Local News

Person County Farmers Take Chance On Different Kind Of Tobacco

Posted August 8, 2005 7:06 a.m. EDT

— It is almost harvest time at a tobacco farm in Person County, but this year, there is something different. Alongside the flue-cured tobacco, there is an alternative crop being grown.

Cal Berryhill is one of several farmers in Person County trying

burley tobacco

for the first time. It is more common in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. It brings in a better price than flue-cured tobacco, but it has its drawbacks.

"You almost water this twice as much. In fact, we've watered this four times when flue-cured has been watered once," Berryhill said.

The burley crop not only needs more water, but more chemical treatments. It is also more labor intensive, especially at harvest.

Flue-cured tobacco is harvested one leaf at a time. With burley tobacco, they harvest by the stalk. One swing with a sharp blade cuts the stalk off at the ground. Then, the stalk is mounted on a stick, where it cures naturally. Time will tell if the burley experiment works, but farmers say this summer offers a good measuring stick.

"If it survives the kind of summer that we've had this year with over 100 degree temperatures. If it does well this summer, it will do well any summer," said tobacco grower Jim Pentecost.

One cigarette contains several blends of tobacco. Burley is used to enhance flavor and burn quality of the cigarette.