Raising your own tobacco.

Rod

Administrator
Staff member
Do you actually harvest the tobacco, or just grow the plants?  I once had 25 tobacco plants growing in the backyard, not really for harvest, more for the uniqueness of it.  They look beautiful.  I'm considering growing some this season, and maybe even curing some of the leaves.  I'm sure I could make a cigarette or two. :D
 

ashauler

None for me, thanks.
Gern Blansten said:
Jamie, I'm curious what kind of yield you'll get from your crop and does tobacco take more/less water then most plants? 
For most of the cigar varieties I hope to get between 15-20 leaves.  I may try to allow what's called a sucker crop to develop this year if it looks like the temps will allow another 60 days of growth after last priming.  I've read of success doing this elsewhere.
 
Tobacco is a very hardy plant that adapts well to many different soils/ temp's/ h20 levels.  For example it is typical for tobacco growers in Turkey to simply not irrigate or fertilize their crops at all.  Contrast that with Ecuador's constant mist and humidity.  The exact strain of tobacco grown in each place will obviously be different, but it is all N.Tobaccum. 
 

Do you actually harvest the tobacco, or just grow the plants? snip....
I absolutely harvest / cure / and smoke the tobacco that I grow.  Some in a pipe, and some in rather interestingly rolled cigars. I'll be making myself a mold this year and hope to vastly improve my rolling skills.
 
2011 / 12 were disastrous years for me, and I lost the vast majority of leaf I grew.  Not because the plants didn't survive the massive draught and heatwave we had, but the leaves produced were unusable for cigars due to scalding.  I obtained some leaf from other growers to continue practicing the curing / fermenting processes to prepare for this year.
 

ashauler

None for me, thanks.
I've had some difficulty germinating a few of the strains, I suspect that the seeds were just old and I somehow selected just the right group for my viability tests.  Tricky bastards.
Anyway, I've gotten some fresher replacement seeds for most of them....no luck with the PA broadleaf so I'll replace it with Walker broadleaf this year.  Shouldn't be much of an issue.
 
Here's my super technical germination chamber, a technical description of which can be found in my album:
http://www.cigarpass.com/forums/uploads/gallery/album_1729/gallery_3946_1729_18154.jpg
 
From left:
PA broadleaf....no joy 16 days from start...don't have replacement seeds so I'm gonna let these stew until mold takes over or I get pissed enough to throw them out
Florida Sumatra.....4-5 sprouts
Frog Eye Orinoco....4-5- sprouts
Havana 142.....no joy 16 days from start.  The vuelta abajo was intended to replace this anyway, but I'll let these keep the PA company.
http://www.cigarpass.com/forums/uploads/gallery/album_1729/gallery_3946_1729_70113.jpg
 
A few shots of Vuelta Abajo.  I've transferred the sprouts to larger pots, where they'll live until planted.  They'll stay in this arrangement for another few weeks, then I'll move them to the garage and begin the hardening off process prior to planting.
http://www.cigarpass.com/forums/uploads/gallery/album_1729/gallery_3946_1729_39845.jpg
 
http://www.cigarpass.com/forums/uploads/gallery/album_1729/gallery_3946_1729_177853.jpg
 

ashauler

None for me, thanks.
bondcadman said:
Oh My God. This will save my money and i will get fresh cigar from my own. It is the best information i get today.
Ha, be prepared to replace what you save in cash with effort, stress, and disappointment......and maybe, just maybe, a huge and satisfying reward, or not.  Good luck.
 
MrMaduro said:
Here is some info for those who want to grow their own tobacco.

1. Start your seeds indoors or in a green house 6-8 weeks before the last frost in your region. I use float trays, which are compartmentalized styrofoam trays that float in a bed of water. You can also use the seed starter trays available from most home and garden centers. I use a mixture of quality top soil and potting soil (50/50 mix), fill your trays and lightly pack the soil, and dampen with water. Then sow 2-4 seeds into each compartment. This can be hard to do, a little trick I use to make this easier is I take a business card or some type of rigid paper and crease it down the middle. Place some seeds on the paper, using a knife scrape the seeds onto the trays.

