Life in Christian County, Kentucky... Life in The Upper South...
The farmers are finished now with tobacco planting. The seeds are started in greenhouses early in the spring and the little plants grow there until the weather is warm. Each plant is then set by hand in the field.
The field will be tended by hand, much like a vegetable garden, until harvest. Many farmers plant a few short rows of tomatoes or sweet corn at the edge of the field since they will be in the field every day, hoe in hand.
At harvest time, the tobacco will be cut by hand and hung in barns (like the one in the background) to cure. Depending on the variety of tobacco, curing may involve "firing" the tobacco so that it's leaves are flavored by smoke. When cured, the leaves will be stripped from the stalks by hand and packed into a small bale.
These appear to be dark tobacco plants, and they will probably be fired. They might eventually end up at the Copenhagen and Skoal factory in Hopkinsville, or they might go into pipe tobacco or cigars.
When I first came here, I had real doubts about whether anyone should grow tobacco because its products are so addictive and harmful. However, after watching my farmer neighbors work terribly hard in their tobacco fields throughout the hot, humid Kentucky summers, I respect the skill and hard labor they put into a crop of tobacco.
Tobacco has been grown here for a long, long time, and many of these farmers have been growing it all their lives. The whole history of Christian County, Kentucky, is centered around the growing of tobacco. The local farm economy relies less on tobacco nowadays than in times past, but I think some tobacco will always be grown here.
Old Tobacco Barn
Tobacco In Hopkinsville and Christian County