Larry Oberdeck stood in his 3 acres of tobacco fields to the west of Edgerton, Wis., last week, checking his crop ripening.
He looked at his Wisconsin-flowering variety of plants, with their high, deep green leaves were prone under dusty-pink flowers. This kind of tobacco - loose-leaf chewing tobacco - that Oberdeck and other producers were to increase the area for decades.
Nevertheless, this was mixed with that occur entirely different species of tobacco. He has a broad, hanging leaves, velvety to the touch. It’s squat — about half the height of Wisconsin tobacco.
Maryland tobacco - different manufacturers use in cigarettes and pipes, manufacturers and local dealers say tobacco.
It’s a different culture from anything Edgerton tobacco-producing areas have ever tried, and it’s the first time in the history of the area that farmers grew tobacco used for smoking.
Oberdeck first tried half an acre of tobacco in Maryland last year, and that he raised an acre this year. He still believes that the new crop of odd to look at.
“The plants, they just look different,” he said. “It’s completely different.”
Oberdeck is one of the dwindling group of farmers in northern Rock County, which still grow tobacco.
As soon as the financial basis of Edgerton, chewing tobacco was a cash crop that dominated the field, has made millionaires of local merchants in the late 1800s and for decades have helped to put the farm kids in college.
Over the past 20 years, however, a loose-leaf chewing tobacco market fell sharply, and all that remains of the former stronghold of the district dozens of farms with a tiny amount of tobacco area.
All tobacco is grown in the area for a contract and bought the suppliers who sell to manufacturers, but there has been a sharp drop-off in the amount of Wisconsin-variety of chewing tobacco vendors will buy.
Bob Bartz, the dealer Edgerton tobacco leaves Viroqua, a division of Lancaster, Pa.-based provider of Tobacco Lancaster Leaf, said the new variety of Maryland is a boon for area farmers are still trying to cling to tobacco as a cash crop.
“The future looks very bright for this type of tobacco for those who want to pick it up,” said Bartz. “It looks like it’s part of the growth of the tobacco industry.”
Bartz said the demand is higher in some parts of the world for pipe and cigarette tobacco than for chewing tobacco, which until last year was the only type of tobacco ever grew up around Edgerton.
Local farmer Tom Sayre, who grew tobacco for more than 50 years, said he was helping his grandchildren raise about 5 acres of a new variety in Maryland this year. This is the first time he grew nothing but chewing tobacco or cigars are used in wrappers.
Sayre said he was told the suppliers and others in the tobacco industry, that most of the different Maryland is grown in the U.S.is sent to Asia, where it is used in cigarettes.
“They say, where it is in high demand right now in the East - in South Asia,” he said. “There’s a lot more smoking going on there now.”
Bartz said a handful of manufacturers in the last year tried a new variety of Maryland and carried with him. Dry, hot weather made for a particularly good growing season, he said.
Bartz said the Maryland-cultural diversity of local farmers brought between $ 1.80 and $ 2 a pound, depending on the variety. This is comparable with the prices of Wisconsin-manifold tobacco that some manufacturers like Oberdeck, rising in tandem with a variety of Maryland.
This year, about 25 farmers are growing a new variety, and many of those who grew up in the last year have doubled their acreage this year and replaced the less popular areas of chewing tobacco.
“It’s true that we’re down to fewer growers than ever, but this new (Maryland) variety is allowing those who want to grow it to stay in the game,” Bartz said
Oberdeck and diversity of Maryland Sayre said not much more difficult to grow than Wisconsin variety of tobacco, although, unlike chewing tobacco, smoking tobacco should be sorted into separate classes.
It should also be set for a few weeks earlier. Oberdeck said he got his plants this year from the greenhouse in Michigan. He said that he had learned in the past year, as opposed to chewing tobacco, a variety of Maryland should be moved to the warehouse soon as it is defined, or the sun can burn and cause damage.
Oberdeck said despite the training, it’s nice having a tobacco crop in the ground that is in demand.
“Sometimes change is good, I guess,” he said.