What is a tobacco stick?
By Jill Beam | February 2, 2019
The “Tobacco Stick” was used to hang the tobacco plants from the barn rafters to dry. However, Tobacco sticks served many purposes on the farm other than hanging tobacco because of their availability, shape, strength, and sizes.
The tobacco was harvested late in the summer each year. The tobacco plants were cut using a tobacco knife. Several tobacco plants were placed on tobacco sticks, which were hauled on sleds to the tobacco barn to cure, later the tobacco leaves were removed from the tobacco stalk and sold at market.
From Bob Kincaid whose family farmed tobacco in the Weston:
Dad, papaw, and grand-paw made their own tobacco sticks. A large tree was cut down. The logs were cut into approximately five-foot lengths. Each log was then split into smaller pieces, using a froe and a wooden mallet until the tobacco sticks were the end product.
Often, the fall of the year was a slow period of time. Dad told me that on a good day, they could make 250-500 tobacco sticks. Several thousand tobacco sticks were needed for the tobacco grown on the family farm, however extra sticks were made and sold for much-needed dollars. The tobacco sticks sold for about $0.03/each.
Farming was a major industry. Hemp reached peak production in 1860, putting Weston on the map as a major world producer. By 1885, with the loss of the port and farmhands to work the labor-intensive crop, the last hemp was shipped from the town. It was replaced in the late 19th century by large-scale tobacco farming. The first tobacco auction was in 1912. December and January brought the tobacco buyers to Weston for the annual tobacco auction, said Bob Kincaid whose late father was a tobacco farmer.
Harvesting and preparing the tobacco “was hard work,” Kincaid said. “We cut it, put it in the barn to dry, then stripped it, graded it and took it to the warehouse for sale.”
At the peak of tobacco production, 3,400 acres were planted, with more than 2,200 in Platte County, he added. Today, tobacco is grown on about 575 acres in Platte, and the number of farmers involved has dwindled to 30 in Missouri.
We got our tobacco sticks from the Mason Farm, located in Platte County, Missouri.
These pictures show the barn and the stacks of tobacco sticks where we picked them up.