Earlier this summer I posted some images of my neighbor Gary McMasters harvesting his burley tobacco on his farm in Grays Chapel, North Carolina. The tobacco has been hanging in his barn drying for several months. Saturday when I stopped by I found Gary starting a fire in the stove in his pack barn so he and his neighbor Charlie could work on grading his crop. Grading burley tobacco involves stripping the leave off the stalks and separating them by “grades” into piles. The piles are then placed into a press and made into bales which are sold at market. The stove is necessary because for one thing it’s pretty cold in the pack barn, but the heat also helps put the tobacco in “order”, or in other words, it helps Gary keep the humidity right so he can work with the leaves without too much or not enough moisture.
(Photographs copyright 2010 by Dan Routh)