In Southern Ontario it's harvest time for tobacco - Ontario's largest cash crop which last year amounted to 180 million pounds in weight, giving the Canadian Government a 325 million dollar revenue from excise duties.
LS. Tobacco farm - kilns in BG.
LS. "Primers" at work in fields.
CS. Man picks leaves from plant.
CS. Workers pile bundles of tobacco into "boat".
MS. Tractor arrives with load of tobacco.
CS. Girls' hands tying leaves to sticks.
MCS. Girl at work.
MS. Girl places bundle of tobacco on conveyor.
MCS. Conveyor belt moving tobacco into kiln.
MS. Man inside kiln takes bundle & hangs it up.
MS. Man in kiln hangs up tobacco.
MS. Windows of kiln are closed.
MCS. Men inspect leaves.
Men go out.
MS. Worker opens kiln window, lifts out cured tobacco.
CS. Two men inspect leaves.
MLS. Tobacco is loaded on wagon.
MCS. Loading is completed.
MS. Tractor driver sits at wheel.
MS. Tractor and wagon away down road.
Initials KJ F/KJ
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Background: In Southern Ontario it's harvest time for tobacco - Ontario's largest cash crop which last year amounted to 180 million pounds in weight, giving the Canadian Government a 325 million dollar revenue from excise duties.
Unproductive sandy wastelands by the shores of Lake Erie proved to be excellent tobacco-growing soil which is now the highest-priced farmland in Canada. Trim farmhouses, barns and well-kept curing kilns dot the twelve southern counties around the lake.
Harvest time keeps 4,000 Ontario tobacco growers on their toes. Experienced harvest crews work from early in the morning till late at night to fill a kiln a day. Usually a farmer hires a crew of 14, seven men and seven women, to do the job.
Tobacco-pickers, called "primers", gather the ripe leaves and place them in narrow boxes on runners, known as "boats". A horse drags the boat through the long rows of tobacco until it is filled. Sitting at a long table, women are waiting to prepare the tobacco for the kiln.
The picked leaves are tied together in bunches and fastened to wooden laths to be carried by an escalator into the kiln, where they are exposed to an even temperature until they turn yellow. Then the "cure-man" raises the heat to 170Ã¸ Fahrenheit to remove all moisture from the leaves. Curing tobacco is a highly skilled craft and most of the cure-men come from the southern United States for the Canadian harvest.
After curing, the dried tobacco is taken by a tractor to the farmer's storage bard for sorting and grading - and the kiln is ready for the next lot.
Not until the last kiln is filled can the farmers relax. Speed in harvesting is essential as early frost or hail can wipe out whole areas of tobacco crops. Early frost this year brought losses of ten million dollars to farmers in southwestern Ontario.
So far this year, 35 million pounds of Canadian flue-cured tobacco have been exported. Over 100 million will be used in Canadian manufacture of tobacco products.