How to Cure Tobacco
How to Cure Tobacco. Tobacco is from the Nicotiania genus and is native to the American continent. The dried leaves were smoked by Native Americans before the arrival of the Europeans. Tobacco quickly became popular with Europeans and was one of the crops that drove the colonization of North America. Tobacco may be smoked, chewed, dipped or snuffed, but all of these methods require the leaves to be cured.
Age the tobacco leaves by allowing them to dry. This process allows the carotenoids in the leaf to oxidize and degrade, producing a smoother more aromatic flavor. There are primarily four methods to accomplish the aging of tobacco: air-curing, fire-curing, flue-curing and sun-curing.
Air-cure tobacco by hanging the leaves in a ventilated barn until they have no sugar remaining. This usually occurs by the time they have turned a light to medium brown.
Fire-cure tobacco by setting it out on racks over a wood-fueled fire. This method is used mostly for pipe blend tobacco because the type of wood used for the fire influences the flavor.
Flue-cure tobacco by hanging it in a closed barn. Pipes from radiators or some other source supply controlled heat to the leaves until the starch is converted to sugar and the leaves turn yellow-orange.
Sun-cure tobacco by setting it on racks in the sun for between 12 and 30 days. This method is similar to flue-curing and will produce a sweeter tobacco.
Cut The Flower Off My Tobacco Plant, Will It Die?
As a tobacco plant reaches maturity, it produces a long spike of flower buds at the top of the plant. In ornamental varieties, these flowers are desirable and probably the reason the plant was selected in the first place. Once this growing point is broken off, the energy is redirected to other growing areas -- specifically the axils of the leaves. Tucked away in this bend between the leaf and the main stem is a tiny area capable of vegetative growth called a sucker. Left to grow, these suckers sap strength from the main stem of the plant, producing a bushier plant with smaller, thinner leaves. In about 10 days, the germination tray should be covered with tiny green rosettes. Young tobacco requires high fertility, so feed the seedlings weekly with a half-strength solution of water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer or any fertilizer manufactured specifically for tomatoes, potatoes or peppers. Bring them back inside on nights with a threat for frost or freeze. New cultivars produce clusters of tubular flowers in red, white, light green and varying shades of pink that open during the day. Maximum growth height is about 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide.
- University of Florida: IFAS Extension: Growing Tobacco in the Home Garden
- Cornell University: Home Gardening: Nicotiana
- Fine Gardening: Genus Nicotiana (Tobacco Plant)
- University of Georgia: College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences: Flowering Annuals for Georgia Gardens
- The Plant Book; Geoff Bryant