How to Grow Tobacco

Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco
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Author:  Skychaser [ Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco

Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco, Found in Utah Desert ... ah-desert/

In the dead-flat desert of northwestern Utah, archaeologists have uncovered a scene from a distant, and more verdant, time. Just a few centimeters below the sun-baked surface, researchers have discovered a campsite used by prehistoric hunter-gatherers 12,300 years ago — when Utah’s West Desert was lush wetland.

Artifacts found at the site include the charred remains of an ancient hearth, a finely crafted spear point, and, most surprising, a collection of tobacco seeds — likely the earliest evidence of tobacco use ever found in North America.

“What makes this interesting is there’s no direct evidence of anybody using tobacco past 3,000 years ago,” said Dr. Daron Duke, senior archaeologist with the Nevada-based Far Western Anthropological Research Group, in a press statement. “And this was 12,000-plus years ago!”

Duke and his colleagues made the find in the remote reaches of U.S. Air Force’s Utah Test and Training Range, a proving grounds in the salt flats west of Salt Lake City. The Air Force contracted with Duke’s firm in 2015 to survey thousands of acres of the range that had never been explored before by archaeologists. After finding a scattering of artifacts near the surface, the team returned this summer to excavate.

“In the first week, we have collected over 60 items around the feature,” said Sarah Rice, Far Western senior archaeologist, referring to the hearth. “In fact, something like this has never been found in North America before.”

In addition to the spear tip and seeds, the researchers have found many stone flakes left over from the tool-making process, as well as the broken bones of ducks and geese — trash left behind by hungry Ice Age hunters.

“In this location, we see possibly a more generalized diet of several species of ducks, which is not surprising [for people] working and living in a wetland,” said D. Craig Young, a senior geoarchaeologist with Far Western.

“Also of significance is that these people were carrying their big-game tool kits, as evidenced by the big point found right next to the hearth.” The team found tools, charcoal, water fowl bone fragments, and tooling flakes, which provide evidence of wetlands and human presence in the area more than 12,000 years ago.

The spear point that the team discovered is 8 to 10 centimeters long, and seems to be over-engineered for hunting birds, Young said. “One wouldn’t think that was being used to capture ducks,” Young observed. “It could have been used to process the water fowl, but those large points tend to be associated with hunting of large game.” Indeed, the campsite is not far from another striking find that Duke and his colleagues made a few years ago.

Elsewhere on the same range in 2015, Duke reported a staggering array of more than 1,000 large stone points, some of which were found to contain traces of elephant residue, providing the first evidence of mammoth hunting in the Great Basin.

Those tools, like the newly found campsite, date to a time when the Ice Age-climate made the West Desert almost unrecognizable to modern eyes, Duke said. “The Great Basin is now arid, but at that time it was maybe 10 to 15 degrees cooler on average, a much cooler environment,” he said. “This is why there were rivers, lakes, and marshy wetland ecosystems.”

In fact, a dark layer of sediment is still visible in the area, where marshy organic matter had been compressed into a sort of mat, which is still rich with the remains of plants, fowl, and fish. It was this layer, referred to as a “black mat,” that provided the radiocarbon date of 12,300 years. The people who lived and worked in this fecund environment were some of the first known inhabitants of the Great Basin, Duke said.

“There are questions about the significance of these people,” Duke said. “They really are the first occupants of the Great Basin that we can demonstrate. “We do know that by 13,000 years ago … we get evidence of people in this area and the Great Basin. The people then seemed to be pretty transitory. They might have seen megafauna and possibly were hunting mammoths and giant forms of bison.”

But as the climate changed at the end of the last Ice Age, so too, did the lifeways of the people who once used this campsite. “These people had a unique landscape for thousands of years,” Duke added. “Toward the end of this period, for people who had the run of North America, things were drying up, and this could have been one of the last places they decided to make use of.”

Exactly where these ancient hunters moved to, and who they became, remains a mystery. And so does the provenance of those tobacco seeds. “It’s a new world plant, not a plant from the other side of the world, so obviously this raises a lot of questions,” Duke said.

But places like the Utah Test and Training Range are likely rife with more, and similar, Ice Age sites. More research in places like this can yield new, important signs of life from the distant, hard-to-imagine past, the researchers noted.

As Anya Kitterman, an Air Force archaeologist, said in the statement, “This site, and other similar sites nearby … will help us gain further insight into the prehistoric fabric that makes up this unique landscape.”

Author:  rustycase [ Mon Aug 01, 2016 10:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco


That's a Long time ago, Sky !

Neato article !!

Author:  Skychaser [ Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco

Yup. It was a looooong time ago. About 9000 years earlier than tobacco was previously believed to have been used by humans.The seeds must be from N. Qaudravalvis, Clevelandii or Biglovia. If you have ever collected seeds from these nicotianas, you know it takes a lot of effort to get very little seed. Seems very unlikely to me they were used as a food source. More likely they were scattering them around the area where they lived.

Hey RC, Remember that Clevlandii you found growing in a wash a few years ago? And I made you hike back out there and get me a few seeds? lol Ever since I grew them out they have been coming up wild here and are slowly spreading. I found a few blooming yesterday that are growing out behind my wood pile in some bone dry crappy soil. Tough plant.

Author:  JPSDK [ Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco

Skychaser. You seem to know a lot obaot Nicotiana species.
I have been wondering where the Tobacco plant came from, and what its natual habitat was.
I imagined a river bank plant, or a monsoon adaptation, so that the Wind could blow the seeds around in the dry season, and them sprouting in the wet season.

