On deliveries this morning, we saw this Amish family harvesting the tobacco crop. The tobacco is already "lathed," meaning it is cut and the leaves are pierced at the bottoms and laced on laths. That is what has caused the cone shapes you see in the field. It appears the family is out with the wagon to pick up the laths which will now be hung in the barn to dry. In the winter, the dried leaves will be "sized" and baled up ready for sale.
Tobacco used to be a very popular cash crop here, but some time ago, the price of the leaves (we grow the variety used as the outer wrapping of cigars) dropped dramatically. It was so bad that the farmers refused to sell their crops and eventually just stopped growing tobacco.
If you look closely, you can see that the wife had already done wash and hung it out on the line stretched across in front of the barn. This family also has a large, immaculate garden in their front yard, vegetables and flowers combined beautifully... They sell both! Don't try to find the garden! I just know it is there because we pass this farm pretty often.
I'm assuming the price is back up because tobacco seems to be making a comeback here even though it is a very labor-intensive crop. Planting, topping (removing the bloom from the top to prevent it going to seed) and harvesting are all hand work. It is a good crop for a family that has extra hands and works well together.
Tobacco used to be a very profitable crop here and it was not unusual for the boys on an "English" farm to be given their own acre of tobacco to tend. In the late 60's, early 70's, if you saw a young man driving a new Corvette around here, chances were he had grown his *own* tobacco, saved for a few years and bought his car for cash when he hit 16. I know a lot of non-farm kids resented them, but that car represented a lot of sweat and toil.