Tobacco is a large perennial herbaceous blooming plant that belongs to the solanaceae or nightshade family. It is the world’s most commonly grown non-food plant and is selected by growers from more than 120 countries due to its performance under broadly different climatic and soil conditions to fulfill the requirements of many various markets.
The tobacco plant varies from one to three metres in height and produces 10 to 20 leaves from its main stalk. About 90 percent of tobacco grows between 40º north and 40º south, although it can be grown up to 60º north.
A native crop of the Americas, tobacco is grown in order to get its leaves. But, for commercial cultivation the flowers are take off in order to encourage the leaves to grow further down the stem. Variations in soil and climate create leaves that have particular features and need various methods of fertilization, insect and disease control, growing and curing. All tobacco types belong to the Nicotiana genus, even though the main source of industrial tobacco is Nicotiana Tabacum. Nicotiana Rustica is as well cultivated, albeit to a far lesser extent, and used in Oriental tobaccos.
Farmers have created a broad variety of morphologically various types, from the small-leaved aromatic tobaccos to the large, broad-leaved cigar tobaccos. Yet, each kind of tobacco is usually identified by the curing technique applied to it.
Curing is the last stage in the manufacturing of tobacco. After that, the leaves are marketed to be turned into the ultimate tobacco product, e.g. cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and snuff.
With the aid of curing, the moisture content in the tobacco leaf is lowered from 80 percent to about 20 percent, therefore guaranteeing the tobacco’s preservability. Further, the various techniques of curing also enrich the leaf’s natural aroma. As various tobacco products need leaves with various characteristics, the unique flavour of each type of tobacco is what establishes its suitability for use in various tobacco products.
In curing barns leaves will be dried out some time. After the curing process is finished and the leaf has dehydrated completely, fresh air is released into the curing barn, a bit moistening the leaves as to enable them to be sent for sale without crumbling.