As two recent barn fires in Trigg County prove, however, that diligence must continue over the 30 to 35 days during which tobacco leaves are cured.
“It’s a fire — you just don’t set it and forget it,” said David Fourqurean, County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The smoldering fires used for curing tobacco are created using eight-foot hardwood slabs covered with saw-dust about a knee deep. The slabs allow air to circulate, feeding the fire, while the sawdust keeps the fire from flaming up.
Fourqurean said most farmers will check their barns between two and three times a day and will sometimes check them in the middle of the night, if conditions are windy.
He said this diligence is the most important part of protecting a tobacco barn from fire.
Fourqurean also said barns should be properly ventilated. This is especially important should the fire go out and need to be relit.
In those cases, the barn should be allowed to ventilate before the fire is reignited, as the fire and tobacco itself produces methane gas that can fill a poorly ventilated barn. This gas will ignite if an improperly ventilated barn doesn’t allow it to escape.
For the rest of this article, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.