Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ; 198
Title: Tobacco culture in Florida
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 Material Information
Title: Tobacco culture in Florida
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Physical Description: p. 375-428 : ill., plans ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Tisdale, W. B ( William Burleigh ), 1890-
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1928
Subject: Tobacco -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 428.
Statement of Responsibility: by W.B. Tisdale.
General Note: Cover title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026405
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000923505
oclc - 18173737
notis - AEN4056

Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

Bulletin 198





Fig. 156.-A good crop of Connecticut Round Tip tobacco growing under
cloth shade.

Bulletins will be sent free upon application to the
Agricultural Experiment Station

June, 1928

P. K. YONGE, Chairman, Pensacola E. L. WARTMANN, Citra
E. W. LANE, Jaclsonville J. T. DIAMOND, Secretary, Talla-
A. H. BLANDING, Leesburg hassee.
W. B. DAVIS, Perry J. G. KELLUM, Auditor, Tallahassee
WILMON NEWELL, D. Sc., Director ERNEST G. MOORE, M. S., Asst. Ed
JOHN M. SCOTT, B. S., Vice-Director IDA KEELING CRESAP, Librarian
S. T. FLEMING, A. B., Asst. to Di- RUBY NEWHALL, Secretary
rector K. H. GRAHAM, Business Manager

W. E. STOKES, M. S. Agronomist
W. A. LEUKEL, Ph. D., Asso.
C. R. ENLOW, M. S. A., Asst.*
FRED 'H. HULL, M. S. A., Asst.
A. S. LAIRD, M. S. A., Asst.
JOHN M. SCOTT, B. S., Animal
F. X. BRENNEIS, B. S.A., Dairy

M. A. BROKER, M. S. A., Asst.
L. W. GADDUM, Ph. D., Asst.
C. F. AHMANN, Ph. D., Asst.
J. R. WATSON, A. M., Entomologist
A. N. TISSOT, M. S., Asst.
H. E. BRATLEY, M. S. A., Asst.

R. W. RUPRECHT, Ph.D., Chemist A. F. CAMP, Ph. D., Asso. Hort.
R. M. BARNETTE, Ph. D., Asst. M. R. ENSIGN, M. S., Asst.
C. E. BELL, M. S., Asst. HAROLD MOWRY, Asst.
H. L. MARSHALL, M. S., Asst. G. H. BLACKMON, M. S. A., Pecan
J. M. COLEMAN, B. S., Asst. Culturist
W. A. CARVER, Ph. D., Asst. K. W. LOCKS, B. S., Asst.
M. N. WALKER, Ph. D., Asst. ERDMAN WEST, B. S., Mycologist
RAYMOND CROWN, B.S.A., Field Asst. A. L. SHEALY, D.V.M., Veterinarian
C. V. NOBLE, Ph. D., Ag. Economist E. F. THOMAS, D. V. M., Lab. Asst.
W. B. TISDALE, Ph. D., Plant Pathologist, in charge, Tobacco Experiment
Station (Quincy)
Ross F. WADKINS, M. S., Lab. Asst. in Plant Pathology (Quincy)
JESSE REEVES, Foreman, Tobacco Experiment Station (Quincy)
J. H. JEFFERIES, Superintendent, Citrus Experiment Station (Lake Alfred)
W. A. KUNTZ, A. M., Assistant Plant Pathologist (Lake Alfred)
R. L. MILLER, Assistant Entomologist (Lake Alfred)
W. L. THOMPSON, Assistant Entomologist (Lake Alfred)
GEO. E. TEDDER, Foreman, Everglades Experiment Station (Belle Glade)
R. V. ALLISON, Ph. D., Soils Specialist (Belle Glade)
J. H. HUNTER, M. S., Assistant Agronomist (Belle Glade)
J. L. SEAL, Ph. D., Assistant Plant Pathologist (Belle Glade)
H. E. HAMMAR, M. S., Field Assistant (Belle Glade)
L. O. GRATZ, Ph. D., Associate Plant Pathologist (Hastings)
A. N. BROOKS, Ph. D., Associate Plant Pathologist (Plant City)
A. S. RHOADS, Ph. D., Associate Plant Pathologist (Cocoa)
STACY O. HAWKINS, M. A., Field Assistant in Plant Pathology (Homestead)
D. G. A. KELBERT, Field Assistant in Plant Pathology (Bradenton)
R. E. NOLEN, M. S. A., Field Assistant in Plant Pathology (Monticello)
FRED W. WALKER, Assistant Entomologist (Monticello)
E. D. BALL, Ph. D., Associate Entomologist (Sanford)

*In cooperation with U. S. Department of Agriculture.

INTRODUCTION .................. --- ........ ---- --------.. 379
TYPES OF TOBACCO GROWN ............... -----------------------.- 382
CULTURE OF CIGAR WRAPPER TOBACCO ....--....---.....- .. --------------- 386
Preparation and Care of Plant Beds ---...............-.------- --- -- 386
Fertilizing the Plant Bed ...............---..-----------------.... 387
Irrigated Beds ...... ~--........-.. ..- ------------.. 388
Preparing the Land ................................... --- 390
Fertilizers .......-...... ....... ... -------- --.--- 390
Transplanting and Cultivating --....... ---- -----......---- ----------392
Harvesting and Curing .......---- --------........----------... 395
Fermenting and Packing .............-....~. -- -------- 398
Sorting and Selecting -----......................-- ---.---- 401
Selecting Tobacco Seed .-.......--........- .. ----------------- 403
CONSTRUCTION OF TOBACCO SHADES --.....---........----- -- ------..--... 405
CURING BARNS FOR CIGAR WRAPPER TOBACCO ..........----............--------.----- 409
COST OF PRODUCING CIGAR WRAPPER TOBACCO ........--...-.....--.------------- 410
CIGAR FILLER TOBACCO ...--...--............-...-- --------.. --. 412
Fertilizers .-......-..-.. ........ ---..--- ----- ---- 412
Fermenting and Packing ............... ------------------------- 413
BRIGHT OR FLUE-CURED TOBACCO ................---------- -------- ---------- 413
Crop Rotation System ........------.....----.. --. -------... 414
Preparing and Fertilizing the Land .......-- --------------... ........ ---- 415
Fertilizers .........--........---.. --- -------....------... 416
Sources of Fertilizer Ingredients .-- -------~~. -.. ........ 417
Transplanting and Cultivating ..----.......-...-... ------------- 417
Topping .. ---------------..........- ----------------- 418
Suckering .......------------............ .------------ 419
Harvesting ....................--------------- --------- --------------- 419
Curing ---........ ........ ..---------------------------- 420
CURING BARNS ..................------------------------------------423
DISEASES OF TOBACCO ................... ----- ---------------... 425
INSECT PESTS OF TOBACCO ......... ------- ...............---- ........425
Budworm .................. ---------------------------- 426
Hornworm ........................... ------------------------------ 426
Flea-beetle ...----...........--------------- -----------. 427
LITERATURE CITED ............ --------------------.---------- 428



Tobacco is a staple or money crop and fits well into the gen-
eral farming system in localities adapted to its culture, so long
as the supply does not exceed the demand. Tobacco differs from
other crops in that the trade is more exacting in its demand for
certain qualities and when the tobacco does not have these quali-
ties it is either unprofitable or cannot be sold. This is especially
true with the cigar wrapper type of tobacco. Therefore, it is
necessary that the tobacco grower produce what the trade de-
Tobacco culture in Florida, as well as in most other tobacco-
growing districts, has a tendency toward specialization. The early
settlers of Virginia produced at first a single fundamental type
of tobacco (5).* As its culture was carried into new territory
it was seen that the changes in soil and climate resulted in im-
portant differences in the character of the tobacco produced.
It gradually became apparent that these differences in the
properties of the tobacco leaf due to soil and climatic influences
and to different ideals in selecting the seed greatly affected its
adaptability for use in different forms. The product from one
section, for example, was more suitable for chewing or smok-
ing, while that from another section was more suitable for
cigar wrappers or binders. It was also learned that these differ-
ences in quality of the tobacco leaf could be accentuated by
modifying the methods of growing and curing. Thus, through a
process of gradual evolution under different soil and climatic
conditions, accompanied by different cultural methods, several
distinct types of tobacco have been developed. Each of these
types is produced most successfully in certain districts and the
buyers and manufacturers look to each of the respective dis-
tricts for a particular type and quality of leaf. Therefore, with
available knowledge on the subject it is difficult or impossible
to supply information which will enable one to grow in new
localities certain types of tobacco which will successfully com-
pete in quality with the same type of tobacco produced in old
recognized districts.
During the last five years there has been an increasing inter-

*Reference is made by number (italic) te "Literature Cited", p. 428.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

est in the culture of tobacco in Florida and adjoining states, as
shown by the demand for literature on the subject. This bulle-
tin is in no way considered a treatise on the whole subject, but
it brings together in small compass information on the soil arid
climatic conditions suited for certain types of tobacco and the
cultural methods employed by successful companies and indi-
vidual growers of the state. Only a limited amount of the infor-
mation set forth is based upon experimental work done by the
Tobacco Experiment Station. The methods for growing and cur-
ing tobacco in the state have undergone considerable changes
during the last 30 years and it appears quite probable that a
number of the methods described in this bulletin will undergo
gradual changes in the future.

No information is available as to when tobacco culture was
first introduced into the state. However, it is reported (2) that
seed of Cuban tobacco was first introduced into the state about
1828. This type of tobacco became known as "Little Duval" in
honor of its introducer. A little later, another type was intro-
duced which became known as "Florida" or "Florida Wrapper."
This type soon proved to be more popular because of the larger
yield and better quality of leaf for cigar wrappers, which were
in great demand at that time by European countries.
The first experiment with Cuban tobacco as a market crop was
inaugurated about 1830. The success of this experiment at-
tracted the attention of nearby farmers and tobacco soon became
one of the stable crops, especially in Gadsden County. There was
a gradual increase in the amount of tobacco produced in the state
up to about 1850, followed by a rapid increase during the next
decade. The total amount produced in the state in 1850 was re-
ported at 998,614 pounds with 776,177 pounds of this credited to
Gadsden Counity (2). There are no figures available for the state
as a whole in 1860 but the amount produced in Gadsden County
alone in that year was estimated at 1,200,000 pounds.
For a period of about 25 years after the Civil War the culture
of tobacco as a market crop was almost discontinued in the
state (3). This was reported to have been due to the fact that
the European markets found other sources fpr their tobacco
during the war when they could not obtain the Florida product


Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

and did not return to Florida after the close of the war. Begin-
ning about the year 1889 the industry was revived and expanded
very rapidly during the next decade.
Since about 1900 the total acreage in the state is said to have
increased very little until in 1924 when the culture of bright
tobacco was introduced on an extensive scale. The expansion of
the industry in 1889 was reported (3) to have been due to the
tariff agitation which caused the manufacturers to pull away
from foreign markets. At that time the color and quality of
wrapper demanded by these manufacturers had changed and
the light Florida leaf was found to suit their requirements bet-
ter than that from other sources.
During this period of rapid expansion experiments were in-
augurated by private growers of Gadsden County and by the
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, then located at Lake
City, for the purpose of improving the yield and quality of
leaf (7). As a result of these experiments valuable information
was obtained on the best sources and amounts of fertilizers to
use, the most suitable types of soil, and the best methods of culti-
vation and curing.
It was also during this period that the idea of improving the
quality of cigar wrapper leaf through the use of artificial shade
was developed. In the course of experimentation with different
varieties of tobacco it was reported that plants grown under
partial shade of trees were observed to produce thinner leaves
which were better suited for cigar wrappers than were leaves
of plants grown in the open. This led, in 1896, to the construc-
tion of artificial shade over one-fourth acre of land. The decided
improvement in quality of leaf produced proved the value of
shade in the production of cigar wrappers, and the construction
of shades was immediately begun in this district on a large
It has been reported (11) that at least for the first half cen-
tury after its introduction the culture of tobacco was rather
widely distributed over the state and that there were types of
soil in several sections of the state adapted to the production of
a good quality of leaf. As the demands of the trade changed,
tobacco culture became more and more specialized and required
more capital and skill to produce the quality of leaf desired. Con-
sequently, the industry became more localized, with Gadsden
County as the main center of production. After the development

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

of the artificial shade in Gadsden County this method of.tobacco
culture was introduced into Leon, Madison and Pasco counties.
At present, however, practically all of the shade-grown tobacco
is produced in Gadsden and Madison counties. The industry
also extends into Decatur and Grady counties, Georgia. The total
acreage of shade in Florida and Georgia has been estimated to
be between 4,000 and 4,500 acres, the greater portion of this
acreage being in Florida. The total acreage planted to Sumatra
tobacco in 1927 in the Florida-Georgia district for filler was esti-
mated to be about 1,400 acres.
In 1924 the culture of bright or flue-cured tobacco was intro-
duced into practically all of the northern counties of the state
and since that year it has extended some distance down the pen-
insula. The United States Department of Agriculture estimated
that there were 5,418 acres of flue-cured tobacco planted in Flor-
ida in 1927 and the yield was estimated at 4,071,000 pounds. A
greater portion of the crop was sold on the Georgia markets,
which are more conveniently located to certain sections of Flor-
ida than are the Florida markets.
At present there are only two flue-cured tobacco markets in
Florida. One of these is located at Quincy, the other at Live
Oak. There were 425,000 pounds of leaf sold on the Quincy mar-
ket in 1926 and 694,916 pounds in 1927. For the same years
there were 436,000 and 510,000 pounds, respectively, sold at Live

Prior to 1924 cigar tobaccos were the chief type grown in
the state. There are three fundamental types of cigar tobaccos,
corresponding to the three parts of the cigar-wrapper leaf,
binder leaf and filler leaf. As previously stated, certain varieties
or strains of tobacco are peculiarly adapted for one of the three
parts of a cigar and are grown for that purpose in certain locali-
ties where soil and climatic conditions favor production of the
best quality. None of the binder varieties is grown in Florida as
such. However, there is always a percentage of the leaves of
wrapper varieties which are too heavy for use as wrappers, espe-
cially the top leaves, or those mechanically unsound. Such leaves
are used as binders or fillers in the manufacture of certain
brands of cigars. Florida tobacco has always been characterized

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

as light colored, thin, and free-burning and there is always a
demand for a certain amount of it.
Since the wrapper leaf has always commanded the highest
price of any of the types grown in the state, it has been the am-
bition of the growers to produce a crop with the highest possible
percentage of this grade of leaf. Consequently, old varieties have
been discarded from time to time as new ones proved to be more
The first type of Cuban tobacco introduced into the state was
said to have produced a narrow leaf and low yield. After a few
years this type was discarded for another (introduced) variety
which produced a larger yield of leaves better suited to the
manufacture of cigars. This variety was known as "Florida" or
"Florida Wrapper" and was the principal variety grown until
the Civil War. Several years after the war, seed were introduced
from Sumatra and this variety became most popular for wrap-
pers with the revival of the industry in 1889 (11). In 1884
another variety was introduced from Cuba which became very
popular for filler leaf and finally supplanted the "Old Florida"
for that purpose.
After some experimentation with the different varieties under
shade for wrappers a selection of the Sumatra variety was ac-
cepted as the most profitable for that purpose and was grown
almost exclusively until about 1906. From a cross between the
Sumatra and Cuban varieties a new variety was developed which
became known as Big Cuba. This variety was first grown suc-
cessfully under shade about 1903. Because of the larger yield
and higher percentage of light wrappers Big Cuba had almost
entirely replaced Sumatra for growing under shade by 1906 and
continued to be the most important variety until 1923. The Su-
matra variety is still being grown in the open for filler leaf. In
1921 a variety of cigar leaf tobacco known as Connecticut Round
Tip was introduced from Connecticut and since 1923 has been
grown very extensively under cloth shades.
It was reported in 1895 (10) that bright plug wrapper, cig-
arette and pipe tobacco could be successfully produced in Flor-
ida, using the Long ,Gooch and White Stem Orinoco varieties.
Two years later it was reported (11) that the culture of bright
tobacco had been abandoned in the state because of the great
distance to market and because the cigar leaf was more profit-
able to grow. No further records of the culture of this type of

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

tobacco in the state have been noted until recent years. In 1924
the culture of bright or flue-cured tobacco was introduced into
the northern part of the state on an extensive scale. The suc-
cess with the crop that year stimulated expansion into prac-
tically all of the northern and western counties and to some ex-
tent down the peninsula. It has been demonstrated that a fair
to good quality of this type of tobacco can be produced on the
Norfolk series of soils in the northern part of the state, but
just how far down the state it can be grown with equal success
remains to be determined.


The quality of tobacco is perhaps affected more by soil and
climate than that of any other crop (5, 11). Climate is a de-
termining factor in the general distribution of tobacco culture
in the United States; that is, the distribution of the different
types. In any given district the physical and chemical properties
of the soil constitute an important factor in the development
of those qualities of the leaf of any type which determine its
value to the trade. Both the surface soil and the subsoil are of
importance in this particular. So pronounced is the influence of
soil on the 'quality of tobacco that certain farms in a district
produce a quality of leaf which merits a premium in price. With
available information on the subject, it is impossible to analyze
fully the remarkable influence of these seemingly slight differ-
ences in soil and climate on the quality of tobacco produced.
Therefore, the trade is reluctant to buy tobacco from a new lo-
cality until it has been established that a good quality of leaf
can be produced.
During the early years of tobacco culture in the state the crop
was grown exclusively on virgin hammock land. The hardwood
trees and brush were cut and burned on the land as the only
source of fertilizer. The soils which produced the best quality
of leaf by this method were comparatively low, well drained,
gray sandy loams with a porous clay subsoil.
After the Civil War, when the value of certain commercial
fertilizers and manure had been recognized, the farmers found
that with the judicial use of these materials a good quality of
tobacco could be produced on old soils (1). With this informa-

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

tion the farmers were prepared to profitably increase the acre-
age in 1889 to supply the demand for Florida leaf.
A soil survey of Gadsden County made by the United States
Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Soils, in 1903 shows nine
types of soil in the county. At present, cigar wrapper tobacco
is being grown more or less successfully on six of these types of
soil, although a greater percentage of the crop is grown on the
well drained lighter series-Norfolk sandy loam, Norfolk fine
sandy loam and Orangeburg sand. With proper fertilization these
soils produce a wrapper leaf of fine texture, light in color and
weight and with a good "burn." Gadsden sand is said to produce
a more desirable quality of wrapper leaf than any of the other
types of soil. However, the areas of this type of soil occur in
long, narrow strips adjacent to streams and hence are not well
suited,for the construction of shades.
Filler type of tobacco is grown to some extent on all types of
soil planted to the wrapper type, but the best yield and quality
of this tobacco are usually produced on the medium to heavy
soils, as Norfolk sandy loam, Orangeburg sand and Orangeburg
sandy loam. These soils produce a heavier leaf of good texture,
flavor and aroma and, when properly fertilized, the burn is satis-
factory. The burn is given important consideration by the manu-
facturer, as the filler constitutes about three-fourths of the bulk
of a cigar and exerts a strong influence on its burning quality.
Soil adaptation is also a very important factor in the produc-
tion of a satisfactory quality of bright or flue-cured tobacco. It
influences the color of the leaf as well as the other important
qualities, as texture, richness and body. In general, soils adapted
to the production of flue-cured tobacco are well drained, light
and sandy to a depth of six to 10 inches, unlerlaid with a yel-
lowish sandy-clay subsoil. Soils of this type belong to the Nor-
folk series. They are relatively low in plant food, especially nitro-
gen and organic matter, but most of them are very responsive
to artificial enrichment by means of fertilizers, manure and soil-
improving crops. The lighter colored sandy soils produce the
brightest colored tobacco, unless offset by some other factor,
but the leaf is apt to be thin and chaffy. Although the bright
yellow color of flue-cured tobacco is one of its valued characters,
body, richness and texture are also important. Therefore, the
deep sandy soils should be avoided. On the other hand, the heavy

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

soils should also be avoided because they produce a heavy, rough
leaf which does not ripen well and, when cured, the color is dark
or mahogany.

The young tobacco plant is developed from the seed in a cloth-
covered bed until it reaches a convenient size for transplanting.
The size and location of the plant beds depends upon the acre-
age of field to be planted and on the preference of the grower.
The general rule is to plant 100 square yards of bed for each
acre of land to be set from the bed. Under favorable conditions
this area of plant bed will provide a sufficient number of plants

Fig. 157.-Tobacco plant bed located on new land near a small stream.

for two acres. However, it is important to have an ample supply
of uniform and vigorous plants when weather conditions are
favorable for transplanting, as the success of the crop depends
to a great extent upon a uniform start.
There are now two methods of preparing and handling plant
beds in this section: on new, moist but well drained hammock
land, and on old upland under irrigation.
The former method has been in use in this district for years.
The beds are located near small creeks on land which is not sub-
ject to overflow (Fig. 157). A southern exposure is preferable,
although it is not necessary if the trees are cut around the bed

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

to admit sunlight. Such beds are usually burned or "fired" to
kill any weed or grass seeds and parasitic fungi which may be
present in the surface soil. The brush and timber are cut and
stacked ready for burning when it dries. The "firing" is usually
done in late November or December. The brush and leaves are
burned first and the land is raked clean.
Beginning at one end of the plot skids are laid about four feet
apart, extending in the direction of the length of the bed. A
pile of wood is then laid across the outer end of the skids and
the fire is started. When the ground has been burned in that
location, the fire and wood are 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 coals, and broken
shallow in order to leave the fertile soil on the surface. All tufts
and roots are removed and the clods are broken. This process
should be continued until the soil is brought to a fine tilth. As a
rule, stable manure is not applied to beds which are fired. If ap-
plied before firing the manure would be burned, and if applied
afterward weed and grass seeds would probably be introduced.


