26TOBACCO FARMING

This tobacco has been hung and cured.  Now the kiln doors are open to let in moisture.
This tobacco has been hung and cured. Now the kiln doors are open to let in moisture.
The curing process is the "make it or break it" stage of tobacco harvesting. It was so specialized that farmers would bring up curemen from North Carolina to supervise the curing of the tobacco. Fires were lit inside the kiln, and allowed to burn high or low depending on the status of the leaves. The most prized leaves were bright yellow. Eventually, some moisture would be allowed back into the leaves by opening the doors of the kiln. When the tobacco was properly cured, it would be stripped off the stalk by hand, sorted according to the colour of the stem (green, yellow or red), packed into handfuls, and then tied. It would then be packed and sent to auction.

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