Leave the seeds on top of the soil. DO NOT cover with soil, the seeds need light to germinate.

2. After the seeds begin to grow once a week when you water them (keep the soil moist as the plants will dry out very quickly and die) using Miracle Grow or some type of plant fertilizer. If you can find it Miracle Grow for tomato plants is the best. Tobacco and tomato are from the same family Night Shade.Once they are about an inch tall, using tweezers remove the extra seedlings in each compartment, leaving only one plant per compartment. When the plants reach 6-8 inches tall, and if the danger of frost is over they are ready to transplant outside. They can handle quite a bit of sun light. I plant mine where they recieve direct sun light all day long with no issues of being sun burned. This is a pic of one of my float trays from last years crop. This tray has 55 individual compartments. the seedlings are 3-4 inches tall.


3. When transplanting outside Make sure to water them well as you plant them outside. If you choose to grow them in pots use large planters, or 5 gallon buckets work well also. You need a pot at least 14 inches in diameter or larger, to keep the plants from falling over when they get bigger. Some of the plants can reach 6 feet or taller. As they grow I feed them once a week with some type of plant fertilizer. One thing to consider if you plant these in your garden do not put them close to your tomatos. the nicotine from the plants will kill your tomato plants!!!! This pic is a short section of 2 rows about 2 weeks after transplanting, each row I had last year 80 plants.


4. The bugs shouldn't become a problem until after they start to bloom. Now is when you have to make a choice. First option, if you leave the blooms on the plant you will have taller plants with more leaves, 30 or more but smaller leaves. Second option, break off the blooms, (this is called topping) you will have shorter plants with fewer leaves 20-26 but the leaves will be quite a bit bigger. I had some leaves last year close to 3 feet long. These pics are of the blooms and one of the leaves at 6 weeks or so.





4. After the plants bloom they will become sticky and really start to smell good. This is when the insects will come calling. I use a mixture of finely ground tobacco 1 tablespoon, 1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon dish washing detergent in 1 gallon of water. Spray the plants once a week, or after each rain. This will keep the bugs away. DO NOT use any type of systemic pesticide as it will be absorbed into the tobacco (https://www.swisscubancigars.com/cohiba-siglo-vi.html), then you if you smoke or chew it later!!!!!

5. Next thing is small leaves (suckers) will start to grow at the base of each leaf where it joins the stalk. These must be removed. We call this suckering the plant. If these are allowed to grow they will rob the main leaves of their nutrients, and won't grow as large. Here is a pic of a sucker.



6. Now 2-4 weeks after the plants have bloomed you can start harvesting. This can be done by priming the plant a few leaves at a time as they ripen, or you can cut the whole plant. If you prime you can thread a string through the base of the leaf, or tie each leaf to hang and cure. If you cut the whole plant you can hang it to cure then strip the leaves later, My prefered method. Here is a pic of a wooden tobacco stick with 5 tobacco stalks speared, it weighs close to 80 pounds.



7. Hang your tobacco in a well ventillated barn, shed, or garage to cure. This will take 6 weeks or more depending on the temperature, humidity, and air movement. It's considered cured when it has a nice brown color. Be careful when handling cured tobacco as it will be very dry and brittle. You can bring it into case (make it pliable and easy to handle) by misting it with water or waiting for a couple of rainy days. It will absorb the moisture and be safe to handle. This is a pic of some hanging in the barn.



8. Now it's ready to ferment, I'll cover this later, I'm still learning. I don't want to post any misdirections.

Good luck, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Brian,

Rod, would you pin this so that everyone can have easy access to this information?
 
Great post. I am glad that you include pictures. You make tobacco planting an easy job. Does tobacco prefer certain kind of soil, season or climate? 
 
