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Growing tobacco for personal use

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Have any of you grown tobacco for personal use? I've smoked for years and wondered about growing my own tobacco. I like smoking. Sometimes a cigar can be as great as anything I might eat or drink.

Any suggestions of how to grow it, where to buy seeds, if they will even grow in W Oregon, much appreciated.
post #2 of 9
There was a guy, I believe in Virginia, who grew is own tobacco for cigars. It really is a process that is quite difficult if you dont know what you are doing. Most of the Tobacco growing for cigars is done in the Carribean and tropical parts of Africa. That being said most of the cigarette tobacco in the states is done in Virginia and the Carolinas. Most farms are pretty protective of their seeds. ALOT of money goes into different strains and different plants. For example just in one cigar you may have 4 different leaves from four different plants from four different countries.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
monetrey, thanks, I did some research on it and it just doesn't seem practical at all for a home grower unless it's a real passion and they are willing to invest a lot of time, and probably money. I didn't realize how much of a challenge it is.
post #4 of 9
You're actually asking two different questions: How to grow tobacco, and how to cure and prep it.

Tobacco seed, in fact, is readily available. First decision is what kind do you want to grow? For instance, I grow ceremonial tobacco (Nicotiana rustica) quite often. It's almost maintainence free. It's also low growing and has small leaves, with yellow to yellow-green flowers (which is different than the white-to-pale-lavender and pink blossoms found on domestic tobacco).

On the other hand, Burley (Nicotaina tabacum), which is the most common smoking tobacco, requires a little more attention to detail. But it's still, at base, a weed, and will grow like one. Burley is a big plant, growing about 4 feet tall, with large, broad leaves. Connecticut Broadleaf (Nicotiana tabacum) has even bigger leaves.

Tobacco worms and hornworms can be a problem for tobacco growers. But both can be easily controlled in the home garden both by hand picking, and by the introduction of predatory wasps.

To maximize productivity you need to learn certain techniques, such as topping. I don't top my tobacco plants because I want them to produce seed. But the leaf size siffers thereby.

Then, once the plants are ready to harvest they have to be hung in a dry, but airy, location. You can tell tobacco barns from others because of the spaces between the wood planks to assure good air flow. Then, once cured, the leaves have to be stripped. To do that they have to be "in case," which depends on adding back enough humidity so the dry leaves become pliable. At that point, using a special knife made for the purpose, you cut away the center stems.

All that is for a simple air cure. But there are other approaches used to produce the leaf color desired. Cigar wrappers come in three shades; green, brown, and madura---which is almost black. And, in some places, notably Connecticut, they use a sugar cure, based on molassas, which is a whole nuther thing, used primarily to produce pipe tobacco.

Keep in mind, too, that we're only talking about American tobacco so far. There are others, and they often are used as part of blends.

Once you've grown and cured the bacca you then have to learn how to roll cigars. It's not a simple matter of stacking a few leaves and rolling them into a tube shape. Wrappers use different leaves than fillers, for instance, and the filler can be long-leaf (that's what's used in the best cigars) or various combinations of long-leaf and chopped. Rolling cigars is an art form that takes people years to learn.

There are people who grow tobacco in British Columbia, so I would guess it will grow by you.

Whew! Ain't ya glad you asked. :D
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
At first I thought hey, you just grow the plant, dry the leaves, make them into some smokable shape and that's it :lol:
post #6 of 9
Actually, you can do that---if you enjoy a harsh, acrid smoke. Native Americans smoked it that way for eons, sometimes straight, sometimes with other additives.

But for them, smoking was a spiritual thing, not recreation.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 9
As KYH mentioned, the premium cigar-wrapper leaves have been grown in the Connecticut River valley for many years. I doubt if the climate there is more harsh than that in Oregon, so I suppose you could do-it-yourself there.

I have no idea if it's still much of an industry in CT.

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #8 of 9
I have a feeling it would be very difficult but perhaps if you had a greenhouse it would be worth it to try it out!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help, all. I decided it's not worth it for me. If it were just a matter of growing the plants and drying the leaves and ending up with good stuff, I would give it a try. I'm not willing to take on the rest of it at this point. I'm glad I got this information--thanks :^)
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