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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

Chapter III: Tobacco,   pp. 155-175 PDF (4.7 MB)

Page 161

the tobacco areas that the limestone valleys and the tobacco dis-
tricts in a rough way coincide. This is particularly true in Mas-
sachusetts, New York, and Ohio. Southern tobacco need hardly
enter into our discussion, since it is of an almost entirely different
quality and does not compete to any serious extent with the
northern grown leaf. Northern tobacco, it may here be stated,
is valuable for its leaf primarily. It is used in making cigars,
and the size and texture and color of the leaf are of much more
consequence-than the flavor. To produce those qualities the soil
must be rich, and of such a nature as to permit a very rapid
growth in a latitude so high that the summers are but about
three months between the frost dates. The quality of soil best
for tobacco is discussed at length in the tenth Census Report
and the statements there made are fairly well borne out by the
subsequent history of the crop. The leading tobacco journal of
the state sums up the matter of soils about as well as it can be
done in a few lines:-
  "There are three classes of soils recognized by the tobacco
growers of Wisconsin. First, the calcareous sandy; second,
clayey soils, light and dark, and third, prairie soils. The first
produces a plant that matures a week or so earlier than the others;
the leaf is apt to be light in color, elastic, thin, and silky. On
quite sandy soil the leaves often grow rough, lack tenacity and
very often [are] devoid of the main essential, gum or finish, as
it [is] more commonly called. Clay soils varying from light to
heavy grow a good quality when not too heavy, and well drained.
The timber growth of this soil with a hazel undergrowth, after
the second or third crop, will produce the very finest quality of
leaf grown in the state. On heavy clay the tobacco seems in-
clined to grow too thick and coarse. The third class of soils,
prairie, produces by far the greatest proportion of Wisconsin
leaf. It is naturally rich, deep and black, and when well drained,
as most of it is, the very best results are obtained.  .  .  . The
soil lies loose and requires less cultivating than clay soils and is
less liable to wash. The largest yields per acre are obtained from
prairie soils."65
   "A rich sandy loam is prolably the best, and as color is some-
thing of an index to quality, a soil that is of a brown or grayish
  *Wecor~Af Tobacco Reporter, March 13, 1885.

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