Kingantz said:
I haven't even started mine yet. Man I'm gettin' lazy in my old age. Here's what I had left from my crop last year. It's been fermenting in a tupperware container I've had sitting on top of my water heater (the hot water pipe) to keep it at a warm temperature. I've taken it out about every other week and flip the tobacco over. I sprayed it with some water not long ago as it was getting a little dried out. I have to tell ya, this stuff smells like heaven!! I really have no idea how long I need to leave it in there. I'm about ready to take it out and try my hand at rolling.












Just by looking at it i cam smell the strong aroma of tobacco wafting into the air! 
 

ashauler

None for me, thanks.
Here are some photo's from last night.
Vuelta Abajo and Frog Eye Orinoco:


The Enemy:

He got what he deserved:


So did this little bastard:

 




 It's been raining just often enough around here to keep me out of the garden on a regular basis. The horn-worms got out of control. I picked and squished and sprayed my ass off, so hopefully that should fix the little fuckers. I'm about 10 days late beginning the harvest of the Vuelta Abajo and Frog Eye. As you will notice in the photo's the leaves appear somewhat bumpy and are beginning to show yellow. This would be a very good thing if this was burley, or flue cured, or just about anything other than cigar tobacco. I don't think I'm late enough to seriously impact the curing process, or the smoke quality.....but we'll see.

Vuelta Abajo primed. 47 leaves taken:




Frog Eye primed. 5 leaves taken:


Two very different tobaccos. Notice the difference in size and shape of the leaves. The Vuelta Abajo will be used as a cigar filler and binder......the Frog Eye will be used for pipe tobacco primarily, but I'm sure I'll throw a strip or two in a cigar just to check it out. Lots of work to do before then though.

I began the pile sweat of these tobaccos last night. I'll unwrap, restack, and rotate the leaves daily until they completely yellow. Then they will be hung to dry completely through the mid-rib.....then the fun of fermentation begins.

 
 

ashauler

None for me, thanks.
These plants are about 3 weeks behind the Vuelta Abajo. I had some issues with germination of my original seed stock for these varieties and had to refresh and begin germination all over again. I selected the strongest seedlings to plant to the field so my total planting was seriously reduced, but, I'll be able to give more serious attention to these plants with the hopes of harvesting seed for next year. I'll get to show you all the bagging process to prevent cross pollination of the plants.

CT Broadleaf. I intend to use these for wrappers, fermented to a dark / dark brown :


Rustica. This is an ancient tobacco with extremely high nicotine content. Think peace pipe tobacco. Notice the very different leaf structure and growth habit of this species.:


Walker Broadleaf. Another cigar filler, grown in place of PA Broadleaf that failed miserably in germination.:


Bafra. An oriental or "spice" tobacco used primarily in pipe blends and cigarettes. A very pretty plant with closely spaced, heart shaped, small leaves. I'll give this a few more days, then begin priming it. :


Hopefully the rain will stay away for a few more days and I can cultivate. I need to till in the weeds that have sprung up over the last couple of weeks....constant battle as I don't use any herbicides. I've harvested all the potatos and peas, so I also need to till that area up, amend with some compost and prepare for the late summer potato planting. I need to spray the silk on the corn plants to prevent ear worms.....weed some more....spray the Okra....and on ....and on......and on. Beats the shit out of watching TV!!

 

 
 
Have you considered using DE, diatomaceous earth as an organic pest control on your tobacco leaves? It is supposed to be great for home garden use, keeps pests at bay, can be completely washed off and is not supposed to effect the plants.
 
Kick ass. I've been looking for this to help in my first grow.

Thank you SO much!!!
Have you considered using DE, diatomaceous earth as an organic pest control on your tobacco leaves? It is supposed to be great for home garden use, keeps pests at bay, can be completely washed off and is not supposed to effect the plants.
We use this to kill ant colonies. Should work well for this too!!
 
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