About two weeks before time for sowing the seed high grade
commercial fertilizer is applied at the rate of two to three pounds
per square yard and worked into the soil with a disc or small
,plow. If the bed is small, it is common practice to dig in the fer-
tilizer with potato rakes. The analysis and amount of fertilizer
should vary with the fertility of the soil, but the bed must be
very rich in order to produce uniform and vigorous plants. A
good plant bed fertilizer can be made by mixing two pounds of
a fertilizer analyzing 3 percent ammonia, 8 percent phosphoric
acid and 5 percent potash with one pound of cottonseed meal.
Some growers believe that lower percentages of phosphoric acid
and potash are sufficient.
During recent years a commercial brand of poultry manure
has been found to be a very satisfactory fertilizer for plant beds.
This material analyzes 6 percent ammonia, 2.5 percent phos-
phoric acid and 1.3 percent potash. The addition of superphos-
phate (acid phosphate) and sulphate of potash to make the total

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

analyze about 5 percent ammonia, 4 percent phosphoric acid and
3 percent potash improves the value of this fertilizer.
On the day the seed are to be sown the ground is again stirred
and the bed is divided into "lands" about three or four feet wide
for convenience in sowing the seed and pulling the plants. The
tops of the lands are leveled an d brought, to a fine tilth by means
of iron tooth rakes. One tablespoonful of seed is then mixed with
a convenient amount of dry sifted ashes, sand or equal parts of
sand, and cottonseed meal, and sowed on 100 square yards of bed,
It is better'to sow over the bed twice in order to insure uniform
distribution. Under favorable conditions this rate of sowing
gives a good stand of plants.
The seed must be covered very lightly. Packing with a roller
or tramping with the feet are the methods usually employed,
When tramped in with the feet the laborer advances sideways
with the steps overlipping so as to leave the surface smooth.
After sowing, the beds are covered with shade cloth stretched
over wires about two or three feet above the ground. Some grow;
ers prefer to have the cloth about five or six feet above the
ground so laborers can get under it to remove any weeds which
may appear. Before leaving the bed ditches should be opened
up around the outside to insure proper drainage and to prevent
water flowing in from the outside.


The permanent irrigated beds are usually located on upland
near the packing houses or pumping stations in easy access to
the steam and water supply. When located in unprotected places
the beds are enclosed with board walls and have a permanent
wire frame stretched overhead about six or seven feet above
ground. The overhead sprinkler type of irrigation system is used.
The main lines may be laid on or above the soil surface and
smaller upright pipes containing a sprinkler nozzle at the upper
end are connected at intervals of 15 or 20 feet, depending upon
the water pressure, to insure uniform sprinkling of the bed.
The beds are given a liberal application of stable manure and
broken in the fall. They are then sterilized by the inverted pan
method, which is also done during November or December. About
two weeks before time for SNowiing the seed commercial fertilizer
is applied at the rate of 2 to 3 pounds per square yard and worked

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

into the soil with a disc or potato rakes. On the day the seed are
to be sown the land is again stirred and laid off into "lands" about
3 to 4 feet wide. The lands are then leveled and the soil brought to
a fine tilth with iron tooth rakes. The seed are sown at the same
rate and in the same manner as described for new land beds.
Shade cloth is stretched over the wire frame a few days before
the seed are sown and usually a second covering of cloth is put
on about 2 to 3 feet above ground after the seed are sown. The
date for sowing the seed varies with seasonal conditions. As a
rule, most beds in the vicinity of Quincy are sown during the
month of January. A few beds are usually sown during the lat-
ter part of December.

Fig. 158.-Irrigated plant bed. The plants are ready for transplanting.

The beds are irrigated lightly immediately after the seed are
sown and thereafter as often as necessary to prevent the surface
from drying out until the seedlings are established. The germi-
nating seed and young seedlings are very easily injured by dry-
ing out and the bed has to be kept moist, not wet, until the
roots are well established. Subsequent irrigation is provided as
needed to keep the soil in favorable condition for growth of the
seedlings until they are ready for transplanting to the field
(Fig. 158).
Immediately before pulling the plants the soil should be thor-
oughly sprinkled in order to cause the least possible injury to

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

the root system in the pulling process. The plants are removed
from the beds separately and placed in baskets or crates in
which they are carried to the fields. When the bed is a consider-
able distance from the field it is more convenient to place the
plants in large flat crates which are placed on wagons and hauled
to the field. These crates are made of such size that four of them
will hold the number of plants required to set an acre. The crate
is placed on end in an inclining position and the plants are laid
in with the roots in contact with a piece of moist burlap. After
it has been filled the crate is set down on the bottom so the
plants are left in an unright position.

A rapid and uninterrupted growth is necessary for the produc-
tion of the finest quality of leaf for cigar wrappers. In order to
obtain such growth special attention must be given to the mat-
ter of preparing and fertilizing the land. Land to be planted to
shade tobacco should be broken and subsoiled in the fall.
Some growers have obtained good results by planting rye in
the fall and turning it under early in February. Where rye is
planted it should be turned under before the cut-worm moths
begin to deposit eggs on it, and in ample time for it to decay
before tobacco is transplanted. Whatever method of preparation
is used in the fall, the land should be broken again early in the
spring so as to bring it to a fine tilth.


So far as known, there is no "best" tobacco fertilizer or "best"
formula for all seasons, even on the same soil. Experience has
shown that a formula or a form of fertilizer which in one sea-
son produces a crop of somewhat better quality than another,
may the next year on the same soil prove inferior to others.
Differences in weather conditions from year to year are in part
responsible for these variable results. However, by comparing
the effects of fertilizers for a period of years, it appears that
certain of them are on the whole more likely to impart a satis-
factory quality to the leaf than are certain others. Therefore,
the fertilizer which gives the best average results over a period
of years should be considered the most satisfactory one to use.

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

Since different soils vary greatly in their composition, the
proper analysis and amounts of fertilizer should be determined
by each grower for his conditions. All soils require the addition
of nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash. The proper amounts
of each of these ingredients can be determined by applying dif-
ferent amounts in different combinations to small plots and keep-
ing a record of the yield and quality for several years. This has
already been done to some extent, but there is need for further
experimentation on the different types of soil.
Stable manure has long been considered essential for the pro-
duction of fine quality wrapper leaf and is always used when-
ever it can be obtained. From 10 to 15 tons per acre is the usual
amount of manure applied. The value of manure lies more in its
beneficial effect upon the physical character of the soil than in
the amount of plant food it contains. It adds bacterial life to
soil and by the process of its decay helps make available the
mineral nutrients of the soil. Manure also facilitates the holding
and movement of soil water. The plant food in manure is slowly
available and for this reason it should be applied sufficiently
long in advance of transplanting to permit decomposition and
incorporation with the soil. Fall is considered the best time for
applying it. Manure should never be applied in the row in large
quantities shortly before setting the plants, as it holds the land
open and permits it to dry out. Such practice often results in a
poor stand of plants, or a slow start.
A heavy application of commercial fertilizer is always used
in addition to the stable manure. The average amount of com-
mercial fertilizer used in this district is sufficient to obtain about
275 pounds of ammonia, 215 pounds of phosphoric acid, and 240
pounds of potash, per acre, including that in the manure. In
most cases a high grade mixture, analyzing about 4 to 5 percent
ammonia, 6 to 8 percent phosphoric acid and 4 to 6 percent pot-
ash, is used in combination with cottonseed meal or castor pom-
ace. Most of the mixtures contain 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 the potash. The carbonate of potash is used
most extensively and recently the domestic material made from
sugar beet pulp has come into favor. A few of the larger growers
purchase the materials or carriers separately and mix them ac-
cording to their own formulae. Fertilizers containing any appre-

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

ciable amount of chlorine are always avoided, as chlorine tends
to injure the burning quality of the leaf. For this reason muri-
ate of potash and kainit are not used.
Formerly lime was used on land to be planted to shade to-
bacco. In view of the recent work on the subject, it appears that
lime and other alkaline materials favor the development of cer-
tain diseases of tobacco, especially black root-rot. On account
of this the use of lime has been discontinued during recent years.
Furthermore, all of the tobacco soils tested in the Quincy dis-
trict were found to be neutral or only slightly acid and need no
lime for the normal development of the tobacco plant.
From two to four weeks before the plants are ready for trans-
planting the land is bedded out in rows 4 or 41/2 feet apart,. leav-
ing a balk where the row is to be located. (Some growers pre-
fer bedding out the land each time it is broken rather than break-
ing it broadcast.) The commercial fertilizer is applied by hand
on this balk and the balk is then broken out.with a solid sweep
or straight shovel plow to mix the fertilizer with the soil. A bed
is then made on the open furrow with a one-horse turn plow.
Some growers turn out the entire middle, while others use only
four furrows to the row.


On the morning of the day the plants are to be set the bed is
thrown back on the middles and the balk is again broken out
with a sweep or shovel. A bed for the plants is then made by
throwing two furrows together with a seven-inch shovel or one-
horse turn plow with the wing removed. Immediately before the
plants are set, the top of the bed is made flat by means of a hoe
or by a board attached to a plow stock and drawn over. the ridge
so the plants will be set'about on a level with the soil surface.
During rainy seasons it is better to set the plants a little above
the level. A marker with projections attached to the perifery at
the desired intervals (10 to 14 inches) is then run down the cen-
ter of the bed to mark the location of the plants. Plants are
dropped at the indicated places and set by hand with dibbles, a
small amount of earth being placed around the roots. Other
laborers follow with water, pouring about one-fourth pint around
(not on) each plant (Fig. 159). Plants of the wrapper type are
always watered, as it is very important to give them a uniform

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

start. The amount of water applied varies with the condition of
the soil. After being set the plants are observed very closely
and replanting is done as soon as it is possible to determine
where fresh plants are needed, usually after about four or five
days. Replants set much later than this are seldom profitable.

Fig. 159.-Tobacco transplanting crew. The plants are set and watered
immediately afterward to secure a uniform start of all plants.

If the weather should be dry and windy, an additional furrow
is run on each side of the row immediately after the plants are set
to prevent rapid drying out of the bed. Otherwise the plants are
left undisturbed for four to six days after they are set. The
first plowing is then made with a two-inch straight plow, scooter,
running one or two furrows on each side of the row and as
close as possible to the plants without disturbing the roots. The
remainder of the middle is plowed out with a wider plow of the
same kind. If the soil becomes packed by heavy rains, another
similar plowing is made. The soil between the plants is stirred
with hoes or potato diggers after the plants have become estab-
lished. Subsequent cultivation is generally very shallow and fre-
quent. It is common practice to cultivate alternate middles at a
time and the entire field is cultivated once each week. Cultivation
is usually discontinued when the plants are ready for topping,
as later cultivation frequently induces speakingg" of the leaves.
Because of the large leaf area and very rapid growth under

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

crowded conditions the plants soon become top heavy and are
easily blown down. Therefore, it is necessary to support the
plants in order to prevent the injury which would result if the
plants were allowed to fall down. When the plants are about 10 to
12 inches high they are "tied up" by looping one end of a three-
ply twine around the stalk near the ground, allowing ample room
in the loop for expansion of the stem, and the other end is tied to
the wire or slat overhead. Once a week the twine is wrapped
around the stalk, the twine passing in a spiral between the
leaves. Figure 160 shows the "tying up" process in progress.
This tying up entails an additional expense in growing the crop
but the extra yield of sound leaves resulting from the process
much more than compensates for the cost of the operation.

Fig. 160.-"Tying up" tobacco. A woman loops the twine around the base
of the stalk and a man ties the other end of the twine to the slats or
wire overhead.

