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Tent Tobacco Fields from Mt. Sugarloaf
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Tobacco had been grown in Deerfield, Massachusetts, for local use in the 1600s and 1700s. Quality improved with the introduction of a new broadleaf species in the 1830s. When cigars came into fashion in the mid 19th century, farmers in the valley began growing high grade tobacco to be used for cigar wrappers. But the introduction of shade growing around 1900 made the tobacco produced in the Connecticut Valley the highest quality. Shade growing - covering the plants with a cloth on a frame - simulated the half-light conditions of tropical forests. Connecticut Valley loam also proved to be an ideal soil for tobacco: well-drained, high in nitrogen, with good drainage. Once harvested, tobacco had to be hung in precise conditions in the long tobacco barns visible here.
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