Tobacco barn in Deerfield, Wisconsin

Perry Halverson, tobacco farmer

Perry Halverson and Mark Wagler

Taking notes in the tobacco barn

The "Norwegian Stalker" at the tobacco farm

Wall of tobacco barn

Tobacco-farming tools

Inside the tobacco barn

Perry and tobacco laths

Taking notes at the tobacco farm

Tobacco planter

Perry and tobacco

Tobacco Farming with Perry Halverson
Deerfield, WI

Anna | Nick

Perry Halverson owns 500 acres of land. Right now, the "allotment" he is allowed by the government for farming tobacco is only three acres, but he farms tobacco on neighbors' land as well. (Allotments are used to prevent over- or underproduction.)

Tobacco farming requires lots of people. First Perry buys the plants from a greenhouse up in Michigan. Then he plants them using a tobacco planter. The planter is pulled by a tractor. There are four seats, two small ones and two large ones. There are two wheels and two people feed each wheel. You take a plant and put it in a basket in the wheel. The wheel then turns and plants the tobacco.

Different kinds of tobacco are planted in different places. The type grown in Wisconsin is type 55. You couldn't grow, say, type 21 here because it's not adapted to our climate.

After you harvest the tobacco, which is done with a special ax, you use a spear to pierce the tobacco leaves and tie them to lathe boards. Then you hang the boards between logs that are strung all the way up to the top of the barn. The barn has open slits to give the tobacco more air so it dries out.

You have to have proper tools for this kind of work. Even if you're a professional, it takes about two-and-a-half to three hours to prepare the land and plant an acre of tobacco. So imagine how long it will take to plant one acre if you don't have tools!
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This page last updated on October 2, 2002