TOBACCO. The origin of the word "tobacco" has been traced back through quite an interesting history. It starts with the name of a pipe which the early Spaniards found in Santo Domingo, and which was known as the "tobago." Later, this was corrupted to "tabaco." The Italians, Portuguese and English added an extra "c," and the English changed the "a" in the first syllable to "o"—but all clung to the same word. Germany, Denmark, Holland, Scandinavia and Rus -sia make it tobak, France tabac, Poland tabaka, and the Malays tambracco. The similarity renders it easy to get some thing to smoke anywhere in the world without waiting to learn the language! The introduction of tobacco into Eu rope by early settlers in the Southern portion of what is now the United States, is so distinctly a matter of universal knowledge that it is unnecessary to dwell on it here. First used by the American Indians and carried to Europe as a curiosity by the early discoverers of our continent, it is now cultivated in every part of the globe where the climate is sufficiently mild.
The United States is by far the largest tobacco producing country and also the largest exporter of leaf tobacco. The States which rank first in quantity raised are, Kentucky—a long way in the lead; North Carolina and Virginia. Next come, in the order named, Wisconsin, Ohio, Tennessee, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Missouri, West Virginia, Georgia and Florida.
The United States and Belgium are the largest per capita consumers, each averaging about pounds annually.
Germany comes next with pounds.
France and England average 2 pounds.
By the most widely approved method of cultivation, the young plants are ob tained by sowing the seed in specially pre pared beds of rich soil. In Virginia, which may be taken as an example, the sowing is usually performed during the first week in January. The plants are
ready for setting out about the beginning of June.
The fields require much careful at tention—thorough weeding is essential and so is a watchful eye to prevent the ravages of numerous insect enemies. Much of the latter work is done in some sections by flocks of turkeys, maintained for that express purpose. The flower shoots also must be nipped off as soon as they commence to develop, as otherwise they would weaken the leaves. This pro cess is, however, neglected in some countries, especially in Turkey and Greece, where small leaves are preferred, and where, in some cases, as in the celebrated Latakia tobacco, both buds and flowers are used together with the leaves.
The "ripeness" of the plant is indi cated by a peculiar spotted appearance of the leaves. The time generally chosen for cutting is mid-day, or when the sun is powerful and the morning and evening dews absent. Cutting is done by hand, and only the plants marked are taken.
Some growers cut the plant in three sections—the three top leaves, making usually the finest wrappers, in one piece, and the remainder of the stalk in two. Others take the leaves only, or the top leaves and the lower stalk separate. The leaves at this stage are green, fresh and odorless.
The next process is the "curing" or "drying"—sometimes in the sun, at others by "air drying" under cover—the latter process being the longer and requiring often from two to four months—generally first one and then the other.
The leaves are next removed from the stalks and "sweated" in piles for a couple of days. Then comes the assorting—the bad leaves are rejected and the others are graded by size and appearance, tied up in bundles called "hands," and, if for cigars, packed under great pressure in cases or bales and generally stored in dark, well ventilated warehouses for a year or more, to "ripen" by fermentation and further curing. If for smoking or chewing tobacco, the "hands" are pressed into hogsheads.