Cropping Tobacco

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We've been cropping (otherwise known as harvesting) tobacco since July but it seems like every time I had a chance to get in the field to take pictures, Mother Nature decided we needed rain.   She and I finally coordinated schedules this week and I was able to make it to the field while they were cropping.


Let me back up just a bit since I haven't talked about our flue-cured tobacco crop since we planted it (If you missed that post, check it out here). 


Tobacco is grown for it's leaves.  The plant matures from the bottom up so we harvest the bottom leaves, or lugs, first.  Then, moving up the stalk, we harvest cutters, leaves and finally tips.  What this really means is that we crop tobacco four times.


Tobacco can be harvested by hand or using a mechanical harvester.  Either way you harvest, the goal is still the same:  to remove mature leaves from the plant.  We use mechanical harvesters as a rule, but did have to hand pull 7 acres this year because it was to wet to put the machines in the field, unless we wanted to get them stuck.  Here's a picture My Farmer took with his cell phone and sent me. 




 Just because we use machines to harvest doesn't mean all tobacco farmers do.  In fact, two of our closest friends pull all their tobacco by hand.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods so it's great that farmers can choice which method works best for their farm. 


Our machine crops two rows at one time.


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It's hard to explain tobacco cropping using just pictures, so I channeled my inner Steven Speilburg and took a video;





When the box is full, the tobacco is unloaded into a trailer.




It's covered up before the truck pulls out and heads to the shop.  Next step:  barning tobacco.


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