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Old 08-27-2007, 11:36 PM
 
Location: Minnesota
448 posts, read 668,568 times
Reputation: 444

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We just returned to Minnesota after a week in Bristol. Had a great time, loved the people and the scenery. On the way home we began to notice all the barns that are painted (is it paint?) black rather than the traditional red or white. I assume there is a reason related to the climate or what used to be stored in the barns. We spent quite a bit of time coming up with explanations, most of them being silly. I want to be the smart one who has the correct answer. Can anyone help me out?
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:26 AM
 
Location: Kingsport, TN
1,549 posts, read 3,552,200 times
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Default tobacco barns are usually...

painted black to absorb the sun's rays and raise the interior temperature, which hastens the tobacco-curing process.
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:39 AM
 
Location: Minnesota
448 posts, read 668,568 times
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I love it! That was exactly what I had guessed, but then we began debating where they actually grew tobacco. We saw some small plots of what we thought was tobacco, but they seemed to be more on the line of large gardens, not crops to make a living. Thanks for backing me. Now I get to tell them I was right!!!
Next question: Is it paint? The way some where faded it almost looked like it was more of an oil sealant.
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Kingsport, TN
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Default tobacco production has waned...

considerably in NE Tenn. in recent years; it's just not as lucrative as it used to be. Many farmers around here supplement their incomes w/ small tobacco plots, but a dwindling few try to make a living from it. I believe Tennessee's still in the top 3 nationally in tobacco production, however.

I'm not absolutely sure but I think that traditionally, the barns were painted w/ an oil-based paint that would be soaked up like a stain by the weathered, porous wood.
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Old 08-28-2007, 05:53 PM
 
Location: Knoxville, TN
2,173 posts, read 5,020,272 times
Reputation: 1435
Quote:
Originally Posted by missmousern View Post
I love it! That was exactly what I had guessed, but then we began debating where they actually grew tobacco. We saw some small plots of what we thought was tobacco, but they seemed to be more on the line of large gardens, not crops to make a living. Thanks for backing me. Now I get to tell them I was right!!!
Next question: Is it paint? The way some where faded it almost looked like it was more of an oil sealant.
Tobacco growing is being actively cut back by the Federal Government through the buyout program. Spend some time in Tennessee and you'll hear about "buyout money."
Tobacco has always been heavily regulated by the Feds. Farmers who wanted to grow it were required to own or lease a tobacco quota from someone. These were traded for cash and/or inherited.
Through a settlement with the tobacco companies to raise the price of cigarettes and cut consumption, the federal govenment is buying out the quotas.
"The National Tobacco Growers Settlement Trust (the Trust) was established by Phillip Morris, Inc., Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation, Lorillard Tobacco Company and RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company to compensate tobacco quota owners and growers for potential reductions in their tobacco production and sales. These reductions are expected to result from the Master Settlement Agreement, a $206 billion court settlement between the major cigarette manufacturers and 46 state attorneys general. This settlement compensates state governments for the expenses incurred in the treatment of tobacco-related illness through government-sponsored health insurance programs like Medicaid.
In order to finance this settlement, the major cigarette manufacturers have implemented steep price increases. They expect these increases to lower demand for their products and consequently to lower demand for American-grown tobacco. In an effort to lessen the economic impact of the Master Settlement Agreement on tobacco quota owners and growers, the cigarette manufacturers agreed to establish the Trust."
More info here:
Agricultural Policy Analysis Center - The University of Tennessee - Tobacco Quota Buyout (broken link)
It's a difficult time of transition. Tennessee is trying to work with the farmers to help them establish market gardens and "boutique vegetable" farms to replace the money they got from tobacco. Tennessee doesn't want to lose the small farmers.
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:28 PM
 
Location: Kenai Peninsula, AK
5,559 posts, read 9,317,246 times
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My family was a 35 acre tobacco farm -- now down to 10 or 12, with 25 acres of squash instead. NE TN was once a Burley capitol!
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Old 06-30-2012, 06:43 PM
 
1 posts, read 4,119 times
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Cool Why are the barns black?

Barns painted black in KY, TN and nearby, generally use a low cost mix of tar and oil ingredients for a low cost coating to protect and preserve the wooden structure, NOT to absorb solar to heat the wood or any contents in the barn!
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Old 06-30-2012, 08:53 PM
 
Location: Kingsport, TN
1,549 posts, read 3,552,200 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tobacco Engineer View Post
Barns painted black in KY, TN and nearby, generally use a low cost mix of tar and oil ingredients for a low cost coating to protect and preserve the wooden structure, NOT to absorb solar to heat the wood or any contents in the barn!
Sounds like the black paint/coating was multi-purpose. FWIW...

Burley barns were often painted in the Kentucky and Tennessee regions during the twentieth century...The black paint was created from a tar mixture that was less expensive and more durable that regular paint (Hart and Mather 1961, 282, 283). Many barns were painted black to absorb more of the sun's heat, thereby inducing a shorter curing time (Vlach, John Michael. 2003. Barns. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, p. 188).
http://www.preservationmaryland.org/...0MPD_Final.pdf

Black barns raise the heat inside, aiding the curing of tobacco. Many got their color from creosote, which repelled termites. Soon many Kentucky barns were painted black just as a fashion statement.
A traditional black Kentucky tobacco barn
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