Cigars: From Seed to Shelf Part III
Written by Kevin Godbee

Monday, 16 March 2009

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rolling and growingseed to shelf
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Sending Them Out Into the World
About a month after that, sometime in October, the seedlings are ready for the next step and that takes them out into the fields where they will grow till harvest time. These fields have also been prepared with the addition of fertilizer and other additives to give the new plants the right pH balance that they require.

Not every one of the seedlings is transplanted. The farmers only select the strongest seedlings to be moved for there is some shock to the plants from the move; weak plants won't survive the transplanting. How would you feel if you were comfortable and feeling quite at home where you were only to find that someone was digging you up and moving you to a whole new area?

From October onwards the heat of summer has gone but there is still plenty of warmth in every day and that's what the new tobacco plants need. They're planted in shallow furrows quite to close to each other and from then on their future is rarely in doubt.


Before the transplanting commences the farmer has already decided what the leaf from each plant will be used for. Leaves that will be used as wrappers will usually be planted in an area that will receive more direct sunlight than say the leaves that are used in the very best cigars. The tobacco plants that have been chosen to produce that premium quality leaf will be planted in areas that can be protected by shade-cloth.

During the growing season the plants will receive regular applications of fertilizer to help them grow and pesticides to keep pests and fungus away. They will also be irrigated if the rainfall is not enough to sustain the correct growth rate. The soil around each plant is also kept free of weeds ... often by hand-weeding ... and it will also be carefully dug over so that it doesn't become compacted.

Early tobacco varieties were much stronger than the hybrids that farmers grow today and the warm climate in which they grow can see things happen very quickly. So the farmer is constantly in the field, monitoring the health of his plants and ensuring that no pests or fungus can take control of his crop.

Like all plants the tobacco plant sees its sole purpose as reproduction so it works towards developing flowers and growing seeds ... for the tobacco plant the leaves that are so important to us are nothing more than a by-product so it puts all its efforts into growing those flowers. However those flowers are of no use to us or for the farmer so part of the cultivation includes removing the buds as they appear at the top of the plant.

As those buds are removed more of the effort the plant is putting in to producing those flowers is redirected to the leaves and of course that makes us ... and the farmer very happy. Obviously not every tobacco plant is de-budded for if they were there would be no seed to sow next season.

Now all that seems like an incredible amount of effort to put into growing a crop. Constantly having people in the field watching and caring for the plants is so labor-intensive and yet that's the effort every tropical tobacco farmer is prepared to put in to grow the very best tobacco for our cigars.


0 # potential growerRuth 2009-04-25 08:27
I would like parts I and II Just found your website.

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