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Whole Leaf Tobacco

White Burley vs. Red burley

Jitterbugdude

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#1
Am I correct in assuming that all Burley grown today is "white" burley and that "red" no longer exists except perhaps as the Perique cultivar?

Randy B
 

deluxestogie

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#2
Randy,
As I read the historical material on the origin of "White Burley," in Killebrew, for example, the strain seems to have been a freak mutation, and been notably frail as a seedling.

The White Burley, while growing, has a pale-green or greenish-white color, and the leaves grow closely on the stalk; consequently a plant having the same number of leaves is not so tall as those of many other varieties. It is very delicate when young, is more sensitive to the heat of the sun or continued wet than any other kind, and is not a favorite variety with the less careful cultivators because of this tenderness of constitution, which causes it to perish easily when transplanted. A stand is therefore difficult to obtain. Two weeks are generally required for it to become established after transplanting, but when it begins to grow it outstrips the other varieties, and is ready for harvesting two weeks earlier than any other variety planted at the same time. Originating from the Red Burley by cross-fertilization, there is a very decided tendency to revert to the original type. The first years after it originated the White Burley, after curing, was silky, fine, and light-bodied, with a yellow color on the upper surface and white beneath. It grows thicker and less delicate every year, and it is believed that the retroversion to its original type will in a few more years be complete.
...
The White Burley had its origin in Brown county [Ohio]. A farmer named George Webb, living near Higginsport, in that county, in the year 1864 sowed his seed-bed with Red Burley seed, which is said to have come from the farm of Joseph W. Barkley, of Bracken county, Kentucky. The plants came up and except in one particular spot were very healthy. Here they had a whitish, sickly appearance, and when the time came for setting out his crop these were left in the bed, as they were thought to be worthless. Finding, however, that he still lacked enough to set two rows, he returned to his seed-bed and drew out the sickly-looking plants and used them, rather than go to a neighbor for a quantity sufficient to finish his crop. For two or three weeks the white plants seemed to grow but little, but when they became well rooted they grew with greater rapidity, and the tobacco grew rapidly to fine size, retaining all its creamy richness of color, and ripening two weeks earlier than any other tobacco in the field. When cured in the ordinary way, by atmospheric influences, it was discovered that on the underside of the leaf there was a whitish tinge, while the upper side was of a beautiful golden yellow.
...
The White Burley is losing some of its distinctive features. At first the stalk and leaves were white, but each successive year shows a larger proportion of green. The original White Burley, when cured, had a golden surface, but this golden color is giving place to a yellowish -brown or red, and each successive crop shows a nearer approach to the Red Burley.
...
...tobacco produced in Kanawha [WV]...is darker, heavier, and richer than the same type grown along the Ohio river.... In the Kanawha district the leaves are cured on the stalks; in the Ohio river counties the bulk of the product is pulled from the stalks, and only the leaves are housed. The Kanawha tobacco is riper when cut, and is tougher and more waxy; the product of the river counties is thinner, more tender, and brighter in color.
My understanding of "retroversion," as understood in the 19th Century, was simply the result of inadequate understanding of how to suitably maintain varietal purity in counties where many different strains were grown. I suspect that little, if any, pure White Burley still exists, and that most of the numerous Burley varieties bear traits of countless other tobacco varieties.

As to whether pure Red Burley still exists, I would assume it's still with us, to some extent, in all of the darker Burley varieties.

Bob
 

BigBonner

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#4
I am wondering if the heirloom varietys may be a red burley like Green brior burley . I planted some this year next to my regular burley . The stalks were green the leaves were Dark green and they stood out from my TN 90 Burley . When the green brior cured out it was a dark red But it looked alot like my Maryland 609 . My burley stalks are white to yellow .
 

deluxestogie

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#5
Larry,
I looked at a photo of Green Brior on the New Hope Seed website. It does appear to be a darker variety than my Kelly Burley, which shows white to yellow stalks and veins. So maybe we should tentatively consider Green Brior a "Red Burley" variety--at least by appearance.

Bob
 

BigBonner

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#8
I have zoomed up on all my pictures and commercial Burley is the only one with a white stalk and leaf stem . You can pick these dark green leaves and stalks out of my regular burley, if there is one you could tell the difference between day light and dark . I know that we would always have a few stalks of tobacco that would be dark green in each field back before I started raising other types of tobacco .

I know 11 of those burley varietys on http://nicotianaproject.net/burley.htm are commercial varietys I have grown them in years past . I may go back to TN 86 this year

Here is a picture of the green brior I grew
 
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