Topping is done about the time the blossom head begins to
emerge and before the blossoms begin to open. The number of
leaves removed with the blossom head varies with weather con-
ditions. As a rule, early or low topping is not desirable, as it
throws too much growth into the leaves, making them coarse
and harsh. If the weather is dry during the early part of the
season, the plants should be topped higher than under normal


Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

Cigar wrapper tobacco, as well as all other types, grown in
Florida is harvested by the "priming" method. As soon as the
first leaves at the bottom of the stalk begin to ripen harvesting
is begun by picking (priming) off the first two or three mer-
chantable leaves at the base of the stalk and transporting them
to the curing barns. Ordinarily, from one to three of the low-
est leaves are worthless and are left on the stalk. Subsequently,
about the same number of leaves are primed each week until
all leaves are removed. More uniform color and quality are ob-
tained when two or three leaves are primed as they are ready
than when a greater number of leaves is removed at a priming.
If four or five leaves are removed at one priming, either the
lower ones will be too ripe or the upper ones will be too green.

Fig. 161.-Priming cigar wrapper tobacco. The tobacco leaves are brought
to the ends of the rows in "pads" and are placed in boxes or on litters
and are covered with burlap or canvas to protect them from the sun-

As the leaves are removed from the plant they are laid on top
of each other in "pads" and passed to a boy who carries them
to the boxes or litters at the end of the rows. The leaves should
never the allowed to touch the ground at any stage of the opera-
tion, as dirt will adhere to them and impair their value. If the

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

shades are close to the curing barns, the leaves are placed in
boxes and drawn to the barn with mules. (Fig. 161.) When the
shades and barns are more distantly separated the leaves are
stacked on burlap covered litters and these are hauled to the
barn on wagons. The leaves are covered with burlap or canvas
to protect them from the sun and are carried to the barn as
quickly as possible.

Fig. 162.-Interior view of a cigar wrapper tobacco curing barn, showing
arrangement of the tier poles and the manner of placing sticks of to-
bacco on them.

At the barns the leaves are placed on tables and strung in
bead-like fashion on 10-ply twine by means of large needles.
About 30 leaves are placed on each string, face to face and back
to back. This arrangement is employed to prevent the leaves
from folding over and sticking to each other during the curing
process. Each end of the string is fastened to the ends of a
heavy 52-inch lath and the leaves are evenly distributed along
the string. The laths, or sticks as they are called, are then hung
on the tier poles about four to six inches apart, where they re-
main until the leaves are cured. (Fig. 162.) Three vents, about
12 inches wide, should be left between the sticks the entire
length and height of the barn in order to secure free circulation
of air among the tobacco leaves. One of these vents is left

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

through the center of the barn and one on each side of the mid-
dle aisle or hall.
Each priming is treated in a similar manner and the leaves
from each priming are kept separate through the curing and
packing processes. After the leaves are hung in the barn, pro-
vided they are free of dew or rain, the ventilation is regulated in
such a manner as to wilt the leaves in 36 to 48 hours. It is fre-
quently necessary to induce wilting through the use of charcoal
fires, but the fires should never be started until all of the water
has dripped off, as firing when there is water on the leaves will
cause scalding or staining. It is better to have many small fires
evenly distributed over the barn than a few large ones.
After the leaves have wilted successfully they are observed
closely and an effort is made to keep the curing process continu-
ing in an uninterrupted manner. It is very essential that the
leaves not be dried out too rapidly, if the desired color and qual-
ity are to be obtained. During rainy or cloudy weather it is nec-
essary to "fire" the barns in order to prevent stem rot and shed
burn, or pole burn, as it is called in some districts.
Thus, it is seen that the manipulation of the curing barns is
governed entirely by weather conditions and the nature of the
tobacco, and no fixed rules can be given. The two important
points to consider in curing cigar wrapper tobacco are to prevent
too rapid curing and at the same time prevent pole burn and
stem rot. After the curing process is well under way, best re-
sults are generally obtained by allowing the tobacco to become
fairly moist during the night and then drying it out rather thor-
oughly during the day.
When the stems or midribs are thoroughly cured the leaves
are ready to be taken to the packinghouse. Before the leaves
can be handled, however, they must be allowed to come in proper
condition, or in "case"; that is, soft and pliable. This condition-
ing process is obtained by leaving all places of ventilation open
at night, unless the atmosphere is very humid. It is very im-
portant that the leaves not be in too high case, as the tempera-
ture will rise too high and the color will become too dark dur-
ing the fermentation or sweating process. On the other hand,
if the leaves are in too low case, the temperature will not rise
sufficiently high to give the proper amount of fermentation.
On the morning the tobacco is to be removed from the barn
all doors and windows are closed early to prevent drying out of

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

the leaves. The sticks are then taken down, the strings cut loose
from the sticks, the leaves are drawn together in the middle of
the string and tied by wrapping the free ends of the string
around the stems about one inch from the ends. Each of these
bundles of leaves is called a "hand." The hands are then packed
in boxes and delivered to the packinghouse. This ends the work
of the grower.
Upon arrival at the packing house the tobacco is removed from
the boxes and made into bulks of from 4,000 to 6,000 pounds.
Each priming is bulked separately and when there is not a suf-
ficient amount of tobacco in one priming for a bulk, strings are
stretched across the bulk to separate the two primings. A plat-
form made of matched lumber and raised about four inches from
the floor is provided for each bulk. For convenience in handling,
the platform is usually made in four units, each unit being three
feet wide and six feet long. The platform is assembled by placing
two units parallel to each other and one unit at right angles to
these at the ends, making the platform 6 feet wide and 12 feet
long. When a small amount of tobacco is to be bulked one or
both of the end units is left off. The whole platform is covered
with heavy paper or loose leaves, if available, and is then ready
for the tobacco to be placed on it.
The bulk is begun by laying the outer row, one hand overlap-
ping the other, along the outer edge of the platform, placing the
butts of the hands even with the edge of the platform and al-
lowing the tips to point toward the center. Another row is begun
in a manner similar to the first, leaving about one-third to one-
half of the first row of hands uncovered, with the tips pointing
toward the center. (Some packers prefer to lay two rows at a
time.) Other rows are laid in the same manner until the space
in the center is filled. The second layer (rim) is made in the
same manner as the first, and this process is continued until
the bulk has reached a height of four to six feet or until from
4,000 to 6,000 pounds of tobacco have been bulked. When the
bulk is about half completed a piece of perforated tin pipe about
three feet long is placed across the bulk at right angles to the
long sides and with the outer end flush with the edge of the
bulk. A thermometer is inserted in this tube to assist in judging
the progress of fermentation. When the bulk is completed the

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

top should be covered with heavy paper, burlap, or heavy canvas
to prevent drying out of the outer surfaces and to help maintain
an even temperature.
The temperature of the room in which the bulking is done
should be maintained at from 75 to 85 degrees F. and the rela-
tive humidity should not be allowed to fall below 70 percent. For

Fig. 163.-Record of changes of temperature occurring in a bulk of cigar
wrapper tobacco between the first and second turnings. The tobacco had
29 percent moisture when first bulked and was considered to be in prop-
er case for fermenting.

best results the tobacco should contain from 28 to 32 percent
moisture at the time it is first bulked. With this percentage of
moisture the temperature of the bulk will rise to 118 to 122 de-
grees F. in about six or seven days. Figures 163 and 164 show
the changes in temperature which occurred in two bulks of to-
bacco with 29 percent and 34.5 percent moisture, respectively,

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

during the period between the first and second turnings. If the
percentage of moisture is higher than 32, the temperature of
the bulk will rise higher and the tobacco will turn dark if the
bulk is not turned as soon as the temperature reaches the dan-
ger point. The rate of increase and the maximum temperature
attained varies widely with the condition of the tobacco when

Fig. 164.-Record of changes in temperature occurring in a bulk of cigar
wrapper tobacco between the first and second turnings. The tobacco had
34.5 percent moisture when first bulked and was considered to be in too
high case for most satisfactory fermenting.

bulked, the different primings and the temperature of the room.
Consequently, no fixed rule can be given as to the number of
days the tobacco should be allowed to remain in the bulk before
When the bulk is ready for turning or rebulking one or two of
the top layers are removed and placed in boxes and set to one

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

side. The next layer is then removed and used as the bottom lay-
er of the new bulk, placing the center rows of the layer on the
outside row of the new bulk. This is the logical order, as the rows
have to be removed in reverse order of laying; that is, the last
row played is the first row to be taken up. This process is contin-
ued until the old bulk is about half removed. Then the tobacco
which was removed from the top and placed in boxes is placed
in the middle of the new bulk. The boxes are refilled with tobacco
from the center of the old bulk and set to one side for placing
on top of the new bulk. The remainder of the old bulk is then
transferred to the new one, and the tobacco placed in the boxes
from the center of the bulk is placed on top. Thus, the top and
bottom of the old bulk become a part of the center of the new
one, and the outside rows of the old bulk become the center
rows of the new one. When top leaves or loose leaves are avail-
able these may be used for the bottom and top layers instead of
interchanging the better grades of leaf as explained above.
The time required for the tobacco to remain in the bulk be-
fore being turned the second time is usually longer than that
required for the first, but the exact number of days it should re-
main can be determined only by watching the thermometer and
condition of the tobacco. It is considered advisable to turn the
bulk as soon as the temperature begins to drop even though it
never reached the temperature desired. Furthermore, the leaves
of cigar wrapper tobacco are never sprayed with water in order
to force the fermentation. Such treatment darkens the leaves
and frequently impairs the elasticity.
It is usually necessary to turn the bulk from three to five
times before the fermentation is completed. The fermentation
of tobacco is considered finished when little rise in temperature
occurs after the tobacco has been rebulked, and when the leaves
appear to be free of gum and harshness. When this condition
has been attained the tobacco is packed in cases and stored for
sorting and selecting. If properly fermented, tobacco will keep
for months without impairing the quality when stored in this
The process of sorting and selecting the leaves is begun im-
mediately after the fermentation has been completed. When the
leaves are finally removed from the bulk they are too dry to be

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

opened up for examination of color and texture. Therefore, the
first step is to "case" them. This is accomplished by moistening
the leaves lightly with a fine spray of water and repacking them
in boxes for 12 to 24 hours. The strings are then cut and the
leaves are placed on the tables and sorted into different grades
for soundness and weight. More skilled laborers then select the
leaves for different shades of color. It is customary to make from
6 to 15 grades, depending upon the uniformity of the leaves
and the demands of the trade.

Fig. 165.-Bales of cigar wrapper tobacco showing method of preparing the
leaf for shipment. The bales of finer grades are placed in wooden boxes
to prevent damage in transit.

