Monday, March 15, 2010

Burley Tobacco

Gooooood Monday Morning to you all. We are going to be looking at a neat set of pictures this week. The picture above was taken in 1940 near Lexington, Kentucky. The men are picking Burley Tobacco. The thing you notice is that the picture was in color. Normally, you would expect pictures from the era to be in Black and White, but this is a very early example of color photography. Wonder if anyone out there ever picked tobacco?


  1. I guess it shows how much a person knows about different parts of our GREAt country.
    Being from the North and never have seen tobaccco plants, I was in the dark
    For some reason I always thought the tobacco leaves were much larger in size and that there was more leaves per plant.
    Or is it just this kind of tobacco that is thgis size?
    The corn in the back ground looks right to me.
    Great color in this photo for 1940, but I guess most of World War II was shot with color film.

  2. Great photograph of bygone era for the most part. The Burley tobacco smells wonderful before it is processed,burned, smoked. My father bought Burley tobacco at auction for many years.Look forward to seeing more of your photos this week.

  3. Color photography has been around longer than most people think. When this photo was shot, color photos had been around for about sixty years.

  4. Great photo. I never saw tobacco plants in the fields, either.

  5. My Daddy farmed and raised tobacco for many years in Tennessee. There were 4 of us kids and we were expected to help. There are many different kinds of tobacco raised for different products so the plants can be tall or short. the leaves can large or small and it can be cured in several different ways. We did not call this picking tobacco. We called it cutting tobacco. Every part of raising tobacco is tedious hard work but it was huge cash crop until the 1980's. Thanks to the federal government that has all changed. People can say what they want about tobacco use but all I know is it fed me, clothed me and put a roof over my head for many years and taught me to hard work never hurt anybody. By the way I am a woman not a man and was expected to be in that tobacco field just like everyone else.

  6. I am from Connecticut, and here we grow cigar wrapper tobacco. Wrapper tobacco is grown under shade tents in the Connecticut River Valley throughout north/ central CT and the Pioneer Valley of MA. Shade grown tobacco from the CT river valley supposedly is the best wrapper for cigars. It is a tradition that goes back to the beginning of CT as a colony I believe. My father picked tobacco back in the 1940s, but would not let me or my sisters pick tobacco as teenagers.

  7. I picked tobacco In CT In my youth, Im 62 and it was definitely hard work. Each leaf cannot be bruised at all because they are used for the cigar wrapper so they have to be without blemishes. The plants grow to be 8 ft. tall in the shade of the tents. The leave become ripe from the bottom of the plant so the first picking would be the first two or three leaves. Witch means the person picking has to sit in a rocky row, make pads of the leaves and put them in a 1 1/2' x 3' canvas and metal basket that he drags behind him to the end of the row. Rows are two or three hundred feet long and in the morning with the dew on the plants every leave you pick causes it to rain by noon you might be dry. So you work your way up the plant witch means at some point you are going down the rows on your knees then your stooped over and finally near the end of the summer your standing and reaching. The baskets of leaves go to really large sheds where each leaf is strung on string that is put on a piece of lath that is then hung in the shed from peak to floor. Temperature and humidity is controlled for a month or more and the tobacco is cured. When cured the leaves are tough and rubbery.
    I worked for four summers on the tobacco farm and it was hard work but it was a lot of fun too. A time I'll never forget.

  8. I am happy to report that I have received my copy of 'True Women' and look forward to reading it soon.