Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to lower the labor requirement of harvesting burley

           Could burley growers replace the hatchet-like tobacco "knife" with a weedeater for cutting down their stalks? "We have found that a weedeater with a blade is the best way to cut burley,” says Joseph French, superintendent of the Upper Piedmont Research Station at ReidsvilleN.C. "You can cut burley [so] much faster with [one]." You also don’t have to stoop as you do with the conventional knife. “Breakage might be a concern, since the stalk falls straight down,” says French. “But we haven’t had enough breakage yet for it to be a problem.” The harvester walks backward down the row cutting the stalks close to the ground, The stalks fall away from him. The stalks are gathered and loaded--without spearing on sticks--on trailers which carry them to a barn. "There, we notch them with a mechanical notcher attached to the trailer and hang them from wire racks,” says French.

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