After having been graded the leaves of the same grade and
length are retied into hands of about 30 leaves each and rebulked
to undergo further fermentation and drying out. The tempera-
ture of the bulk usually does not rise as high as it did before
the leaves were graded, but the bulk is turned when needed
until the leaves have dried out sufficiently for baling. The num-
ber of times the bulk should be turned depends upon the amount
of moisture in the tobacco and how rapidly it dries out.
When the tobacco has dried out sufficiently it is pressed into
bales about 32" x 12" x 12" in dimensions. The average weight
of a bale is about 180 pounds. Each length of the different
grades is baled separately, except when there is not enough of a
given length of one grade to make a bale. In such cases two or
more lengths of the same grade may be baled together. The bales

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

are first covered with heavy waxed paper and an East India cane
mat is sewed over this and then the bale is usually tied with a
rope. Before being shipped bales of the better grades of tobacco
are covered with burlap and placed in wooden boxes. Figure 165
shows the method of preparing the bales for shipment.
The value of a crop of any type of tobacco is determined by
the quality of leaf. With a given yield per acre, the higher the
percentage of leaves of the best quality the greater is the value
of the crop. On the other hand, if a high percentage of the leaves
is of inferior quality or if the quality is quite variable, the value
of the crop is proportionately low. The cost of sorting the leaves
of a variable crop into their respective grades for market is
greater than the cost for sorting a uniform crop and this expense
must be borne directly or indirectly by the grower. Thus, from
a practical standpoint, there is no more important problem in
tobacco culture than the production of uniform crops.
Careful selection of the seed plants is one very important step
in the production of uniform quality of tobacco from year to
year. It has already been stated that climate, soil, fertilizers,
and methods of cultivation affect the quality of tobacco to a
marked degree. These factors may also affect the shape, size and
time of ripening of the leaves. It has been observed frequently
(12, 13) that uniform types of tobacco, when introduced into
new countries or new localities with different climatic and soil
conditions, break up into a number of different types, some of
which are desirable, while others may be very undesirable. This
explains why many growers in certain localities have met with
failure in their attempts to grow an imported type of tobacco
on an extensive scale without first having ascertained the effect
of the change of conditions on the quality. Furthermore, any
local type of tobacco is subject to breaking up to some extent
when grown on different soils and with different cultural meth-
ods in the same section.
Once different types have appeared in a field, there is oppor-
tunity for continued and even wider variation unless great care
is exercised in the selection of seed plants. One of the principal
causes of lack of uniformity in tobacco in any locality is cross-
fertilization. Seed resulting from cross-fertilization produce
many plants unlike either parent. The number of different types

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

resulting from the cross depends upon the degree of similarity
of the parents. Such seed are undesirable for planting the gen-
eral crop when uniformity is such an important factor.
The practice of setting aside a row or section of a field for seed
without any regard for the type of plants in the plot will never
enable one to produce a uniform quality of tobacco. As a rule,
the best type of plants or the ones resistant to disease never
occur in groups in a field planted with a mixed or ununiform
type of tobacco. The desirable type of plants should be sought
after before the flowers develop and marked conspicuously so
they can be easily detected when the others are topped. If one
section of a field is left for seed, it should be large enough to
provide a sufficient number of plants of the desirable type.
Under cloth shades which exclude insects and humming birds
there is little chance of cross-fertilization, as tobacco is self-
pollinated. On the other hand, when tobacco is grown under slat
shades or in the open there is likely to be a considerable amount
of cross-fertilization unless the flowers are protected. Under
these conditions the flowers should be covered with a 12-pound
manila paper bag just before the flowers open. Before the bag
is tied on all the flower branches and small leaves just below
the main flower head should be removed. In order to avoid any
possible injury to the flowers through excessive heat, the bags
may be perforated with a large number of fine holes. The most
expedient method for making the perforations is with a sewing
machine, using an unthreaded needle. On account of the rapid
growth of the plant the string should be loosened and the bag
pushed up on the stalk after three or four days. Also, the bag
should be removed two or three times afterward to shake out
the dead flowers which will hang on the seed pods and cause
them to rot during rainy weather. If rains are too frequent for
the bags to dry out between showers, the bags may be removed
as soon as all the flowers have shed. Any flowers developing
later should be broken off.
Except under these extreme conditions, the bags may be left
on until the seed heads have been harvested and are ready for
threshing out the seed. The bags will prevent the loss of a great
many seed during harvest. They will also protect the seed pods
from the ravages of budworms. Budworms are usually very
numerous at the time the plants are in flower and some of the
poison mixture arsenatee of lead and corn meal) should be

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

sprinkled on the flower head before the bag is tied on the plant.
The uniformity of type and quality of tobacco can be further
improved by planting only the heavy and well developed seed.
There are simple and relatively cheap machines for separating
the light from the heavy seed, and the seed should always be
separated regardless of the care with which the seed plants
were selected and protected in the field. Experiments with light
and heavy seed have shown conclusively that the plants from
heavy seed grow more vigorously and show a greater uniformity
in the field and packinghouse than plants produced from light
inferior seed (12, 13).
The full advantage of selecting the seed plants and separat-
ing the seed can not be realized until the leaves of the selected
plants are followed through the packinghouse. It is difficult or
impossible to determine in the field what the quality of the cured
leaf will be. Therefore, unless the leaves are carried through
the packinghouse so the cured leaf can be inspected for quality,
there is even a possibility of impairing the quality through selec-
tion. Thus, it is advisable to keep some of the leaves of the se-
lected plants separate through the curing and packing operations
so the quality can be judged before the seed are planted for the
general crop. Through careful selection there is also possibility
for increasing the resistance of tobacco to a number of diseases.
For these reasons each grower should select and save seed
each year from his own farm.

Artificial shade for tobacco fields consists of a wire frame sup-
ported by posts to which the shade material is attached. The
arrangement of the wires for the frame depends upon the kind
of shade material to be used. There are three types of shades
in use in the Quincy section-lath, or slat shade, as it is called;
cloth shade; and a combination of cloth and slat. Cloth walls
are put up around shades of all three types to protect the tobacco
from strong winds and insects.
Although the initial cost of constructing a cloth shade is less,
the rate of depreciation is greater. One or two seasons is as long
as cloth can be used with safety overhead, although it may be
used a third time for walls. Consequently, cloth is most expen-
sive, except where tobacco is grown on land for only one year.
Since the introduction of the disease known as black shank of

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

tobacco, which made it unprofitable to grow the local type of
tobacco on the same fields for two or more years in succession,
cloth shades have been used very generally. The slat and com-
bination shades are said to produce a better quality of leaf than
the cloth alone, especially during dry seasons.
The cloth used for the shades is made especially for the pur-
pose, and consists of relatively coarse, loosely woven threads and
is reinforced at intervals with crossbars of closer mesh. It is
woven in strips three feet wide and these strips are sewed to-
gether at the factory to make any width desired that is a mul-
tiple of three feet. Twenty-seven and 30 foot widths are most
commonly used for the construction of shades where cloth is
used alone. When used in combination with slats the cloth is
purchased in the proper widths to fit between the rows of posts.

: .\ ..; : ,.. .:..

Fig. 166.-Drawing showing details of construction of wire frame for
cloth shade.

If cloth 30 feet wide is used, the posts are set 30 feet apart
each way in the field and 15 feet apart in the outside rows. Each
post in the outside row is anchored by means of a No. 4 wire at-
tached to a piece of wood buried in the ground. The piece of
wood used for the anchor or "dead man" should be about three
feet long and six to eight inches in diameter and buried three
feet in the ground eight feet from the post. After the outside
posts are securely anchored, number six wire is then stretched
over the tops of the posts in the field in each direction. The ends

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

are wrapped around the outside posts and secured to the tops
of the posts in between with two-inch staples and a piece of
wire formed into the shape of the letter S. One end of the S is
hooked over the wire and the other stapled to the post. A No. 10
wire is then stretched midway between the rows of posts in the
direction the sheets of cloth are to extend, passing it over the
top of the No. 6 wire which extends in the opposite direction.
Two No. 6 wires are then stretched around and secured to the
top of the outside row of posts and one No. 6 wire is stretched
around the posts at the ground and fastened only at the ends
until after the wall cloth is put up. The overhead cloth is sewed
to one of the top wires and the wall cloth to the other. Figure
166 shows the posts and wire frame in readiness to receive the
After the wire framework has been completed and shortly
before the tobacco is ready to be transplanted the cloth is
stretched over the wire frame and the ends are sewed to the
outside wire with 10-ply twine. The selvage of the two pieces of
cloth are brought together at the post rows and sewed to the
No. 6 wire which extends in the direction of the length of the
cloth. After the cloth has been put in place No. 14 wire is
stretched underneath the cloth and frame at right angles to the
sheets of cloth. These wires are anchored to the frame wires
with hog rings. They are placed immediately above the plant
rows, and serve a dual purpose of helping support the cloth and
also as a means for attaching the strings that are used in ty-
ing up the plants. As soon as the tobacco crop has been har-
vested the cloth is taken down dry and stored in a dry place.
In the construction of slat shades the posts are set and
anchored in the same manner as those for cloth shades. How-
ever, because of the greater weight of the slats it is necessary
to use stronger posts and to set them closer together. The post
rows are always spaced so they will be in a row of tobacco. Con-
sequently, it is customary to place them 18 by 221/2 feet or 131/2
by 27 feet. The outside row of posts on two sides of the shade
are set 131/2 or 18 feet apart, according to preference, and 2 feet
or 4 feet on the other two sides. When the posts are set 4 feet
apart either doubled No. 4 wire or doubled 2" by 6" timbers
are secured to the top of the posts for attaching the wires which
come between the posts. Number 4 wire is then stretched over
the tops of the posts in rows 131/2 or 18 feet apart and secured

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

to them with staples. These are known as "stringer" wires.
Number 8 and No. 12 wires are then stretched two feet apart
on top of the stringer wires and alternated so that the ends of
the slats will rest on the No. 8 wires and the No. 12 will be under
the middle of the slats. These wires are' secured at the ends by
wrapping them around the top of the posts. The slats are then
laid on the wires and secured to the No. 8 wires by double wrap-
ping with No. 22 wire. The slats are about one and one-half

Fig. 167.-Exterior view of cigar wrapper tobacco curing barn, showing
one method used for ventilation.

inches wide and are spaced from three to six inches apart, de-
pending upon whether cloth is to be used in combination. The
number of posts and the amount of the different sizes of wire
required per acre varies with the shape and size of the field over
which the shade is to be constructed. Likewise, the cost of labor
for construction will also vary somewhat. Ordinarily 500 pounds
of No. 4, 800 pounds of No. 8, 400 pounds of No. 12 and 75
pounds of No. 22 are considered as the necessary amounts re-
The slats most generally used are 52-inch plaster lath. When
48-inch lath is used it is necessary to place the slat wires (No.
8 and No. 12) 22 inches apart instead of 24.
When a combination shade is desired, cloth is stretched under-

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

neath the slats and supported by No. 14 wire. This wire is placed
immediately above the plant row and is also used for attaching
the strings in tying up the plants. Cloth of the same width as

Fig. 168.-Exterior view of cigar wrapper tobacco curing barn, showing a.
second method of ventilation, which is preferred by many of the growers.

Fig. 169.-Drawing of a cross-section of a cigar wrapper tobacco curing
barn, showing details of construction.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

the rows of post is used and sheets are sewed together at the
edges before being raised overhead.


The curing barns for cigar wrapper and cigar filler tobacco,
as used in this section, vary in length from 100 feet to 140 feet,
are 40 feet wide and from 18 to 22 feet at the eaves. The walls
are made of close fitting siding and are provided with abundant
ventilation. Two kinds of ventilators are used; one kind consists
of windows 31/2 feet by 12 feet, hinged at the top so they will
open out from the bottom (Fig. 167) ; the other consists of 8 or 10
inch boards about 10 or 12 feet long hinged at the top edge, ex-
tending horizontally. These boards are spaced vertically about
three feet apart and are attached to a pole or strip so all boards
of one section may be opened or closed as desired (Fig. 168). A
wide door is provided at each end of the barn and a hallway
extends through the center. The framework is securely braced
throughout. Tier-poles are placed 4 feet apart in a horizontal
direction and 24 to 30 inches vertically, beginning about 6 feet
from the ground and extending to a point about 6 feet from
the peak of the roof. Figure 169 shows a cross section of a barn.


