Blast from the past- old tobacco barn

I never even thought about all that was involved in the curing. It's an art of science. A lot of ventilation, temperature, and humidity control. So the leaves were dried to a certain color/dryness and then water/humidity was added to put a small amount of moisture back in the leaf to make it pliable.
I guess the modern way would be to use a humidifier. Did ya'll use fans in the curing process or open/close doors dampers? Wet bulb/dry bulb thermometer? I guess it would be similar to a meat smoker in some ways but a lot more complicated. Some HVAC type implications of ventilation, temperature, and humidity.

So eventually this tobacco reaches the warehouse and the buyers inspect it. I would think they have did this long enough to know what to look for. The right color, touch, smell? This being what they price the sheet. Making sure the leaves don't have spots or rot?

I do remember how much lighter a stick of cured tobacco was compared to a green wet stick.
Yeah, the tobacco had to be "in case" as we called it here, or the leaves would disintegrate when you went to work with them. The burley that we grew is a much different process than y'all's flue-cured, I guess.

We cut the whole stalk and used a spud (sharp metal cone) to impale the stalk on the stick that you drove up in the ground in the field. Depending on the size of the plants, you'd get about 5-7 stalks of 'backer on a stick. You would leave the sticks standing in the field a couple days, then haul it to the barn and hang the sticks between the tierpoles and let it air-cure.

When it was ready to work up, we would usually get woke up at some point in the middle of the night when it was "in case." (There is usually fog almost every night in the fall here in the mountains, and it would dampen it down enough to work, but it would usually be after midnight.)

Then you would take the stalks off the sticks, and pull all the leaves off the stalks and tie them into "hands" with another 'backer leaf. These would be packed into a pair of big, flat tobacco baskets to take to market.

The leaves usually had to be separated out into several grades-I remember sand lugs, lugs, smokers, reds, and tips.

In later years, we only separated it into two or three grades, and baled the leaves by compressing them into big bales with a reinforced plywood box and a bumper jack.
 
Yes we did make our own plant beds ... Like Nic said ... We'd start in late December getting the ground ready ...

Early January we'd gas the ground with methyl bromide gas to kill the weeds. This involved digging trenches down both sides of the bed to bury plastic cloth in and across both ends...
The gas came in cans much like Freon ... The cans were placed in boxes with a sharp nail that would puncture the can when pressed ...
Those boxes were placed an even distance apart down the bed ... Once all were in place the plastic was pulled over and buried making sure there were no places for the gas to escape...

Then the lightest person around ... usually me.... tip toe out onto the plastic and press the cans down on the nails releasing the gas into the box ... The gas vapors spread all under the plastic and kill pretty much anything it touched ... Including humans... But idea was to kill any weed seed and fungus (blue mold)that may be in the ground ...

Once that has stayed on for at least three days ... You removed the plastic ....Carefully!

Then the ground was raked with a iron tooth rake ... the seed then we're sowed making very sure to get an even spread .... The bed was Then rolled with a packer wheel ... Looked like a steam belt wheel off something ...

Then cypress logs were put down the edges and cheese cloth stretched over the beds ... this was to keep the frost off the tiny plants .... This was pulled off time to time for dusting and to pull any weeds the gas may have missed ....

Blue mold was the worse enemy along with cut worms and nematodes, ..


WOW !!! just wow !!! Probably the best thread EVER !!! I haven't experienced any of this, but feel like I have after reading this.:cheers:


Guess baling hay wasn't that bad...
 
Yes we did make our own plant beds ... Like Nic said ... We'd start in late December getting the ground ready ...

Early January we'd gas the ground with methyl bromide gas to kill the weeds. This involved digging trenches down both sides of the bed to bury plastic cloth in and across both ends...
The gas came in cans much like Freon ... The cans were placed in boxes with a sharp nail that would puncture the can when pressed ...
Those boxes were placed an even distance apart down the bed ... Once all were in place the plastic was pulled over and buried making sure there were no places for the gas to escape...

Then the lightest person around ... usually me.... tip toe out onto the plastic and press the cans down on the nails releasing the gas into the box ... The gas vapors spread all under the plastic and kill pretty much anything it touched ... Including humans... But idea was to kill any weed seed and fungus (blue mold)that may be in the ground ...

Once that has stayed on for at least three days ... You removed the plastic ....Carefully!

Then the ground was raked with a iron tooth rake ... the seed then we're sowed making very sure to get an even spread .... The bed was Then rolled with a packer wheel ... Looked like a steam belt wheel off something ...