Author:  Skychaser [ Tue Aug 02, 2016 11:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco

The family of nicotianas is diverse. Most are found in the Americas, but there are types of nicotiana that grow wild in Australia and I believe also in Africa. Native Americans in the west harvested wild N. Qaudravalvis, Clevelandii or Biglovia. Originally found only in the SW states, all 3 species were spread by Native Americans and can now be found growing throughout all the western states, British Columbia, and even as far north Glacier Bay in SE Alaska. None of these species are closely related to N Tobaccum.

N. Rustica is native to Central America and the northern part of South America. It was widely cultivated and spread throughout the Americas over time and even found it's way to Easter Island. The different strains we see today evolved over time and were influenced by the local regions they were grown in. There is little if any evidence that Rusticas were grown in the north western US or Canada, but they were widely grown across the southern and eastern parts of North America as far north as Hudson's Bay. N. Rustica is also not closely related to N. Tobaccum, but close enough to get crosses if done correctly. But it ain't easy and it isn't known to happen in nature.

N. Tobaccum is native only to South America and probably originally evolved in the Orinoco River region. It is the result of a 1 in a 100 million natural crossing of N. Sylvestris and N. Tomentosa around 200,000 years ago. At least that's the best estimate on the time frame. For a long time it was debated which nicotianas were the parental origin of Tobaccum. A few years back DNA analysis proved conclusively that Sylvestris and Tomentosa were the original ancestors. What made the crossing unique is that Tobaccums have 2 sets of genes where as each parent has only one. This mutation led us to all modern day N. Tobaccum strains.

I have grown both. Sylvestris is a beautiful plant in the way it grows and blooms. It is a great plant for the flower garden. Humming Birds love it. And it's easy to grow and makes a pretty decent smoke.

I am growing Tomentosa this year. I had a go at it last year but it didn't flower before I ran out of growing season. I had a very difficult time in sprouting the seed both years. Nothing sprouted this year at all until I moved it to the greenhouse along with the other varieties that had all sprouted. It took nearly a month more before it finally came up. Since then it has done well. The seed seems to be very photo-dormant, meaning it needs sunlight to break down the enzymes coating the seed before it can sprout. I have seen photo-dormancy in a few Tobaccum strains but only in 3-4 of the 300 strains I have grown. And never so strongly. In Tobaccums, a few have always come up within a week. Looks like a batch of seed with a very low germ rate. But when moved to the greenhouse and into full sun, they all come up in a week. Another thing I learned about Tomentosa is that it is also photo sensitive as to when it blooms. It needs the shortening of daylight to trigger blooming. So this year I have them in pots so they can go into the greenhouse in September before it freezes here. That will give them until November to to bloom when I shut down the greenhouse for the year. If they haven't bloomed by then, I guess they become house plants. My wife will love that. lol


Author:  JPSDK [ Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco

Thank you skychaser. You provide very usefull information.
I like the word photo-dormancy, that is something to take into account: That light also influences the blooming time, can explain why all my plants bloomed at the same time, no matter the size, sort of.
So N. tabacum is a cromosome double like beetroots, but a natural one. And it is a tropical plant, maybe even a rainforest plant. That would explain why my plants in the greenhouse grow so big in the tropical environment there. It also explains why my plants have not grown much, the last couple of (cold) days.

Author:  rustycase [ Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco

Of course I remember, sky !
I took your advice and made a few trips down into the riverbed to check on progress... as you had said, in nature, things may happen quickly !

I've made no recent trips down there, because of the worsening of the drought conditions here.
The boys have found one remaining swimming hole where they take the dogs, though... that was a few weeks ago, at that, and it is probably gone by now.


Author:  Skychaser [ Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco

The sprouting of seeds is regulated by several enzymes which coat the seed. Some are broken down by light, some by moisture, some by heat or cold, and some break down over time. They act as timers to tell the seed when it is time to sprout. I usually wait at least 2-3 months after harvest before I send tobacco seed off to the lab to be germ tested. I get better test results if they have sat for a while first. Tobacco seeds requirement for light to germinate is generally very low to non-existent in most strains. I germinate all mine indoors in a room where they don't get anything but indirect window light. It's worked great for all but 3-4.

Blooming seems to me to be largely determined by how old the plant is. Maturity in tobacco is defined as being when the flowers have opened on 50% of the plants. Days to maturity is quoted as being the number of days from when the plant is set out into the field, and not from when the seed was planted. Tobacco needs 8 weeks to go from a seed to a plant ready for the field. Add 8 weeks to the days to maturity number and you'll get an average date to go from sprouting to blooming. So if a strain is said to be mature in 60 days on average, add another 56 days from planting and you get 116 days. Environmental conditions cause this to vary some, but give or take a week, I have found this to be the pattern with nearly all the tobaccos I have grown. Very few seem to be photo sensitive as to when they will bloom. I have only found few that are. Tomentosa seems to need both strong sunlight to sprout and shortening days to trigger flowering.

Kinda drifted off topic here. Maybe we should start a new one where I can tell you everything I think I know. lol


Author:  JPSDK [ Thu Aug 04, 2016 1:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco

Thats fine Sky. I listen and learn.

Author:  BruceBear [ Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ice Age Hunting Camp, Replete With Bird Bones and Tobacco

I find all that info very fascinating, thanks Skychaser.
I have a keen interest in archaeology too and always keep my eyes open for stone tools in this area.
One thing about that ice age article that puzzles me though - "Its a new world plant, not a plant from the other side of the world, so obviously this raises a lot of questions", Duke said --- hang on, in my mind North and South America are the new world continents,
and this site is in why would that raise questions? I would have questions if it was a plant from the other side of the world, but it isn't...
Any questions would be related to the migration of tobacco through the Americas..., right?


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