of wildfire is fairly simple, if certain precautions are
taken. These are:
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA
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 solu-
tion (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 sub-
limate 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
te sp If healthy plants are trans-
Fig. 21. Wildfire on a leaf of cigar planted, there will be no
wrapper tobacco. Note the yellow halo trouble from wildfire in the
around the central dead area of each field. Wildfire can not be
spot. (Photo by courtesy of Florida successfully controlled in the
Experiment Station.) field by spraying or dusting.
Hence is is important that the disease be kept out of the plant
Frog-Eye is a leaf-spot disease which is of greatest impor-
tance in cigar wrapper tobacco. The disease occurs on bright
tobacco but because of the form in which this tobacco is used
the spots are not so objectionable.
Frog-eye does not attack vigorous growing plants. However,
when the growth is checked by improper cultural methods (such
as deep plowing), root-knot or wet soil, the disease usually ap-
pears and may cause serious damage in a short time.
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 prac-
tice 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. Usually it
does not attack the leaves until they are ripe or except when
38 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 22. Cured leaf of tobacco showing typical symptoms
of frog-eye. (Courtesy of Florida Experiment Station.)
TOBACCO GROWING IN FLORIDA 39
the growth is checked prematurely by improper cultural
methods, root-knot or unfavorable weather conditions late in
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.
The disease is more serious in fields or portions of fields in-
fested 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 rings.
The known methods of control are systems of rotation which
will reduce root-knot infestation to a minimum, cultivating
properly and harvesting the leaves as soon as they are ripe.
Certain insects of tobacco are always present in the state and,
unless combatted, almost invariably destroy the commercial
value of the crop. The most important insect pests are bud-
worms, hornworms and flea-beetles, while cutworms, grasshop-
pers and pumpkin bugs are of minor importance. The severity
of attacks by these insects may vary from year to year, but
budworms and hornworms occur in destructive numbers every
Insects are always more numerous during the latter part of
the growing season, and unless control measures are employed,
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 harvested.
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 numbers
throughout the season. The eggs are laid by a greenish-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 damage.
Budworms can be completely controlled by keeping a mix-
ture of corn meal 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 75 pounds
of corn meal.
Hornworms are most troublesome during the latter part of
40 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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
Hornworms are fairly easily controlled immediately after the
eggs hatch, but after they attain considerable size it is dif-
ficult to apply a sufficient amount of poison to kill them with-
out 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 applied
at the rate of from 3/4 to 2 pounds per acre twice a week after
the worms begin to appear. The lighter applications are made
during the latter part of the growing season.
Arsenate of lead is considered best for controlling the horn-
worm 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 measures are neg-
lected. 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 harvested. 5. If tobacco is attacked in the
field, use frequent light applications of paris green.
Frequent reference in writing this bulletin has been made to
Bulletins 166 and 198, entitled respectively "Tobacco 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, plant pathologist, has offered many
very valuable suggestions in the preparation of this one and
has read the manuscript.
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 Experi-
ment Station, Gainesville, Florida.