Neighbor Gary McMasters along with daughter Elizabeth and another neighbor Jerry Ferguson gathered and sticked burley tobacco this past weekend in Grays Chapel, North Carolina in preparation to moving it to a drying barn. Unlike flu-cured tobacco where leaves are removed as they ripen up the stalk, burley is harvested by cutting the whole plant, and it is air dried rather than being cured by heat. Gary raises about 1 1/2 acres and does pretty much everything by hand. Traditionally, burley tobacco was grown in the mountains of North Carolina and flue-cured in the Piedmont. New varieties have made it possible to grow burley in warmer areas.
Gary lives on land that has been in his family for several generations in Randolph County and besides farming tobacco and other crops, he runs a small custom saw mill and raises horses and mules. He produces sorghum molasses every year on a mule driven cane mill.