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cuban tobacco cigars
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cuban tobacco cigars
cuban tobacco cigars
cuban tobacco cigars
cuban tobacco cigars
cuban tobacco cigars
cuban tobacco cigars
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OUR FARM

 
     
  Behind every cigar is a long history that begins by selecting a seed that is "true to type." The tobacco plant is a product of both its genetic constitution and the environment in which it grows. The genetic aspect has an established limit that fixes the seed's potential for maximum production under a given environment.  
     
  It is a fallacy to say that what matters in creating the Cuban flavor and bouquet, is that the tobacco be grown in Cuban soil. By skillful agronomical "engineering," Cuban seeds with the proper genetic blueprint can duplicate the performance of the same seed grown on the island. Not every seed strain is suited to every growing area ... not even in Cuba, where the best wrapper tobacco is grown in the Vuelta Abajo, while filler and binder leaf is found growing in other provinces. What is crucial is the matching of seed strains to the soil (and, of course, to the climate). This is as important as the seed itself, in order to optimize flavor, aroma, burning properties, crop productivity, good leaf size and shape, pest- and disease-resistance, and more. Many think the abundance of nutrients in the soil determines plant success. This is only partially true ...what matters is a specific strain's ability to utilize those nutrients. Different strains require different nutrients, and in different proportions. Only by laboratory comparison of the nutrients "taken up" by the plant into the leaves, expressed as a percentage of the nutrients available in the soil, can one determine whether a particular strain is ideally matched to the soil.  
     
 
 

 


Potent red soil, our
tobacco
origin in Cuba’s legendary
Vuelta Abajo, combines with daylight-
limiting mountains and climate, perfect
for growing the world’s finest
 tobacco

 

 


We genetically engineered this rare Cola
de Gallo (rooster tail)
tobacco from pre-Castro Cuban seeds, to have an oily sheen, uniform
vein spacing, and even a rectangular
shape, which maximizes usable tobacco
for large-cigar wrappers

 
  When asked to direct all operations at company in 2002, the first thing I did was test the soil. Though Costa Rica is volcanic, this soil was not of the typical black basaltic makeup. It has the same rust-red color you find in Cuba's prime growing regions, like the Vuelta Abajo. It is extraordinarily rich in the nutrients and minerals tobacco needs, and allows us to grow two crops a year with the proper rotation of soil. Tobacco does not like to have wet feet, and the soil is loose enough for proper drainage.  
     
  The mountains on both sides of the farm provide just the right amount of daylight, from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Days in the 80s and nights in the 60s favor tobacco cultivation, and the rain cycles are ideal.  
     
  Decades of work in tobacco cultivation told me to follow the tobacco-farming methods of the indigenous Central American people. These methods span thousands of years, working in harmony with Nature, not trying to dominate it. The reason? To bring you cigars with the flavor and aroma of only pure tobacco, untainted by the taste of chemicals. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides persist in the soil and ground water for decades, another reason we avoid them as much as possible. We do add minerals and natural organic fertilizers. We tailor nutrients and minerals to each specific type of tobacco we grow. This not only satisfies their different needs for stalk growth and leaf size, but also for less obvious reasons, like leaf elasticity and burning properties.  
     
  The work load for semi-organic natural farming is about twice that for regular methods, beginning before the seeds go into the soil medium (greenhouse trays). During the season prior to transplanting the tobacco, we plant native grasses, which enrich the soil with nitrogen-bearing organic matter. Nitrogen is critical in the tobacco's early growing stage, creating rapid growth and a strong stalk structure.  
     
  A major natural fertilization factor uses the naturally-occurring earthworm population to convert the soil into nutrient-laden humus. We work with a topsoil depth of about 12", and the earthworms leave their castings behind as they eat their way through the topsoil.  
     
  We use virtually no farm equipment, and the hand implements and containers we use must be contaminant-free. 35 days after planting the seeds in the germination hothouse, we transplant the seedlings into the soil. A healthy plant is a requirement for a good cigar.  
     
  Once the soil has been readied, the seeds have germinated, and the tobacco plants are climbing toward the sun, it's time for pest control. The first line of defense is proper sanitary methods, complemented with the appropriate organic pesticides for effective insect and disease control.  
     
  An efficient integrated system of control of insect plagues implies minimizing negative impact to the environment, and guaranteeing the smoker a quality product with a minimum of agro-toxins. It is important to not just apply one or another measure, but to stimulate the synergistic effects on one hand, and only stimulating the antagonistic ones when necessary. The elements of our integrated program to control the main plagues include:
  • The use of resistant varieties
  • Use of trap plants
  • Rotation of cultivations
  • General measures to increase biodiversity
  • Application of traps
  • Sowing of vegetable species repellent to insects
  • Application of chemical products of natural origin
  • Use of biological control
  • Use of the masculine sterility; and Application of chemical products not harmful to the environment.
 
     
  A specialist walks the rows of tobacco regularly, watchful for outbreaks of pests or disease. The traditional method of picking leaf-eating caterpillars by hand still occupies much of the field workers' efforts. A new-technology defense is also quite effective ... the introduction of parasitic organic pesticides. Sprayed on the leaves, they attack the digestive systems of larvae. We also use biological agents to attack fungus that infests tobacco. We extract the juice from plants that are showing susceptibility to tobacco mosaic virus, and inoculate plants prior to individual selection. After the incubation period, we select only the plants showing resistance and good agronomic characteristics. (Tobacco juice is also a pesticide, as many environmentally-aware home gardeners know.)  
     
Another tactic is to introduce a beneficial predatory insect that injects its eggs into the bodies of the larval stage of the hawk moth, one of tobacco's worst enemies.. A virus bacillus dust so we apply to the plants also infects the moth's larvae. Whenever possible, we use natural plant-derived, pyrethrin-based spray for pest control. Rather than "shooting from the hip;" upon discovering the onset of an infestation, we analyze the pest and apply a natural pesticide tailored specifically to combat that insect.
     
  After being harvested, the curing and fermentation runs much the same course as regular tobacco. Post-harvest infestations of tobacco beetles are the main problem. If testing dictates beetle eradication is necessary, we move the leaf into the hothouse environment. This toasts errant beetles in any of the four stages from egg to adult. Through to the finished cigars, all other steps are ordinary. To eradicate them, we use a pesticide that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for foodstuffs in warehouses and restaurants. It is gaseous, so it evaporates upon completion, rather than leaving a residue like sprayed or dusted pesticides. We then age three months at the factory.  
     
 
 
 
 
  Director John Vogel (at right), surveys his latest crop of  tobacco ... Habano Corojo from 1951  
     
  In summary, we take the pains we do to grow and process our tobacco as chemical-free as possible. We know we'll be smoking it, too!  
     
     
   
     
     
     
 
       
       

 



© Copyright Puroserve, S.A., 2005-2009