Do You Know about the Harmony between Tobacco, Soybeans, and Cotton?

Tobacco Farm Life Museum Kenly NCA crop will tap nutrients from the soil, therefore it can’t be planted in the same field two years in a row. In fact, it’s on a three-year cycle. In North Carolina, many farms rotate between tobacco, soybeans, and cotton.

I wonder if they grow all three simultaneously on different fields to diversify against the market and critters, or if they go all-in with one crop per year. Do you know?

I also don’t know if this is the case for all crops, or just these, but it would seem logical for all crops. I mean we get tired of eating the same food, hearing the same songs, hanging out with the same people….

Why Tobacco?

Where does my new-found (but limited) farming knowledge originate? The Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Kenly, NC.

If I’m not a smoker, why would I go to a tobacco farming museum? Because I’m curious about farming (remember, I’m from the CITY). It could just as easily have been a brussel sprouts museum.

How Does your Garden Grow?

The plants are first grown in a greenhouse (February) and then transplanted to the field (April). To grow strong roots, the leaves are mowed multiple times a week, forcing the energy back down instead of up. When the plants start to flower (June), they cut off the blooms because the goal isn’t propagation.

Harvesting happens in July, cutting off bottom, middle, and top leaves in different batches for their unique flavors (I did not know that).

The leaves cure (dry) in an “oven” at 160 degrees for seven days and are watched constantly for exact conditions. By September everything is sold and work turns to repairing machinery and buildings in preparation for the next season.

Tobacco field

Tobacco’s Contribution to Farming

The Soil Conservation Service was founded in North Carolina in the 1920’s in response to farmers who over-watered, left land without nutrients, and were unaware of the damage the were reaping.

Before America was “settled” people would abandon tapped-out land and find fresh soil. By the 1920’s that was no longer an option. The SCS sought to educate about soil care for long-term community-building and profitability. Ultimately it was approved by Congress and President Roosevelt.

What farming tidbit can you share?


4 Responses


Your Comments George Washington was heavy into tobacco early in Mt. Vernon days. He quickly discovered that it took a great deal out of the soil and had to switch to crop rotation. He did some interesting things with crop rotation and finally gave up on tobacco.

Even for a small garden rotating crops is a good idea. In my veg boxes I have always rotated between root crops, tomatoes, and vines (Peas, pumpkins, etc) so that I can have all the vegs I want each year. Each plant drains the soil of a different nutrient, that’s why the rotation works so well. Oh, and I’ll share the only other great garden tip I have: The only way to keep deer from a small garden is to have the menfolk “water” the garden regularly – the good ol’ fashioned way. The deer are afraid of the people smell. That was the only thing that worked for us! 🙂


Very interesting crop facts- great post. No brussel sprouts museum, by the way. The closest you will find is:
Not quite the same…

My latest tip from the garden came when I harvested 6 pieces of okra yesterday and had no idea what to make with so few pieces. Cooking them in any form seemed silly, but I did not think you could eat them without cooking somehow.
I looked it up and found that you can eat okra raw and it was delicious! Albeit a little slimy, but sliced with other fresh veggies in my salad it worked great.


soil is life. learning about how to work with & honor the soil sustains & enriches life. thanks for posting this.

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