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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

Tobacco Culture in the Antipodes

Tobacco Culture in the Antipodes.

The cultivation of tobacco is making very rapid progress in the Australian Colonies—notably in Victoria and New South Wales. In the latter the leaf has been a profitable industry for many years, and now Victoria is making a big bid to control and supply her own markets.

The possibilities of those lands are almost beyond conception, and the only reason why they have not hitherto developed a more active rivalry against our own people in the markets of the world is solely owing to the cost of labour. Asiatics are now restricted by a heavy poll tax, and, as no other form of cheap labour is possible, it may be taken for granted that America need fear no keen competition from their Australian cousins for many years to come. Of all these countries, Queensland is the most naturally suited to the growth of tobacco, but it is even more handicapped in the matter of labour than the others. The fact, though, that Connecticut and Virginia seed is being imported into Australia is indicative that the trade which we have enjoyed with such absolute immunity may one day be seriously assailed

The following letter is an account of the growth of tobacco leaf by T. Reynolds, Esq., Maori Hill, Dunedin:—

"I used Virginia seed. Do not know what variety. Grew tobacco for four or five years. Took some to London, where it was highly thought of.

page 10

"The plants grew luxuriantly, some over six feet, and the leaves as broad as rhubarb leaves. The ground was not freshly prepared—was planted in cleared bush soil, where the bush had been burnt off. The tobacco grew as luxuriantly as any I have seen in Portugal. A man who saw the crop, and could compare the same with Virginian crop, was amazed at its luxuriance. The plants apparently required—1st, shelter; 2nd, good aspect; 3rd, not too much moisture. The product was even, year after year. Mr Reynolds only sundried it. The tobacco smoked very well, with a good flavour. Considers the crop could easily be raised on the Peninsula. He never grew it anywhere else, but believes it would grow on sheltered spots right down the coast. He planted it in the early seventies."