By Drew A. Swanson
Swanson, who brings to his narrative the event of getting grown up on a operating Virginia tobacco farm, explores how one try out at agricultural permanence went heavily awry. He weaves jointly social, agricultural, and cultural background of the Piedmont zone and illustrates how rules approximately race and panorama administration turned entangled lower than slavery and in a while. difficult long-held perceptions, this leading edge examine examines not just the cloth relationships that hooked up crop, land, and other people but additionally the reasons that inspired tobacco farming within the region.
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Extra info for A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South
Farmers strove to ensure that each hogshead of tobacco was of consistent quality, as inspectors usually graded hogsheads based on the poorest-quality leaves they observed when sampling. ” The typical hand was composed of four or ﬁve leaves with their tails and stems aligned, tied together at the stem end with another leaf.
9 Although cultural diﬀerences separated these two waves of settlers, both groups relied on the Chesapeake’s historic staple as their primary cash crop. The ﬁrst Euro-American settlers in the three counties selected their farm sites with an eye toward tobacco cultivation. Desiring fertile alluvial soil and easy access to water transportation for heavy tobacco hogsheads (barrels holding cured leaf), almost all of the region’s initial residents sought out land along the numerous rivers and creeks that dissected the hilly landscape.
The purpose of topping and priming was to force the plant to direct its energy into growing larger and heavier leaves rather than reproductive structures. Whereas un-topped tobacco grew tall and spindly, topped tobacco ﬁ lled out short and squat. Each farmer had his own formula, but topped and primed tobacco plants generally retained eight to twelve leaves, depending on soil and weather conditions. Like many other tobacco tasks, farmers considered topping highly skilled work. 63 Topping added quality to the crop, but it also created a problem.