Plantation Farming

Plantation farming was a system of agriculture in which large farms in the American colonies used the forced labor of slaves to plant and harvest cotton, rice, sugar, tobacco and other farm produce for trade and export. The crops were planted on a large scale requiring a mass labor force and that specialized in the growth of one major plant species. A Few Facts About Plantation Farming

  • Crops were planted on a large scale with usually just one major plant species.
  • The crops ideally suited to plantation farming in the Southern colonies were cotton, tobacco, rice, sugar cane and indigo (a purple dye).
  • The waterways of the south provided a natural transport system.
  • The climate favored the farming in the south; mild winters and hot, humid summers made it possible to grow crops throughout the year.
  • The fertile soil of the south was well suited to growing plants used in plantation farming.
  • The longer a crop's harvest period, the more efficient was plantation farming.
  • To make enough profits, cheap labor was used. The use of slaves in the Southern colonies was extensive.
  • As the number of slaves grew it allowed for expansion to different plantation crops.
  • The use of slaves reduced the costs on the Plantations. They were not well fed, well housed or well treated and overworked (18 hrs. a day).
  • Crops were traded for items that could not be produced on the plantations including shoes, lace, thread, farm tools and dishes.
  • Plantation farming in the South evolved over 200 years - it did not happen at once.
  • The sheer size of the land covered made the plantations to a large degree, self-sufficient and similar to a small village with the main house, slave quarters, a dairy, blacksmith's shop, laundry, smokehouse and barns.

  • Source: Plantation Farming
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