Crop Science

Drew A. Swanson's A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South PDF

By Drew A. Swanson

Drew A. Swanson has written an “environmental” background a couple of crop of significant ancient and monetary value: American tobacco.  a well-liked agricultural product for far of the South, the tobacco plant may finally degrade the land that nurtured it, yet because the writer provocatively argues, the alternative of crop first and foremost made excellent agrarian in addition to monetary feel for southern planters.
Swanson, who brings to his narrative the adventure 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 historical past of the Piedmont area and illustrates how principles approximately race and panorama administration grew to become entangled lower than slavery and later on. hard long-held perceptions, this leading edge research examines not just the cloth relationships that attached crop, land, and folks but additionally the excuses that inspired tobacco farming within the region.

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Extra resources for A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South

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59 Once a farmer was satisfied with the stand, cultivation began, a process that would continue until a few weeks before harvest. 60 As in corn and cotton culture, tobacco cultivation was an exercise in vigilance. Over the course of a season workers cultivated around each plant several times, and even industrious hands could fall behind in the never-ending battle against weeds if unusual weather intervened. ” During topping, hands broke out the flowering structure and small apical leaves, and often knocked several leaves off the bottom of the stalk as well (a process referred to as “priming,” as it left only prime leaves on the plant).

Workers always mixed tobacco seeds— at nearly a half million per ounce, they are among the smallest of all agricultural seeds—with a substrate, usually ashes, to facilitate even coverage over the bed. A typical plant bed required only two tablespoons of seed mixed with a gallon of ashes for thorough coverage. 55 Once they had sown the seed and harrowed in the manure, planters covered their beds with hog hair or a thick layer of brush. These coverings served a variety of purposes: they protected the young plants from frost, kept many insects— especially tobacco flies, which chewed holes in the tender foliage—away, and they helped the bed retain moisture during dry spells.

The author declared, “I have travelled over fifteen States of this Union, and have never seen anything comparable to his yard and garden, except some of them in the Mississippi Delta— and none of them equal it . . ” 45 Although his estimate was more conservative than that of Wiencek, historian Ulrich B. ”46 Samuel’s mother, Ruth, owned almost as many slaves. 48 Although James C. Bruce and Samuel Hairston were extraordinary examples of planter wealth and power, there were a number of other planters who had parlayed the three counties’ limited fertile ground into tobacco riches.

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