Weeding and Suckering

Weeding and Suckering Facts: Although weed control is largely achieved with chemical application of herbicides to the soil before planting and to the plantings later on, there are still weeds that can only be controlled manually. Tobacco typically grows an inch a day, so removing the “suckers” or smaller leaves, can begin as early as six weeks after planting. It’s a necessary process to help make room for new and larger leaves, but also a delicate one.

Major Components:

  • Weed removal using a hoe, with varying soil conditions and temperatures
  • At risk for chemical exposure, heat exposure and ergonomic hazards
  • The early season picks are for suckering the plant, removing the small sprouting leaves in between the larger lower leaves. For a leaf to be marketable, it has to be blemish-free — no spots, holes or creases.
  • Early morning weeding and suckering leave workers soaking wet from dew. Later in the day when the plants warm up, tobacco juice is a more common source of moisture.