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The speaker is a 65-year-old White man with a grade school education from Tompkinsville, Kentucky; he was recorded in 1969.



County: Monroe
State: KY

Commentary:
Tompkinsville, a small city with a current population around 2,400, is located in lower south central Kentucky. In this segment the speaker talks about farming, an industry whose history in Kentucky dates back to the early 1800s, before statehood. Agriculture was a key factor in the growth of the state and formed its economic base with such crops as tobacco, hemp, rye, and wheat. Tobacco cultivation spread throughout the state, and by 1865 Kentucky was the leading producer of tobacco in the Union.
FW: Uh, how do you prepare the ground in the spring for the tobacco?

Inf: For the tobacco? Well, we first turn it. You know we sometime plow it in the fall of the year. And then we???ll disc it, cultipack it, get it just, in as good a shape as we can get it in, just no clods, get it good and loose, and then ???course we fertilize it, put lots of fertilizer on it. And, uh, then we set this plant, try to go to settin??? about the fifteenth of May, if we can get the plants proper, the proper size, and uh, before the weather gets too awful hot, ya know. It???s hard to get it to live, if it gets up above ninety degrees.

FW: Do you grow the plants yourself?

Inf: That???s right. We grow the plants ourselves. We prepare the beds in the fall of the year. And we use a bromide gas to kill the weeds and grass in the plants, put a plastic cover over it. And try to sow ???em about summer from the first to the fifteenth of February, and then we want to go to settin??? by the fifteenth of May, if we can, if the weather permits. The problem is with lots of farmers in this part of the country, they don???t water their plants, they???re not fixed to water ???em, and if it turns off dry, you know they die and don???t have too good of luck with ???em, but we, fortunately we???ve got water. We irrigate ours. We never have no trouble with tobacco plants.

FW: Do they take lots of care when they???re growing in the field?

Inf: Not too much. Not too much. You cultivate it about three times. Sometimes not only twice. But ???course now you spread for the weeds, use the weed and the grass chemical, no weeds and grass can bother us an?????? It???s not like it used to be. You used to have to shuck it by hand, you know, an??? you top this tobacco. There???s a sucker, what we call a sucker, another little plant come out of there by leaf. See, and we had to go through there and break ???em out by hand. But now we spray it with a chemical when we top it. There???s no suckers never comes on this tobacco. And it???s not as hard, as much hard work to raise tobacco as it was thirty years ago.

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