The process of growing tobacco, on the other hand, is quite fascinating. The plant itself - the leaf, the stalk and all, is very sticky due to the tar being produced, and in handling them, the cultivator's hands become extremely sticky, as well. This would make for a very dirty day of working as everything would cling to the hands and clothing of the cultivator (We're talking about enslaved people, of course.).
During the Colonial Williamsburg Teachers Institute, when we visited the farm, we were instructed that it was our job to pick the suckers off of the plants. I think most of us assumed the term suckers referred to the worms that might be crawling around, munching on the leaves of the plants. While we were to be on the lookout for caterpillars, suckers actually refer to something else altogether.
The top portions of the tobacco plants are cut off at a certain point, tricking the plant. The plant, still makes enough nutrients for the entire plant, but with three feet cut off of the top, all of the nutrients are concentrated in the leaves remaining, making for a richer, more flavorful, harvest. At the same time, there are so many nutrients that the plant tries to use them to create new leaves. That's a no-no. These new leaves are called suckers, and as they form, they must be pinched off, keeping the nutrients focused into the larger, more desirable leaves.
Eventually the leaves are harvested and hung in a warm, dry barn to dry. Later these are ground into flakes that can be used in habit of smoking.