In July 1968, the priming of flue-cured tobacco started on the farm of Joseph Fath on Highway 73 at the northerly limits of Aylmer. It was one of the first, if not the very first farms to start priming tobacco in the county that year. The farm was worked by sharegrower Clarence Riesebos and his family. Shown priming are, from left, Henry Riesebos, 21, a son, and Mat VanHam, 18, of Aylmer.
St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds, C8 Sh2 B2 F5 11a.
Mid-August to Early-October
Harvesting begins around the second week of August. When bright-leaf tobacco was first cultivated in Ontario, the method to bring in the crop had been similar to how burley tobacco was harvested: allow the leaves to ripen in the field and then hang the whole plant in the barn to cure. However, this method was not very good at properly curing this new variety. Because bottom leaves ripen first, they are removed 2-3 at a time (called priming), tied together onto wooden slats, and placed in kilns to cure. The leaves are removed by hand. In the past, a horse pulling a tobacco boat would travel with the workers in the field who would break off the leaves and gather them by the armful before transferring them to the boat. As the 60s progressed, mechanical priming aids were developed which allow the primers to ride along the rows and place leaves into attached bins. Eventually, mechanical harvesters were developed which remove the bottom leaves with turning rubber disks and automatically convey them to a hopper (this is called the tangled leaf method). However it is done, ripened leaves are picked from the bottom to the top until there are no leaves left on the plant.
Flue-cured tobacco priming operations began on the farm of Homer Heyndrickx, RR 5, Aylmer, in July 1970. Due to one of the earliest tobacco crops on record, a number of area farms began harvesting as early as the last week of July. Seen operating the priming machine is David Duquett of Galt.
St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds, C8 Sh2 B2 F5 22.
Elgin County :
- In The Field
- Into the Kiln
- Crop Damage
- The Workers