Back then, Tommy worked one acre of land. Today, his tobacco crop spreads out across 23 acres on the Fincastle Farm near East Jessamine High School.
When he started, a person could fertilize by hand - not so today.
"Fertilizing is done with tractors and fertilizer trucks," Tommy said.
Tommy leases out 520 acres of his land to other farmers at Fincastle Farm, and he owns 88 acres at his Spring Hill Farm near Sugar Creek in southern Jessamine County.
There's been other changes, Tommy said, but the biggest change has been in trying to find a labor pool to help take in the crop.
"To harvest, you try to get 12 to 15 workers, if you can find them," he said. "The labor situation is really bad. People are wanting to do other things."
The lack of labor, is one of the main reasons the 2006 tobacco harvest will be Burton's last.
"It's been good to me," he said. "I used to enjoy it when I could get plenty of help, but now, I don't enjoy it anymore."
Unlike other forms of farming where machines can do much of the work, raising tobacco is back-breaking work. When the crop is ready for harvest, Tommy Burton said three to four-foot drop stick is used to tie the plants together.
"Every two rolls is what you call a stick roll," he said. "An acre will cut out probably 1,150 to 1,200 sticks."
Once the tobacco is on the stick roll, it is taken to one of the barns where it is hung from the ceiling to dry. There are several levels in the barn that accommodate the tobacco plants.
Tommy's wife of 14 years, Jane, said she understands his decision to get out of the tobacco business.
"At his age, and the labor that we have to have is not here anymore," she said. "He's just gotten to the point where he can't get in the barns and do what he used to do."
Throughout his years as a tobacco farmer, Tommy has seen many ups and downs.
"In 2005, I bushhogged seven acres up because of the dry weather," he said. "We just didn't have enough rain and a disease called blackshank."
For every off year, he said there have been bountiful years. He expects his 23 acre crop to yield about 48,000 to 50,000 pounds of tobacco which will sell for $1.55 to 1.60 per pound, depending on the grade.
"This year has been a good crop," he said.
Tommy said the land in Jessamine County gives his tobacco a uniqueness which tobacco companies pine for.
"It's just got better texture," he said. "It gives it a milder flavor."
There are three basic grades of tobacco: fines, lugs and tips. The fines are the bottom of the plant, lugs are in the middle of the plant, and the tips are the plant's top.
The top grade is found in the tip, he said.
As he get ready to hang his final harvest in on of his three drying barns, Tommy said the future of tobacco farming, at least tobacco farming in Jessamine County, is bleak.
"The buyout took a lot of it away," he said. "People don't raise it. And the labor situation is bad. That will be what causes it to go out."
He also said there aren't many young farmers interested in raising tobacco in this area.
"The average age of a tobacco farmer anymore is 55 or 56 years old," he said. "There's very few young men in the county that's raising tobacco."
Even though Tommy is getting out of the tobacco growing business, that doesn't mean his days as a farmer are over.
"I'm going to keep farming corn, cattle and hay," he said.
Tommy owns 160 head of beef cattle, and grows 15 acres worth of corn. The corn and hay is used to feed his livestock.
Jane isn't worried about her husband become bored once this year's tobacco crop is harvested.
"He loves the farm and raising the cattle and corn," she said. "I think he's going to be able to keep himself occupied."
After this final tobacco crop, Tommy said the 23 acres will be used for grass and hay for his livestock.
He said as long as his health holds out, he'll be out on the farm for another few years.