Then cypress logs were put down the edges and cheese cloth stretched over the beds ... this was to keep the frost off the tiny plants .... This was pulled off time to time for dusting and to pull any weeds the gas may have missed ....

Blue mold was the worse enemy along with cut worms and nematodes, ..
Pretty much the same process here. That methyl bromide always scared me after I actually read the label once. Daddy said not to worry about it. :bounce:
 
Hillbilly, there are a few old timers that still tie the leaves in twist, though that is dying skill.
 
Artfuldodger ... The curing process was simple Art ... learned by watching and listening ...

As you know tobacco was best if cropped "ripe" ... after being put in the barn ... the heat was applied(wood, coal, kerosine, fuel oil and propane) ...
It was best to move the heat up slow and allow the leaf to "color" ... really the heat drove the "green" out and made ripening quicker ... It was best for the to heat to be 105 to 110 degrees the first 24 hrs of so ... the heat could slowly be raised the next day until 120/125 ...easing up to about 140 on the third day ...depending on the color ....
Once the correct color was reached ... the next stage was drying the leaf .... 160/165 heat did that ....

The final stage was drying the stems ...this took 175/180 degrees ... but you had to be very careful of to high heat would turn the leaf reddish ... not the golden color that sold well ...

At the end of the cooking period(depending on the days of took ... sometimes 5 days ... other times 6 ... even 7 days ... but most times 5/6) ...

If you had time ... the doors/top vents were opened(about Sundown) and the natural draft pulled the damp night air in and made the leaf flexible(we call this being "in order" ...

If pushed for time ...then the creek water( or other sources) was poured in the floor and the water vapors did the deed ...
 

Nicodemus

FREELANCE ADMINISTRATOR
"Green" or "swelled" stems would make salesmen tear a sheet of baccer all to pieces if they found some. Jimmy, I know you saw that happen too.

Daddy always sold ours in Vidalia or Hazlehurst. I miss going to the sale.
 
USA Liquid Nicotine, LLC is ready to sell pure liquid nicotine extracted from tobacco grown in the southeastern United States and produced in Albany, Georgia.

Times sure are a changing. These E-cigs might make a return to growing tobacco again in Georgia. I'd rather have Albany nicotine than Chinese extracted nicotine. If I used the stuff.
 
Pretty much the same process here. That methyl bromide always scared me after I actually read the label once. Daddy said not to worry about it. :bounce:
One of my distant cousins picked up a used can of MB laying on the ground a couple weeks old ... Proceeded to sniff the can ... unfortunately for him there remained somehow trapped gas ... He spent three days in the hospital ...
 
"Green" or "swelled" stems would make salesmen tear a sheet of baccer all to pieces if they found some. Jimmy, I know you saw that happen too.

Daddy always sold ours in Vidalia or Hazlehurst. I miss going to the sale.
You bet I did ... that was a dreaded sight ... really didn't want then buyers digging too deep! I was told by a guy that worked in the tobacco factory... that they didn't waste much of anything ... it got used ... Smoked, chewed or dipped!
 
You could always tell the people working tobacco that didn't smoke or chew. They were the ones puking after a few hours. :)
 
Methyl bromide detector

One of my distant cousins picked up a used can of MB laying on the ground a couple weeks old ... Proceeded to sniff the can ... unfortunately for him there remained somehow trapped gas ... He spent three days in the hospital ...
I spent $225,000 at work for MB detector which if I remember correctly alarmed at only a few parts per million to notify our workers to evacuate. That is some nasty stuff.
 
I remember Dad having us spray chlordane under his rental houses for termite treatment.
I can't even imagine all the stuff farmers were still using up into the 1980's and beyond. Way before MSDS sheets and actually thinking of personal health safety.

What was the dust we would have used on tobacco plants in the 1970's? We used our bare hands to apply it to just the buds? Some farmers had us use dusting cans on a stick.
 
I remember Dad having us spray chlordane under his rental houses for termite treatment.
I can't even imagine all the stuff farmers were still using up into the 1980's and beyond. Way before MSDS sheets and actually thinking of personal health safety.

What was the dust we would have used on tobacco plants in the 1970's? We used our bare hands to apply it to just the buds? Some farmers had us use dusting cans on a stick.
Probably Sevin. We used that stuff on everything, even put it on the dogs.
 
We still have an old stick barn on our property. I remember it was used one time when I was little for "green stems". By the time I came along we were using rack barns and have moved to using box barns. Still a little tobacco grown in south GA.
 
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