Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Tobacco is the major cash crop of Virginia, it takes much care to grow and harvest. The benefit was that between 1620 and 1660, the demand for tobacco in England was higher than the supply for it, so if someone only grew a little bit they could still make a large profit from it while the few colonist who could grow a lot of it become very wealthy. The wealthiest had farms near the Potomac and James rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, this allows the trading boats to sail right up to the farm and get the tobacco.

How did this all happen though? Back in 1700s, the colonist weren't able to grow good tobacco. Why?, it was because the local variety was just to bitter, so a man named John Rolfe began to experiment with the seeds. He used seeds imported from Trinidad and crossbred them with the local variety and then created a new curing method. In 1614 Rolfe shipped about 2,600 pounds of the new tobacco to England. Although it wasn't as good as Spanish tobacco, it sold for a good price. This caused the colonist to quickly start planting large quanities of tobacco. Now we put the tobacco in huge wooden barrels called hogsheads. Once these hogsheads are filled they weigh close to 1,000 pounds