Friday, November 23, 2012

The Small Time Tobacco Harvest

I managed to get a few bundles of tobacco leaves harvested and hung for curing this year. As I mentioned before the bugs pretty much ate the crap outta my tobacco plants this year. Between the hornworms and some type of cucumber beetle and the squash bugs that moved into them after they had done their number on the zucchini I was surprised there was anything left.

Most of the really big and good looking leaves were eaten early on. It wasn't until the nights got a bit cooler that the plants seemed to be able to take off and grow some without constant munching.

For curing I decided to try some sun curing like they use in the Middle East and then finish the job with hang curing in a well ventilated barn. I know years ago they used special curing sheds for this step but I am not going to build one so I hung the leaves in the part of the barn where I store the lawn mowers and such for Winter.

At this point it is all guess work because I am not going to worry about humidity and heat in the barn. If this method of curing doesn't produce a useable crop harvest then I may look at other methods but I am not going to sink any resources into this experiment right now. It simply isn't worth it. Besides a usable crop would really go to waste since it would illegal to even give it away at this point or so I have been told. Perhaps gifting it is legal I really don't know.

After the party the bugs had with these plants I can't imagine how much work growing tobacco for consumption would be without modern day pesticides. The hornworm patrol took at least 30 minutes each day and I missed so many of them as well. However as a companion crop these plants had a use that I didn't expect. They kept the hornworms almost completely away from the tomato crop.

I only planted 16 tobacco plants and as I mentioned I really only got to harvest about the top 50% of the leaves because the bottom ones were damaged so bad. If I had been placing more importance on these plants and was in a grid down situation I would have had more time to protect them which may have made a big difference but that is speculation at this point.

I will continue the curing experiment. I guess I need to go shop for a pipe now just to see if this actually produces anything useable. Let's just hope I don't poison myself.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. i grew a few tobacco plants this year too-just a few..i wanted to experience the growing of them and the seed collecting first. our weather was okay and i did not have too much trouble with the bugs..the blossoms were great and i was able to collect lots and lots of seed from two varieties...i hope to replant next year-and then go on to the next step of curing some. like you i need a space for doing it and have decided to use some overhead space in my potting shed -over the stored mowers and tools. i hope that your curing experiment is successful and look forward to the news.

    1. Anon - I collected some seeds I also have a ton left to plant with next year. The thing I am having the hardest part with right now is figuring out how I am going to ferment it in Winter.

      I am still working on that plan. I am contemplating some way of using my wood furnace at this point but that air may dry the whole process out over much. The whole experiment maybe a waste with such a small harvest amount.

      We will see and I will keep everyone updated.

  2. Ironic on the bugs because concentrated nicotine is used as an insecticide.

    I guess the non-organic approach of spraying the $@$#@ out of the plants is called for.

    1. Odysseus - Ya that is rather funny. I wonder if the nicotine based insecticides effect hornworms and the other bugs I saw all over the tobacco plants?

      Overall if I had more time I could have kept the plants better but I just didn't. Hopefully that will not be an issue next Summer.

  3. hi.hope this goes through. cannot understand computery things. get the book 'rascal' by sterling north. he describes casing weather which tobacco growers wait for. it is misty weather in february. you get up in the middle of the night . all the tobacco is dry but the mist softens it enough to work with without crumbling. i've never heard of fermenting it. also the cherokee tribe in north carolina sells tobacco and may have a booklet on tobacco growing and curing.
    the purpose of children where i come from in west virginia is to take a coffee can apiece out to the tobacco patch and pick hornworms. no need for pesticides!
    deb harvey

    1. Anon - From what I have read the fermenting process is needed to remove the ammonia from the leaves. It is usually done by piling the leaves all on top of each other and allowing them to compost themselves. After a certain temperature is reached the pile is then turned and done again and so on until the temp stays below 110.

      All well and good if you have enough leaves to produce a pile. I don't.

      I am not sure how I am going to get that step done yet during the Winter. During Springtime I could get close I think with a solar set up.

      Thanks for the other tips from your experience that was really helpful as well. I am going to try the mist technique.

  4. That is awesome! Maybe something I need to try when we get our property..along with my chicken coop of course.


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