Methods of curing tobacco. Page: 5
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sprinkled with water. The stalks are taken from the laths and the
leaves stripped off. The leaves are put by handfuls into a box lined
with strong, tough paper. The paper is wrapped tightly over it and
the bundle securely tied. A large proportion of the tobacco is sold to
the dealers in this shape. Some producers sort it, however, and get
3 cents a pound more for it, although the packers usually re-sort it
before the fermentation.
When properly sorted the tobacco is graded into fillers, binders, and
long and short, bright and dark wrappers. These are made up into
hands," i. e. bundles of leaves tied together at the base. The tobacco
is frequently "blown," that is, lightly sprinkled with water to bring it
into proper order before casing or packing down, but this is never
practiced by the best farmers.
The fermentation, or sweating, is usually managed by the packers
and not by the farmers. The sweating is done in wooden cases,
strongly put together, holding on an average about 300 pounds of
tobacco. These cases are not tight, but have a space of one-half inch
between the boards. A good crop in sweating loses from 10 to 14
per cent of its weight, and there must be sufficient ventilation to allow
this moisture to escape. On the bottom of the box is put a layer of
top leaves, or seconds, as the outside does not sweat readily. The
leaves are well shaken out and packed with the butts outside, and
tightly pressed down to exclude the air as much as possible. The
tobacco is piled into the box and pressed down with a moderate pressure,
and then the top of the box is screwed on. The cases are then
marked and piled up in the warehouse, in rows 3 or 4 boxes high, for
the sweat. Once, at least, during the season good packers turn the
boxes upside down and put the top boxes at the bottom.
The tobacco is cased in the fall or winter, and so remains through
the next summer. The temperature of the warehouse is quite even
during the winter. After the summer's sweat the operation is finished,
and the cases are opened and sampled. This is one year after the
harvest. After sampling the tobacco is returned to the case without
breaking the bulk, and remains in the case until it is wanted by the
The whole process of fermentation in this operation is largely a matter
of chance. It is not controlled, the temperature is not taken to note
the progress of the fermentation, and nothing is done, in point of fact,
except to maintain the temperature of the room moderately uniform
during the winter season. In some cases the fermentation is overdone
and in other cases it is underdone. There is a strong feeling among
the more intelligent planters that more information is needed upon
the changes which take place, in order that these may be carefully
There is room for marked improvement in grading and sorting the
tobacco and putting it upon the market. Comparatively little attention
is given to this subject, and as a consequence the cases when opened
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United States. Department of Agriculture. Methods of curing tobacco., book, 1898; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6321/m1/5/: accessed December 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.