Are you interested in growing a cigar plant? Would you like to diversify your agricultural activity towards this plant? Are you curious to know how cigar plant cultivation works to evaluate potential sowing? If you are asking yourself all these questions, you are reading the right article. Today I want to talk to you about the cigar plant and everything you need to know to start cultivation.
Cigar plant care
Cigar plant falls into the category of aromatic plants, all those plants that give off particular flavors due to their essences or so-called aromatic compounds.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to know cigar plant when he landed in the Bahamas in 1492: tabaco was the name given to the dried leaves that the natives smoked. Over time, there has been a profound evolution in the cigar plant’s use: at first, it was cultivated to create cigars and pipe cutters. Today it is aimed at the consumption of cigarettes.
The largest cigar plant in the world is China, while Italy is in 9th place, growing cigar plant on about 47 thousand hectares and producing about 133 thousand tons of product.
Types of cigar plant
The cigar plant types are very many and vary according to the cultivar, the environments in which the crop grows, the cultivation technique, and the treatment done to the leaves after harvest, called “cure.”
The cigar plants most grown in Italy are Virginia, grown mainly in Umbria and Veneto, Burley, Paraguay, and Badischer, grown mainly in Campania, Kentucky, Tuscany, Herzegovina, and Xanthi Yakà, in Puglia, Perustitza, in Abruzzo, Havanna, and Maryland, in Lazio.
The PAU (useful agricultural product) of the cigar plant consists of the leaves, which are dried with particular procedures (cures). Each cigar plant has a different type of leaf, whose peculiar characteristics make it more or less suitable for sale and appreciated by the final customer. Knowing these characteristics is very important if you want to grow a cigar plant.
The cigar plant’s quality is defined by a set of particularities that come together in a complex group of compounds. While for other agricultural products, the quality is related to the sugar or starch or oil content, in cigar plant, the quality results from the balancing of a series of chemicals within the leaf.
The compounds that most affect cigar plant leaves’ quality are carbohydrates, nitrogen compounds, pigments, polyphenols, mineral elements, resins, and essential oils. On the other hand, other characters are essential for the organoleptic characteristics that will then influence the pleasure of smoking: nicotine content (strength), humidity, size and shape of the leaf, combustibility, taste, and aroma.
To know how to grow a cigar plant, we must remember that it is a subtropical plant plant, and therefore prefers short days to vegetate. The temperature needs at least 15 ° C to germinate and around 25-30 ° C to grow and flower. For this reason, it is essential to increasing a cigar plant only in the spring-summer period.
As far as the soil and water needs are concerned, cigar plant has adapted to the most disparate types of environment, and therefore the following list can be used:
- Dark cigar plant cured over direct fire: they want clayey, heavy and fertile soils, high temperatures, and moderate rainfall.
- Oriental cigar plants treated in the sun: they require low fertility soils, pebbly and not very deep, no rain during the harvesting and care period.
- Clear cigar plants treated by indirect fire: loose soils with low organic fertility, large quantities of rains, and water supplies through irrigation.
- Light cigar plant cured in the air: they do not want water stress in any way and prefer deep, fertile, medium-textured, and well-ventilated soils.
- Dark cigar plants (for cigars and pipes) prefer heavy, fertile soils rich in organic matter.
grow cigar plant
Growing cigar plant
The soil must be plowed to a depth of 30-40 cm in the summer or autumn before transplanting. It is essential to carry out winter and spring harrowing.
Transplanting is an operation to be carried out as soon as the average temperature exceeds 15 ° C, therefore from April to June depending on the location. To date, a pure machine transplant is performed to save time, labor, and money. Immediately after the transplant, it is good to rinse to help the seedlings take root in the soil.
A vital operation to keep in mind when we want to cultivate a cigar plant is topping: it consists of sprouting the stem to favor the accumulation of reserve substances (nicotine) on a limited number of leaves, thus growing large, heavy, and strong. It is practiced in particular on Kentucky and Virginia cigar plants. It is usually made by hand or by trimming machines specially modified in height.
As far as ripening is concerned, this is the most delicate phase. Characters that can help us understand the maturity level of the cigar plant leaf are:
- The light green coloring of the flap.
- Internal yellowish marbling, starting from the apex and edges of the leaf extending towards the center.
- Downward curving of the apex and leaf margins.
- The leaves swell due to the accumulation of starch and, when bent, break with a clear and straight fracture.
- The leaf easily detaches from the stem.
- Release of resin makes the leaf sticky to the touch and gives off a strong odor.
The harvest can be done as a whole plant, cutting the plants at the base of the stem and letting them wither in the ground for a few hours, in leaves, cutting the leaves according to the degree of ripeness, and mixed, in which the low and low leaves are cut. Medium height at first, while the apical leaves are subsequently collected without worrying about their degree of ripeness.