Cigar wrapper tobacco is the most intensive annual farm crop
grown on any considerable acreage in Florida. It is grown as a
cash crop and has a high value per acre. The costs of producing
this type of tobacco vary not only on different farms for a par-
ticular season, but also on the same farm from year to year.
Such variations may be due to fluctuations in the price of shade
materials and fertilizers, and to unfavorable weather conditions,
to diseases, and to the management of the operator. The varia-
tions in the cost of producing a pound of tobacco are necessarily
due to variations in the cost per acre and in the yield obtained.
In other words, the total cost per acre may be about the same
for two farms, yet the difference in yield per acre on the two
farms may make a considerable difference in the cost per pound
of tobacco.
Aside from the livestock, curing barns and steam boilers, the
principal items of cost in the production of cigar wrapper tobacco
under shade are shade materials, fertilizer, labor, insect poisons,

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

tools and twine. The present cost of a curing barn of standard
size is approximately $2,000. Slat shades, including the cost of
labor for construction, cost about $500 per acre. On account of
the high cost this kind of shade is seldom constructed on land
which is to be planted to tobacco for only one year.
The cost of steam boilers and irrigation equipment for plant
beds varies widely with the kind and size of the boiler and with
the size of the bed to be irrigated. The cost of constructing cloth
shades is also relatively high, especially when the cost is charged
against only one crop of tobacco, as is usually done. It is general
practice not to use cloth overhead for more than one crop. How-
ever, with favorable weather conditions and when the cloth is
handled carefully, it may be used overhead the second year al-
though it is usually used the second year for making the shade
The cost of the fertilizer for shade tobacco is a big item of
the total cost of production. Since shade tobacco is grown mostly
on the sandy or sandy loam soils which are not naturally very
fertile, resort is made to exceedingly heavy applications of stable
manure and commercial fertilizer. The immediate effect of this
highly intensive one-crop system is to give large yields of good
quality. However, during recent years it has become general
practice to grow only one crop of tobacco in a several-year rota-
tion system. This leaves the land in a fertile condition for truck
crops or corn.
The labor requirements for shade tobacco are large, especial-
ly at certain seasons of the year. While not all land on the farms
may be equally adapted to tobacco culture, there are possibili-
ties for expansion if demand and prices should justify the shift-
ing of labor and land from other crops to tobacco. Most of the
tobacco farms grow enough corn and hay for the livestock and
during recent years many of them have been growing some
truck crops for market. The laborers are given gardens and
some grow certain crops on shares, cultivating these crops at
periods when there is less need for them in the tobacco fields.
The average cost per acre of producing tobacco under cloth
shade on the larger farms in 1927 has been estimated as follows:
Shade materials and labor for construction............$225.00
Fertilizers .. .......................... ....................... 135.00
Labor-Culti'vation. harvesting, curing ........................... 200.00
Insect poisons, tools, twine, charcoal ........................... 50.00


Floiida A., 1i ni,,Alfi Experiment Station

The cost of production on the smaller farms may be consid-
erably below 1 he above figure, especially where the stable man-
ure used is produced on the farm and when little or none of the
labor is hired. It is difficult or impossible to obtain accurate fig-
ures on the cost of production on these small farms, as many of
the farmers never keep complete records. The yield of tobacco
per acre under shade varies from 700 to 1,500 pounds. As a rule,
the best quality is associated with the highest yields.

The methods previously described for the preparation and
care of seedbeds, harvesting and curing of shade or wrapper to-
bacco are commonly used for the sun-grown filler type of tobac-
co. The type of soil adapted to the production of this type of
tobacco has also been di-cL.--ed on page 385. Filler leaf tobacco
is usually grown on a smaller acre basis per farm than the wrap-
per type. Little or none of this type of tobacco is being grown
at present by large companies, except under contract. Cultural
methods differ principally from those described for the wrapper
type in that the plants are spaced a little farther apart in the
field and are topped lower so as to obtain a heavier leaf, and the
leaves are allowed to become a little riper before they are har-
vested. Since filler leaf commands a lower price than wrapper
leaf, and since mechanical soundness of the leaf is not so essen-
tial, less intensive methods of cultivation are followed.


Even on the most .desirable type of soil the qualities of filler
tobacco can be greatly affected by the kind iad amount of fer-
tilizer applied, as is true with other types of tobacco. As a rule,
smaller amounts of fertilizer are r, quired to grow a large yield
of fine quality filler leaf than are required for \wrapper, but the
source of the fertilizer ingredients should be the same.
All three of the main fertilizer ingredients-ammonia, phos-
phoric acid and potash-are essential. Experience of growers
and packers of this type of tobacco indicates that 215 pounds of
ammonia, 140 pounds of phosphoric acid and 160 pounds of pot-
ash give best results under average conditions. However, most
of the growers use lighter applications. Approximately these
amounts of the three ingredients are contained in 10 tons of

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

stable manure, 1,000 pounds of cottonseed meal and 1,000
pounds of a mixture containing 4 percent ammonia, 6 percent
phosphoric acid and 5 percent potash. Approximately the same
amounts would also be contained in 5 tons of stable manure,
1,000 pounds of cottonseed meal and 2,000 pounds of the 4-6-5
The source of the plant nutrients is also an important factor
in the production of the filler leaf of good quality. Manure is
considered essential, as for wrapper leaf. Cottonseed meal and
castor pomace are considered the best sources of ammonia. Al-
though a few growers use some superphosphate (acid phos-
phate) as a source of phosphoric acid, it is believed by most
growers that this source of phosphoric acid has an injurious ef-
fect on the quality of leaf. Bone flour and precipitated bone meal
have been found to produce a more satisfactory quality. 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 the carbonate; others condemn it. Where
the land is cropped to tobacco continuously for several years,
there may be an advantage in changing the form of potash as
well as the nitrogen. Muriate of potash or kainit should not be
used, as the chlorine which they contain injures the burning
qualities of the leaf.

Cigar filler tobacco is primed and cured in the same manner
as the wrapper leaf. On account of being heavier and containing
more "gum," filler leaf requires more sweating or fermentation
than the wrapper type. In order to produce this condition the
hands are untied and the loose leaves are piled into large bulks
ranging from 20,000 to 40,000 pounds each. At the first or sec-
ond turning two or three of the bulks may be combined into one.
It is usually necessary to spray the leaves with water when the
bulk is being turned in order to force the fermentation. This
treatment, of course, causes the leaf to become dark but the
color does not detract from its value. The temperature of the
bulks treated in this manner ranges from 130 to 1600 F. The
size of the bulk and the method of handling vary with the na-
ture and condition of the tobacco and no set rules can be given.
After the fermentation has been completed the leaves are
stripped, dried and made into bales ready for shipment.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station


The type of soil adapted to the production of bright or flue-
cured tobacco has been discussed earlier in the bulletin. Also,
the methods described for preparation and care of seedbeds for
cigar wrapper tobacco are equally applicable for this type of
tobacco, except that only 50 square yards of bed space are con-
sidered sufficient for each acre of land to be set with bright to-
bacco. Each farmer usually grows a relatively small acreage of
bright tobacco and the beds are accordingly small. The beds are
usually made on new land, covered low, and the seed is planted a
little earlier than the cigar leaf type.


Aside from the natural character of the soil itself, the man-
agement of the fields should be so adjusted that in regular order
they will be in the best condition for tobacco at the proper time.
The quality of the tobacco produced will depend quite as much
on how the fields have been handled in rotation between suc-
cessive crops of tobacco as upon the fertilizer used or upon the
cultivation of the tobacco crop itself (8).
Tobacco land should be handled in such a manner as to keep
it in good life. A certain amount of vegetable matter in an ad-
vanced stage of decay is desirable, but it should not be exces-
sively rich in ammonia. Therefore, as a rule, clovers, cowpeas,
and other legumes should not be used immediately preceding
tobacco. It has been established that the organic matter of
broom sedge fields is well suited for bright tobacco (8). How-
ever, allowing the land to remain idle for a period of years is
not considered a profitable farm practice.
The crops which may be used profitably in rotation with
bright tobacco will naturally differ in different localities, and it
is impractical to give any rotation plan adapted to the needs of
all tobacco farms. Under no circumstances should a crop which
supplies a large amount of slowly decaying vegetable matter be
grown immediately preceding tobacco. In many sections rye
and oats are a satisfactory source of organic matter, either
when the crop is turned under green or when cut for grain and
the land left idle for the remainder of the year. When used as
a green manure crop rye or oats should be planted early in the
fall and turned under early in February so the growth will have


Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

:ample time to decay and also to avoid, as far as possible, infesta-
tion of the land with cutworms. In localities where crops are
grown which require liberal amounts of fertilizer and there is a
tendency to make the soil too rich for tobacco, corn could prob-
ably be grown to good advantage immediately preceding tobacco.
However, it has been reported (6) that the yield of tobacco after
,corn is not always satisfactory in certain localities. It has been
found satisfactory in certain localities to grow two or three
-crops of corn and velvet beans or peanuts on the land and follow
with a crop of oats immediately preceding the tobacco. The
land in this case is left idle and pastured after the oats are cut.
Whatever crops are used in rotation with bright tobacco, an
,effort should be made to prevent multiplication of the root-knot
nematode in fields to be planted to tobacco. Root-knot is a seri-
ous disease of bright tobacco and it may cause total loss of the
Crop on heavily infested soil. Since many of the weeds commonly
found in cultivated fields are susceptible to root-knot, a system
of rotation should be adopted, so far as practical, in which crops
resistant to root-knot will be planted on the tobacco land and
:at the same time permit of clean cultivation. Possibilities for
controlling root-knot of bright tobacco have been discussed in
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Press Bulletin No. 401.

Land to be planted to bright tobacco should be broken in the
fall in order to give ample time for the vegetation to decay. If
there is any indication that the land is infested with the root-
knot nematode, the date of breaking should be as early as pos-
sible. Such land should also be broken several times during the
:fall and winter, to keep down all weeds and to prevent the forma-
tion of a crust on the surface.
During recent years it has been found profitable to use from
two to four two-horse wagon loads of stable manure per acre
*on land that is deficient in humus. When manure is used it is
,distributed uniformly in the row considerably in advance of
the date for setting the tobacco, so it will have time to decom-
Commercial fertilizer should be applied at least 10 to 14 days
before the plants are set. This will give time for the plant food
to become available for the plants when they are transplanted
zand will also avoid possible injury to the roots. Ordinarily, very

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

little of the fertilizer ingredients will be lost through leaching in
this time. The fertilizer is applied evenly in the row with a dis-
tributor or by hand. Some farmers prefer to throw two furrows
away from the row with a turn plow, leaving a balk where the
row is to be, and then distribute the fertilizer on the balk. The
balk is then broken out with a sweep or other suitable imple-
ment for mixing the fertilizer with the soil. If the fertilizer is
applied in the open furrow, it should be mixed with the soil by
running a harrow or plow through it. The best method to use
will depend upon previous treatment of the land. A broad two-
furrow bed is then thrown up with a turn plow. After the bed
is made the land is left until the plants are ready to set.


