Ripeness comes first on bottom leaves and goes up day after day. As soon as the green color of the foot leaves starts becoming a light pale, it is time to pick up without delay. If you wait too long, the color turns fast to yellow and it is too late: tobacco will come out thin like cigarette paper, with a very sharp taste. In comparison, because they are thicker, top leaves take longer to ripe. Very often, the farmer has to stop harvesting a few days after having picked the upper-middle leaves, just to let the top leaves reach the proper ripeness. Just-in-time harvesting is very important for cigar tobaccos in general and particularly for wrappers. If you are looking to buy Cigars Online then take at our massive online inventory at El Cigar Shop or call today. 215-576-5300
Favoring Leaf Development
The leaves are a useful part of the tobacco plant. The farmer has to remove the greedy and useless parts of the plant: buds coming at the petiole of the leaves and blossoms. The more buds and blossoms are removed, the more nutrients go to the leaves which in turn can become very large and thick. For some types of wrapper tobaccos, blossoms are not cut so leaves can stay thin. For some types of fillers, buds are removed and the stalk is cut above the 12th leaf. The leaves grow to 25 inches and up, and are thick like leather.
Tobacco is a fast-growing plant that needs a lot of nutrients to develop properly. Even when fertilizers are used, the soil is impoverished. It is often impossible to yield tobacco crops on the same land for two consecutive years so farmers must rotate, interspersing regenerative cultivation.
In order to ease the feeding and the development of the plants in the tobacco fields, the lower leaves, which are useless, are picked out. Then the grower earths up the plants and new roots are going to grow in place of the removed leaves. Earthing up also helps the plant to stand and to resist better to strong winds.
Adjusting leaves characteristics to industry requirements
The tobacco industry requires leaves with a specific texture and size. To reach their goal, the grower uses different techniques. One is to play with the density: number of plants per acre. The more plants per acre, the smaller and thinner the leaves will be. Another one is to top the plants: fewer leaves on a stalk makes for larger and thicker leaves. That is easy to understand: for a given amount of nutrients, the fewer mouths you have to feed, the more everyone is going to eat. In fact, in each growing area, and for each type of tobacco, standards are settled for density and topping.
A Ride for Wrapper Picking
As far as the wrapper is concerned, tobacco has to be picked leaf by leaf. It's tough work, it's generally in the summertime, and workers have to be careful not to break leaves. Tobacco growers have invented a very the helpful machine to collect the leaves, avoiding too many people walking in the tobacco rows. A 2ft wide belt is laid down between two rows of plants. One end is attached to a core set in action by pedals like the rear wheel of a bicycle. Only one worker goes in the row, picks the 2 or 3 leaves from each plant, and puts down the leaves flat on the belt. Once he reaches the end of the row, a guy starts pedaling, rolling up the belt around the core while two people, one on each side of the belt, remove the leaves and put them into baskets. At the picking season, you can see tens of these machines aligned on the edge of the fields.
Tobacco Field to Rolled Cigar