Have I mentioned that tobacco is a new crop to me since moving to Tennessee? Pretty sure I was one of the “new” folks wondering why that barn was smoking! In Tennessee, tobacco is still a big crop. Both burley and dark fire are grown across North Central and Eastern parts of the state.

Touring a Tennessee tobacco farm

This past weekend while I was out taking pasture forage measurements at our North Middle TN farm, I got a brief tour of the tobacco crop which is in the middle of harvest. The University has some air-cured and barn(?) cured tobacco on the farm and I got to see a little of both. I even got to walk in one of the barns that was on fire and learned it’s just sawmill boards and sawdust on fire, the smoke and heat are what cures the tobacco. It can take several fires to cure tobacco.

Tennessee tobacco barn
Tobacco barn

The burley tobacco is the lighter green, taller variety in these photos. It’s mostly used in cigarettes. Many U.S. cigarettes are a blend of a couple of U.S. varieties and an overseas variety of tobacco.

burley Tennessee tobacco
Burley tobacco plant

The dark fire tobacco is what’s used in chews and cigars. The leaf is what actually makes the wrap around the cigar.

Tennessee tobacco dark fire
The dark fire tobacco plant

I’m not sure what other uses there may be for tobacco. I’m sure there’s some sort of research into the use as biofuels. The government has heavily regulated the tobacco markets and manufacturing, so the U.S. crop isn’t near as large as it once was.

Tennessee tobacco field

Tomorrow I’ll have a guest post by David Hayden who actually grew up farming tobacco and studied it in college. He has some great insight into the growing season for tobacco and some of the difficulties farmers face when growing the crop. Be sure to tune in!

Have you ever seen a tobacco crop in the field?