Experience has shown that it is useless to attempt to grow
profitable crops of bright tobacco without the use of commercial
fertilizers. However, the proper rate of application of fertilizer
of a given analysis for maximum yield and value necessarily
varies for different soils and conditions and can be determined
only within wide limits (9). It has been demonstrated that each
of the three ingredients-ammonia, phosphoric acid and pot-
ash-are essential for the production of the desired quality of
leaf in the Southern states. An excess of fertilizer, especially
one high in ammonia, should be avoided, as such fertilization
produces a high yield of an undesirable quality of leaf.
In order for the tobacco crop to be most profitable, yield and
quality must balance. Therefore, it is necessary to know the pre-
vious treatment and natural fertility of the soil before fertilizers
can be applied intelligently. The commercial fertilizers found to
be most profitable in the southern part of Georgia and the north-
ern part of Florida analyze from 3 to 4 percent ammonia, 8 to
10 percent phosphoric acid, and 5 to 6 percent potash. In other
sections different analyses give better results. As a rule, light
sandy soils which are low in humus should not receive heavy
applications of phosphoric acid, 'as it may cause premature ripen-
ing of the leaves.
The most general rate of applying commercial fertilizer of
the above analysis is 1,000 pounds per acre in Georgia and Flor-
ida. In certain localities and on certain farms of a given locality
larger or smaller amounts have proved more profitable. During
recent years it has been demonstrated that heavier applications

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

are more profitable when the tobacco can be transplanted early
and given proper cultivation. However, some of these factors are
beyond the control of the farmer, and it is considered better to
apply too little rather than too much fertilizer.


Cottonseed meal has proved to be a good source of ammonia
for the lighter soils, but it is not so good on the heavier soils
when used as the only source of ammonia. A mixture in which
one-half of the total ammonia is derived from nitrate of soda
and sulphate of ammonia in equal parts and the other half
from cottonseed meal and tankage is considered best for average
conditions. Experience indicates that superphosphate (acid phos-
phate) is the best source of phosphoric acid for bright tobacco.
Sulphate of potash is considered the best source of potash for
general use. It has been reported (9) that equal amounts of
.sulphate and muriate of potash have given larger yields and bet-
ter quality under certain conditions. However, it has not been
determined how extensively the two sources of potash may be
used with good results. Muriate of potash should not be used
.as the only source of potash, as this would give a sufficient
.amount of chlorine to injure the burning quality of leaf.


When the plants are ready to set, the beds made on the fer-
tilizer should be torn down and fresh ones made by turning two
furrows together with a one-horse turn plow. If the land is too
wet for plowing at the time the plants are ready to set, it has
been recommended that the plants be set without reworking
the beds rather than wait for the land to dry out and allow the
plants to grow too large. The bed is put into final condition for
transplanting by dragging down and slightly packing the ridge.
A suitable board attached to a plow stock is frequently used for
this purpose. A plank or log drawn by a mule and long enough
to cover two or more rows at a time may give satisfactory re-
sults. A marker is then run over the center of the bed to mark
the location for the plants.
The plants are dropped on the mark and set with hand dib-
bles. The plants should be watered as promptly as possible in
order to secure a good, even stand over the whole field. If it is

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

necessary to do any replanting, this should be done as soon as
it is possible to determine where fresh plants are needed.
Careful attention should be given the matter of spacing the
plants in the row, as the distance between the plants affects the
yield and quality to a considerable extent. If the plants are too
far apart, the leaves become large and coarse, ripen slowly and
never cure well. Extreme results of wide spacing may be ob-
served in fields where a poor stand has been obtained. The plants.
adjacent to the missing hills, because of increased feeding space
and lack of competition with other plants, are often worthless.
It is customary to space the rows about four feet apart, with
the plants from 20 to 26 inches apart in the row, the distance
apart depending upon the fertility of the soil. Some farmers.
prefer to make every sixth or eighth middle six inches wider
than the others. While harvesting a mule draws the box or slide,.
into which the leaves are placed, through the wider middles.
with less danger of breaking the tobacco in the rows on each
In order to encourage quick and uniform growth it is neces-
sary to keep the soil loose and mellow. There are different meth-
ods employed for accomplishing this, depending upon weather-
conditions and type of soil. The first cultivation is given as soon
as the plants have become established and started growth, usu-
ally after about a week or ten days. As a rule, this cultivation
should be moderately shallow and sufficiently far away from the
plants that the roots will not be disturbed. The soil between the
plants should then be loosened with hoes or potato diggers and
a little fresh earth should be drawn around each plant.
Subsequent cultivations should be made about once a week
until the crop is "laid by." After the plants have grown large
enough so that there is no danger of covering'them up, the land
should be broken deep at least one time. Later cultivation;
should be shallow, unless there are continued heavy rains, work-
ing a little earth toward the plants each time, go that when the
crop is laid by the plants will be on a high ridge. The high ridge
is especially essential during rainy seasons. The proper time to.
discontinue cultivation varies with conditions, which should be
determined by the farmer or demonstrator. As a rule, no fur-
ther cultivation is done after the plants have been topped, but.
under certain conditions later cultivation has proved profitable.

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida


When the plants begin to send up the seed head, "buttoning,"
as it is called, they are ready to be topped. If the growth of the
plants is irregular, it will be necessary to go over the field two
or more times in order to do the topping properly. The main
points which serve as a guide in topping are soil fertility, amount
of fertilizer applied, the season under which the crop has been
grown, and a guess as to what the weather may be after top-
Tobacco is topped for the purpose of forcing the leaves to de-
velop greater size and better quality. By removing the seed pods
the entire food supply is made available for use by the leaves,
thus making all the leaves more uniform in the desirable quali-
ties. The number of leaves which a plant will bring to perfect
development will vary widely, even in the same field. If a plant
is capable of developing from 12 to 16 leaves and it is topped
down to 8 or 10, these leaves will grow too large and coarse and
the value will be correspondingly low. On the other hand, if
more leaves are left on the plant than will develop properly,
they will be small, thin and papery. In general, more leaves are
left on the strong, vigorous plants than on the weaker ones, but
good judgment and experience of the grower are required to
determine the best number of leaves to be left on each plant.

After the plant has been topped suckers begin to grow from
the axils of the upper leaves. These suckers must be broken out
if the full benefit to be derived from topping is to be realized.
Under favorable conditions it may be necessary to break off the
suckers twice a week. In no case should the suckers be allowed
to grow very large before being removed.


Bright tobacco is harvested in Florida by the priming method.
The proper stage of development of the leaves for priming can
be described only in general terms, and the ability to recognize
ripe tobacco can be acquired only through personal experience.
Under normal conditions ripe tobacco is indicated by a thicken-
ing and stiffening of the leaf and a changing of the color to a
lighter shade. During dry weather signs of ripening may be al-

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

most unnoticed until the leaves begin to dry out and turn brown,
on the stalk. On the other hand, with moist, hot weather the
change in color may be very sudden and pronounced. The higher
up the stalk the leaves are, the more pronounced must be the
signs of ripening before they are ready to harvest. Under any
conditions the best quality is obtained when the leaves are
primed as soon as they are ripe enough to cure. After the lower
leaves, "lugs," have been removed, the field needs to be gone
over subsequently about once a week until all the leaves are re-
As the leaves are primed they are placed in "drag boxes" or
low-wheeled trucks and drawn to the curing barns. At the barn
the leaves are strung on sticks as quickly as possible to avoid
severe wilting and are hung in the barn to cure. From three to
five leaves are looped into a hand and the hands are placed on
the sticks alternately, one on one side and the next on the other
side of the stick. The sticks are hung in the barns in such a man-
ner as will permit free circulation of air among the leaves and
around the walls.

Curing bright tobacco is not simply drying out the leaf, but
it involves other important changes in composition which can
take place only under certain favorable conditions (4). It is
forcing the leaves to undergo a process of gradual starvation and
the principal changes must be brought about before the leaf is
killed. Anything which kills the leaf prematurely, such as break-
ing or bruising in harvesting, or very rapid drying, will prevent
good curing.
The nature of the changes occurring in the curing leaf is the
same in all methods of curing, the principal difference being in
the rate and completeness of the changes. When harvested, the
leaf contains a high percentage of water, most of which is lost
during the curing, and the rate of drying or losing this water
has an important effect on the final product. If the leaves were
exposed to the temperature maintained in the barn and no ef-
fort made to regulate the humidity in the barn, the leaves
would dry out very quickly and before the yellow color devel-
oped. Therefore, the principal use of artificial heat is to regu-
late the humidity (4). In order to control the rate of drying,
the temperature in the barn must bear a certain relation to that

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

of the outside air, and the correct difference in temperature in-
side and outside the barn will be influenced by the humidity of
the outside air. For example, in warm weather the temperature
inside the barn must be higher than in cool weather, and in rainy
seasons it must be higher than in dry seasons.
Air is another important factor in controlling the humidity of
the barn; hence it is important that ventilators which can be
readily opened or closed be provided at the bottom and top of
the barn. Saturated air has no drying capacity until its tem-
perature is raised. During the early stages of curing, that is
during the coloring process, it is essential to have a high humid-
ity in the barn, but later when the tobacco is being dried out the
,, \iti .01tA' must be opened so the moisture will pass out of the
barn as it is given off by the leaves. The manipulation of the
ventilators will vary with the nature of the tobacco. For ex-
ample, if the tobacco is light and slow to color but easy to dry,
the ventilators should be kept closed longer and the temperature
raised more gradually than when the tobacco is heavy, easy to
color and hard to dry.
It is desirable that the barn be completely filled with tobacco
in one day and that the fires be started in the furnace as soon as
possible after the barn has been filled. A thermometer is hung
on the lower tier near the center of the barn. The barn is then
shut tight at the top and bottom before the fires are started.
The temperature is raised gradually with slow fires and main-
tained at from 1000 to 105 F. for the first 24 hours, gradually
increasing it to 120 F. by the end of 36 hours. This is done to
develop the desirable yellow color which occurs only at tempera-
tures below 120 F. and in the presence of high humidity. The
change from a green to a yellow color, along with other neces-
sary changes, takes place chiefly while the leaf is still living.
At temperatures above 1200 F. the leaf is rapidly killed.
The yellowing process is the first stage of curing and this is
then followed by "fixing the color." In order to fix the color
successfully the moisture must be removed as fast as it is given
off by the leaf. Therefore, when the coloring is well under way
the ventilators are opened and the temperature is raised gradu-
ally to about 135 to 140 F. at the end of 48 hours after the
fires were started. The temperature is maintained at this degree
until the leaves are dried out, although the stems will still con-
tain moisture. If the temperature is raised too fast or too high

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

while the leaves contain moisture, the leaves will scald or
"sponge," resulting in a poor quality.
After the color has been fixed the final step is to dry out the
stems. This is accomplished by closing the bottom ventilators
and raising the temperature at the rate of 5 degrees an hour
until a temperature of 170 F. has been reached. After running
at this temperature for a few hours the top ventilators are closed
and the temperature kept at 1700 F. until the stems are com-
pletely dried out. A higher temperature is considered unneces-
sary and undesirable.

Fig. 170.-Interior view of bright or flue-cured tobacco warehouse during
a sale.

