Amish planting tobacco in PA Dutch Country!

July 20, 2010 | Category: Amish | Posted by: Sarah

Dropping the plants in!

Do you see the two girls sitting on either side of the tractor? They are dropping the little green plants in the dirt to grow! I never knew that some of the plants are started out of the ground and then transplanted into the fields!

*Note: Thanks for letting me know it’s tobacco- I wasn’t sure what they were planting!

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  1. Neil Fellenbaum
    on July 20th, 2010

    They are planting tobacco sitting on either side of an old transplanter.

  2. Harl Delos
    on July 27th, 2010

    Just as a grain drill can be used to plant wheat, oats, soybeans, and other crops, a planter such this one can be used for other crops than tobacco. I used one, borrowed from a neighbor, back in the 1950s and 1960s, to plant tomatoes.

    We contracted with Stokley Van-Camp to produce tomatoes for a ketchup factory. They furnished the tomato plants and once their factory was up and operating, paid something like 2c or 3c a pound for dead ripe tomatoes.

    The tomatoes didn’t really start yielding very well until the hot days of mid-August. We were under contract so we weren’t technically allowed to sell any of the tomatoes elsewhere, but before the plant opened, they didn’t care what happened to the tomatoes, so we had a roadside stand. Early in the season, prices were fairly high. My cousin ran the stand one year, and early on, he priced the tomatoes at 10c a pound, 2 for 25c. Half a century later, he still gets kidded about that, but the funny thing is, a lot of people decided to get 2 pounds, not realizing that making 2 one-pound purchases would save a nickel.

    One acre is a bleep of a lot of tomatoes to pick, and between Mom, Dad, and the three kids still left at home, we had the devil’s own time trying to keep up, but if you let some of the tomatoes rot in the field, it spreads disease to the other tomatoes. My back aches now thinking about picking those tomatoes in 100F weather, all sweaty, with flies trying to fly into my eyes, nose, and mouth. Needless to say, when it comes to the immigration issue, I’m for free and easy immigration by stoop laborers. Those people deserve a lot of respect, not a lot of hassle.

    The planter opens up a furrow, deposits the plant, and holds it upright until the dirt covers it. I don’t know about tobacco, but when you transplant tomatoes, you should plant them deeper than they were. If the transplants are 6″ tall, plant them 5″ deeper. The part you plant turns into root, and you end up with a really healthy, thick-stalked tomato plant that will produce early and heavily.

    The operators sit on the planter, depositing the transplants, one at a time, onto a tray. The planter then grabs the plant from the tray. It’s not difficult work, and it’s not frantic work, but you can’t have kids doing it, because of the danger of the machine grabbing a finger instead of the plant. If you are alert, you have tons of time to move your hand away from the moving parts.

    The planter we used was horse-drawn equipment, but we pulled it behind an Allis Chalmers WC tractor, using a twist clevis in the drawbar. In the postwar era, there was a lot of farm equipment designed for horses that was being pulled by tractors. Of course, during WWII, there was a shortage of fuel for tractors, but there was also a shortage of good horses, and farmers tended to sell their good horses to the military because they were patriotic, and rely on horses that were sub-par for farm work. Life was not easy for a farmer in the early 1940s, but given the economy of the 1930s, it wasn’t anything they weren’t used to by then.

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