Growing the Tobacco
EVERY LEAF IN A HABANO IS “TABACO NEGRO CUBANO” – CUBAN BLACK TOBACCO – DIRECTLY DESCENDED FROM THE PLANTS THAT COLUMBUS FIRST DISCOVERED HERE MORE THAN FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO.
Two distinct forms of cultivation produce the different types of leaf required. Wrapper leaves are grown in the shade. The fields are covered by muslin cloth which filters the sunlight and traps the heat so the leaves grow larger and finer. Only the largest and finest leaves are selected to make wrappers for Habanos. No surprise that the wrapper is the most expensive leaf to produce.
Filler and binder leaves are grown in the open, enjoying the full benefit of the Cuban sun. In each case the leaves have different characteristics at different levels of the plant, and each leaf is classified accordingly. Each leaf has its own destiny. The full force of Cuban sunlight develops the glorious variety of flavours that are blended to form the rich and complex taste of a Habano.
The farmer may have charge of half a million plants or more, and each must be visited more than 150 times in the growing season. Work starts in the burning heat of June and July, and continues without respite for nine months. Around 40 days after planting out, the harvest can begin. Each leaf must be picked by hand. Only two or three leaves can be taken at a time, with days to wait between each picking. The harvesting of a single plant takes close to 30 days to complete. The harvested leaves are taken to the farmer’s barn for air curing. The leaves will also undergo fermentations, sortings, classifications, ageing – many months, and in some cases years will pass before the leaf is ready to make a Habano.