After the curing has been completed the tobacco should be
removed from the barn as soon as it is in condition for handling
and stored in a suitable place until it is carried to market. The
tobacco is conditioned by leaving the door and ventilators open
at night, and the floor may be sprinkled, if necessary, so that the
tobacco may absorb sufficient moisture for handling without in-
jury. If the leaf can be folded in the hand without breaking the
stem, it is in proper condition to be taken down. It is very ob-
jectionable to pack tobacco away with too much moisture in it,
as it will begin to ferment quickly and undergo serious injury.
On the other hand, when stored in the proper condition the qual-
ity will be improved.

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

When taken from the curing barn tobacco should be stored in
a tight, dark room under a roof that does not leak. It is also de-
sirable that the floor be several feet above the ground and that
the walls be provided with doors and windows so the room can
be ventilated when necessary. The floor should be covered with
clean, dry straw and this covered with burlap or canvas. The
tobacco is then stacked on the bedding in even piles without re-
moving the sticks and with all butts pointing outward. The en-
tire stack or bulk, when finished, is covered with burlap or can-
vas sheets. The bulk should be torn down after about a week or
ten days and rebuilt in order to avoid any injury from mold.
At present the market does not demand that the leaves be
tied or sorted into many grades. The different primings should
be kept separate at all times. When this is done about all the
grading that remains to be done consists of throwing out the
trash, off-color and green leaves and separating the brown or
mahogany leaves from the bright yellow ones. The tobacco is
then hauled to market and sold as loose leaf. This type of tobac-
co is sold at auction on open market. Figure 170 shows an interior
view of one of the warehouses at Quincy.

The type of barn used in curing bright tobacco is compara-
tively simple in construction and of small size. These barns are
frequently built square and vary from 16 to 24 feet, inside
measurement, and 17 or 20 feet high at the eaves. The inside
width is some multiple of 4 feet, as this is the distance between
the tier poles which extend across the barn and receive the
sticks on which the tobacco is hung. The first set of tier poles
is placed about 8 feet above the ground and each succeeding set
21/2 to 3 feet higher.
Flue-curing barns may be built of logs or may be framed struc-
tures. When logs are used the cracks are chinked with mud or
mortar. If frame barns are built, all cracks should be battened or
the walls should be made of double thickness of boards with
paper between. Ventilation is usually provided by leaving small
openings around the bottom of the barn and by small windows
in the gables near the roof, which can be opened when desired.
The heating .-system. deipeidiing upon the size of the barn. con-
sists of one or two small furnaces placed at one end of the barn
and sheet iron flues leading from the furnaces around the in-

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

terior of the barn. The furnaces are built of brick and are usu-
ally about 18 inches wide and 15 to 20 inches high, inside meas-
urement. The length of the furnace is usually determined by the
size of the barn. For example, a barn 16 feet wide would require
a furnace 8 feet long inside of the barn with a projection of
about 18 to 24 inches outside the wall of the barn, and a barn
20 feet wide would require a furnace 10 feet long. The inside



21 2 1

------ ~~ ----------

2 -_ --


-- .'-.

Fig. 171.-Drawing to show the method of arranging the "twin" furnace
and flues in a bright tobacco curing barn. This kind of furnace and
arrangement of flues is considered very satisfactory.

end of the furnace is built so the flue will fit into it. The flues
are made in sections similar to ordinary stove pipe and are usu-
ally 12 inches in diameter. They are arranged in the barns in
different ways, depending upon whether one or two furnaces
are used. The usual arrangement for a two-furnace barn in the
western part of the state is shown in Figure 171. There are other
methods of arrangement in different sections of the country.

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

The flues are gradually elevated from the furnace to insure
proper draft and pass out through the wall at one side of and
about 2 feet above the door of the furnace. Smoke stacks are fit-
ted to the outer ends of the flues and extend to a suitable height
for proper draft. The upper end of the smoke stack is provided
with a hood. Whatever arrangement is used, the flues should
not be placed closer than 18 to 24 inches of the wall of the barn.


In Florida the tobacco plant is attacked by a number of dis-
-eases, some of which become very serious when tobacco is
grown continuously on the same land for two or more years.
The diseases of greatest importance are black shank, root-knot,
root-rot and wildfire. The first three of these diseases are caused
by parasites which live over from year to year in the soil and
are likely to cause more or less trouble every year on farms
which have become infested. Details regarding these diseases
and methods for their control are discussed in Florida Agricul-
tural Experiment Station Bulletins 166 and 179 and Press Bul-
letins 349 and 401.


One of the most troublesome features of tobacco culture in
the state is the control of the numerous insects, which if not
combatted would almost invariably destroy the commercial
value of the crop. Among the more important insects attacking
tobacco are the budworms, hornworms, and flea-beetles. Cut-
worms, grasshoppers and pumpkin bugs are always present but
usually are of minor importance. These insects attack all types
*of tobacco but, because of the purpose for which it is used, the
cigar wrapper tobacco suffers greatest reduction in value from
the injury which they produce. The severity of attacks by these
insects may vary from year to year, but the budworms and horn-
vworms occur in destructive numbers every year. The others are
also present every year but under normal weather conditions the
damage caused by them is usually small. However, when the
right conditions occur and control measures are neglected, the
damage may reach alarming proportions.
The cloth used for walls and overhead covers for cigar wrap-

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

per tobacco is very effective in excluding many of the adult
insects. If the cloth is kept repaired and the openings for the
passage of workmen and farm animals are kept closed when not
in use, the control of the insects will be easier. Great benefit can
also be derived from turning under the tobacco stalks immedi-
ately after the crop is harvested and by employing other sani-
tary measures around the tobacco fields between growing sea-


The eggs from which the budworms hatch are laid by a green-
ish-colored moth on the upper leaves of the tobacco plants. After
hatching, the young worms migrate to the buds where they re-
main and feed on the young leaves. Budworms usually begin to
appear on the plants within 10 days or two weeks after the
plants are set in the fields and from this time until the end of
the growing season eggs and larvae are present in the fields.
The best method reported for controlling the tobacco bud-
worm is to apply to the buds a mixture of corn meal and arsenate
of lead. This poisoned bait is made by mixing thoroughly one
pound of arsenate of lead with 75 pounds of corn meal. A very
small portion of the mixture is dropped into the center of the
bud once or twice a week until the plants have been topped. Two
applications a week are necessary for cigar wrapper tobacco,
and when the mixture is washed out by rain another application
should be made immediately after the plants have dried off. As
a rule, one application a week is sufficient for bright or flue-
cured tobacco.
This method is very effective during normal seasons, but dur-
ing rainy weather it is often impossible to keep enough of the
mixture in the buds to control the insect without causing some
injury to the leaves with the poison. For a detailed discussion
of the life history of the budworm and methods of its control
the reader is referred to U. S. D. A. Farmers' Bulletin No. 1531.


The tobacco hornworm is most troublesome during the latter
part of the growing season, and the control is often complicated
by rainy weather. The hornworm feeds ravenously on the to-
bacco leaves, and each worm may consume several large leaves

Bulletin 198, Tobacco Culture in Florida

between the time the egg hatches and when the worm climbs
down the plant and goes into the pupa stage in the ground.
The hornworm is most easily controlled immediately after the
eggs hatch and the worms begin to feed on the tobacco leaves.
At this time a minimum amount of the poison is required to
kill them. Paris green is considered the most satisfactory poison
for controlling the hornworm on cigar wrapper tobacco. This is
because Paris green can be uniformly distributed on the plants
in small quantities and also because the color of this material is
not conspicuous on the cured leaves.
Paris green is applied at the rate of three-fourths to two
pounds per acre twice a week after the worms begin to appear.
Dust guns made especially for the purpose are used for Paris
green. The lighter applications are made during the latter part
of the growing season and during rainy weather when there is
greater danger of injuring the leaves with the poison. If ap-
plied unevenly or when the leaves are wet with dew or rain, in-
jury will almost invariably develop.
Arsenate of lead is considered best for controlling the horn-
worm on bright leaf and dark tobacco in the southern districts.
Arsenate of lead is safer to use in amounts that will insure con-
trol of the hornworm. Also, there is no serious objection to
small amounts of this white material appearing on the cured
leaves of these types of tobacco. Details concerning the time and
rate of applying the poisons for controlling the hornworm are
given in U. S. D. A. Farmers' Bulletin No. 1356.


The tobacco flea-beetle occurs every year in the northern
part of the state and, under the right conditions and neglect of
control measures, it may cause great damage to cigar wrapper
tobacco. On other types of tobacco the injury caused by this in-
sect is much less serious. The flea-beetle may attack the plants
in the beds and, unless control measures are employed, may re-
main throughout the growing season, increasing in numbers all
the time.
The flea-beetle is difficult to combat and can not be success-
fully controlled by any one method. It appears that the most ef-
fective attack can be made on this insect before the plants are
set in the fields, as they are difficult to poison without injuring

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

the tobacco. The methods recommended for control are: (1)
Locate the plant beds some distance from tobacco fields. (2)
Cover the plant beds with cloth and, if the flea-beetles appear
on the plants, dust the plants 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 the
tobacco stalks immediately after the crop is harvested. (5)
Destroy beetles during the winter by burning over hibernation
places. (6) If tobacco is attacked in the field, use frequent light
applications of Paris green.
Details of the life history of the flea-beetle and methods of
its control are given in U. S. D. A. Farmers' Bulletin No. 1352.

1 DePass, Jas. P. Tobacco. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 19:1-13. 1892.
2 DuPont, Charles. History of the introduction and culture of Cuba to-
bacco in Florida. Proc. Fla. Fruit Growers Assn. 1875. Reprinted
in part in the Florida Historical Society Quarterly. 6:3:145-155.
3 Floyd, Marcus L. Cultivation of cigar leaf tobacco in Florida. U.S.
D.A. Rpt. no. 62:1-21. 1899.
4 Garner, W. W. Tobacco curing. U.S.D.A. Farmers' Bul. 523:1-23. 1922.
5 -- E. G. Moss, H. S. Yohe, F. B. Wilkinson, and O. C. Stine.
History and status of tobacco culture. U.S.D.A. Separate from Year-
book 1922, no. 885:395-468. 1923.
6 ---- W. M. Lunn, and D. E. Brown. Effects of crops on the
yields of succeeding crops in the rotation, with special reference to
tobacco. U.S.D.A. Jour. Agr. Res. 30: 12:1095-1132. 1925.
7 Killebrew, J. B., and Herbert Myrick. Tobacco Leaf. (Text). Orange
Judd Company. New York. 1923.
8 Mathewson, E. H. The culture of flue-cured tobacco. U.S.D.A. Bul.
16:1-36. 1913.
9 Moss, E. G., J. E. McMurtrey, W. N. Lunn, and J. M. Carr. Fertilizer
tests with flue-cured tobacco. U.S.D.A. Tech. Bul. 12:1-58. 1927.
10 Moodie, F. B. The culture of tobacco. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 30:117-
138. 1895.
11 --- Tobacco in Florida. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 38:411-459.
12 Shamel, Archibald D. The improvement of tobacco by breeding and
selection. Reprint from Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture
for 1904. pp. 435-452.
13 Shamel, A. D. and W. W. Cobey. Tobacco breeding. U.S.D.A. B.P.I.
Bul no. 96:1-71. 1907.

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