Over the last two weeks I've talked about seeding the greenhouses and mowing tobacco plants. This week I'm recapping moving day as the plants were moved from the greenhouse to the field.
From the Greenhouse....
If you read my post two weeks ago (read it here), then you saw the trays are floating in water. This can make moving day a challenge because pulling 10 trays out will cause all the other trays to scatter like ducks on a pond. So we go high tech, using PVC pipe to to anchor the rows and another piece to push the trays out. The guys grab them from the outside and load the trailer.
...To the Field
Tobacco doesn't like wet feet, which is our way of saying it doesn't grow well in wet soils. So we use a piece of equipment, aptly named a bedder, to make rows or raised beds in the field.
Actually, we bed the rows twice. The first time we do it a few weeks before planting. The rows on the left and right of the tractor have been bedded once and have a rounded top, like a loaf of bread. The second time we add the board to the back of the bedder and run over the rows again, which keeps the beds intact but flattens the top of the bed so we can plant. We re-bed the day before or day of planting.
We pull a setter, which is the piece of equipment used to transplant tobacco, behind a tractor. There are seats for 8 workers and we set 4 rows at a time. Workers put a plant in the clip, or finger, which circles around, sets the plant in the soil, and comes back for refills. The tractor moves at about 1.3 miles per hour, so it's a slow process. When I was sitting in one of those seats, it felt like the machine was going 55 mph. I didn't want to miss any clips!
Sometimes a plant doesn't get set correctly or the worker misses a clip. I know I missed a bunch when I rode on a setter the first time. Workers walk behind with a handful of plants, using a peg (rounded stick) to plant any holes the setter missed.
We started setting tobacco on April 22 and set the last plant just before lunch on Saturday, May 10. After that it was time to go to the house!