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This is a very familiar scene to me. I remember doing this back in the 1940's. These ladies are sitting on stools, but we had guano bags filled with pine straw to sit on. This protected the tender plants from being crushed. The bowed, narrow sticks, or bamboo reeds, were used to keep the canvas cover from touching the plants. The canvas, that has been rolled up and placed on the side, covered the bed shortly after the seeds were planted. This protected them from the cold, harsh February weather and blustery March winds. When I helped "set out" tobacco we used hand transplanters and "tobacco pegs", made from "fat lighterd" knots from the long leaf pine. The transplanter had a compartment to hold water, so when you put the plant in the hole, you could, also water it. It was a tedious process, but after a period of time, we got the job done!
These people are "pulling" plants from the tobacco beds where the plants have grown from very small seeds under the protection of the cloth that is rolled over to the side. The pulled plants will then be given to the people who will ride the "transplanter" and they will "drop" the individual plants into the holes that have been made by the transplanter. It takes two people to plant one row of tobacco on a transplanter as one person "drops" every other plant into the hole as the transplanter moves along the row.
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