Growing and Harvesting Tobacco

The stages involved in growing and harvesting the crop were as follows:

1. Seeds were sown in hot beds at the end of March or the beginning of April. The seeds were mixed with ashes, clay, horse manure and sometimes sulphur to aid germination.

2. Transplanting the crop took place in May. Plants were placed in drills thirty-two inches apart in length and width. The plants were protected by shelter belts of Jerusalem artichokes (six feet high) or hemp. The protection afforded by hemp was ideal and led to a revival of the crop in the county.

3. The next stage involved 'suckering' and 'topping' the plants, a labour-intensive process completed by hand. Both served the same purpose of concentrating growth and increasing the number of leaves.

4. Six to eight weeks after 'topping' the plants were ready for harvesting – nipping off the leaves, hanging them on canes and bringing them to the curing barns.

5. The 'curing' process involved the tobacco being dried and cured over coke fires in purpose built tobacco barns.

 6. The plants were then graded and processed at a rehandling station before being barrelled and sold to the tobacco companies.

Case Studies

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