Varieties and Cultivation
The main variety grown is Virginia Gold – a fluecured type which crops heavily and is good for manufacture. About 95 per cent of the total grown is of this variety, the remainder being mostly Burley – air dried. The crop is grown under contract to the manufacturers. Seed is sown in beds on the farm. The soil in these beds is sterilised against soil pests and diseases. Seed is sown very thinly so that the young plants do not have to be handled before transplanting to the field. This practice reduces the spread of mosaic. Seed is normally sown in late August. Calico covers are fitted to the beds to shade the plants on extremely bright days and also to protect them from frost. Planting out in the field is normally done in November when fear of frost has passed, most of the area being planted by machines. Cultivation is continued while the crop is small enough to allow the passage of tractors. Almost all the area is irrigated. Harvesting begins in late January and continues until the first frosts in late April. Harvesting machines, both imported and locally made, are used on most of the larger farms. When harvesting stops the ground is thoroughly cultivated, often with a rotary cultivator, so that all stalks and trash are buried. Cover crops of short-rotation ryegrass or rye corn are grown in the winter.