Tobacco: "From the ground to the bales"
 
 
   

The tobacco process hasn't change much in the last 400 years. Some modern systems to improve the harvest had been added, but basically still the same.. At the present time due to economic and a decline in the market has reduced the amount of tobacco farms around the world in about 40%. Special conditions are necessary for a good crop for hand made cigars, likes the ones in Dominican Republic, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Indonesia, Cameroon & Morocco, are major tobacco producers.

 

     
   
 
 

 

During the months of July and August the soil is prepared for the planting of the seedlings. This are about 35 to 45 days at the time of planting and about 15 cm. The image on the right shows a tobacco nursery in Jamastran, Honduras.

   
 
 
 
 
 

 

Around six to eight weeks later the plants will be around 12 to 18 inches high and growing fast. The image on the left shows a tobacco field in Danlí, Honduras.

   
 
 

 

In this image the tobacco field at around 15 weeks and still growing. At this time the field is protected with pesticide and fertilizer. This tobacco farm in is the Dominican Republic.

   
   
 
   

 

The image shows the "picking" season, which is when the workers removed the leafs from the plants. At this time the plants has around 20 weeks. This tobacco farm is in Ecuador.

 
   
 
 

 

This shows a wrapper tobacco field; this is covered with a cheese cloth canvas in order to protect the leafs from direct sun and rain. This is the most delicate leaf in the tobacco field. From here 50% of the taste in the cigar is obtained. There are 6 major shades of wrappers.

   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The barn or drying house is very important part in the tobacco farm, in order to create the drying process and the fermentation. This image is from a drying house in Vuelta Abajo, Cuba.

 
 
 

 

This shows the workers sewing the leafs in pairs and hang them to a long pole. The leafs will be in the drying process for about three weeks. They will be set in levels inside the barn and periodically they will be moved up until reach the highest point in the drying house. This process takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks to complete.

 
 
   
 
   

 

This is inside the "drying house". The tobacco will stay in this drying process for a period of 20 to 30 days. They are three types of drying process used by the growers, sun drying, air drying and heat drying. Note the heaters in the floor in the image.

 
   
 
   

 

The image shows the dry tobacco hands hanging in the drying house.

After the leafs are dry they will be placed in the fermentation room. This process will also takes 25 to 30 days and is used to eliminate the resin and impurities in the tobacco.

 
   
 
 
 

 

A selector or grader will inspect the leafs based on size and quality prior packing. The image shows selecting wrapper leafs in a tobacco farm in Ecuador. This will determine the quality and price.

 

 
   
 
 

 

After tobacco leafs are selected, the bailing or packing process start. The leafs are in hands of 50 count in order to create the bale with a gross weight of 120 pounds gross. This image is in a tobacco farm in Ecuador.

   
   
 
   

After selection is completed the tobacco leafs will be pack in bales (tercios) to start the process of aging. This bales will be keep at 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent humidity for a period of 2 to 4 years. This control environment will enhance in the tobacco the aroma & bouquet. This is the most important part in the tobacco process.

As you can see takes a lot of dedication and knowledge to prepare the tobacco leafs..

 
   
  History Collections

Photos Courtesy of: Altadis, Corp. S.A. - CASJUCA, Ecuador - Hacienda Real, Dominican Republic & Oliva Tobacco Co.

 

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11-07-2015