The Rural Economy of New England: A Regional Study

By John Donald Black | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 22
Tobacco

In a map of the tobacco farming regions of the United States, the Connecticut Valley area of Connecticut and Massachusetts would be totally eclipsed by a couple of well-placed thumbtacks; but the 12,380 acres of tobacco grown in Connecticut in 1936-1940 (average) represented 12 per cent of the value of farm products of the state; and the 5720 acres grown in Massachusetts in the same period was 3 per cent of the value of farm products of that state. The 1186 "crop-specialty" farms (nearly all tobacco) classified by Elliott in Hartford County were valued at $264 per acre in 1930 according to the Federal Census, although they averaged less than eight acres of tobacco per farm of 62 acres.

The Connecticut Valley mainly grows two types, Broadleaf, and Havana Seed, known to the trade as Types 51 and 52 respectively. These are now used in some measure as wrappers but mainly as binders for Class B and Class C cigars.1 The former wet selling before the war at two for fifteen cents and the latter at ten and fifteen cents. The Wisconsin area produces cigar-binder tobacco and the Pennsylvania and Ohio areas cigar-filler tobacco. The Valley also grows a fine quality of shade-grown wrapper tobacco, Type 61, competing in this with small areas in Georgia and Florida producing Type 62.

Under the stimulus of rising prices, the sun-grown tobacco acreage in Connecticut and Massachusetts had risen from 14,000 acres in 1900 to 21,500 acres in 1910, and finally under the 1918-19 wartime prices of 40 cents per pound and over to 36,040 acres in 1920. This acreage was maintained until after the break in 1923-1925 which brought prices to 20 cents or less for a while. Although prices recovered somewhat promptly, fluctuating around 25 cents until 1930, the acreage fell off to 27,200 in 1930. The further collapse of

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1
Only one-fifth of the Broadleaf and practically none of the Havana Seed is now actually used as wrappers. Some of the Havana Seed is still graded as wrapper, however.

-457-

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