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NFES MIMEO REPORT 63-3
NORTH FLORIDA EXPERIMENT STATION
September 20, 1962
POSSIBILITIES FOR PRODUCING CUBAN-TYPE CIGAR-FILLER TOBACCO IN FLORIDA
by R. R. Kincaid1, C. E. Dean2, Fred Clark3, and S. L. Brothers4
Possibilities for producing Cuban-type cigar-filler tobacco in Florida have aroused
considerable interest since the recent embargo on imports of this type of tobacco from
Cuba. Filler (U. S. Type 45) was previously grown in the vicinity of Quincy until about
Some exploratory tests were conducted by Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
during 1962, which indicated that filler can be grown in Florida from seed of a Cuban
filler variety. The yield potential of this variety would probably range from 800 to
1,200 pounds per acre. Information regarding quality is incomplete at this time.
For those interested in the growing of filler in Florida, this tentative information
statement has been prepared, based on the production of filler-type tobacco in Florida
Estimated Cost of Production Per Acre
Soil Fumigation (in drill)
Insecticides, fungicides, etc.
Labor, including hand suckering
Harvesting, curing, stripping, and tying
Sweating, baling, and storage
Total of items listed
Several cost items may vary according to the size of the production unit. Not
included are the cost of curing facilities, for example, a shade tobacco barn, a flue-cured
tobacco barn, or a fairly tight shed equipped for ventilation and heating. Roughly 10,000
.cubic feet of curing space is needed for each acre of primed tobacco, or 20,000 cubic
feet for each acre cured on the stalk.
Variety and Source of Seed
Seed of a suggested variety may be obtained from Florida Foundation Seed Producers,
Inc., Box 2605, University Station, Gainesville, Florida. Other varieties are being tested.
Plant Pathologist, North Florida Experiment Station, Quincy, Florida
2Assistant Agronomist, North Florida Experiment Station, Quincy, Florida
3Associate Agronomist, Agricultural Experiment Station, Gainesville, Florida
Extension Specialist (Tobacco), Agricultural Extension Service, Gainesville, Florida
Cigar-filler tobacco seedlings may be produced in beds similar to flue-cured tobacco
beds, or by other locally adapted procedures for producing seedlings of tobacco, tomato,
etc. The fertilizer must contain no muriate of potash.
A medium-textured, well drained soil having a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 will be suitable for
the production of this crop.
Drill-row application of one of the fumigants recommended for other types of tobacco
should be used, namely, EDB, D-D, or Telone. Follow recommended rates.
A fertilizer analyzing approximately 5-4-6 should be used at the rate of 2,000 to
2,500 pounds per acre. All potash should be from sulfate of potash sources.
The crop is transplanted in spring at about the average date of the last frost, or
in fall 70 days before the first frost for a stalk-cut crop, or 90 days for a primed crop.
Plants should be spaced to give about 14,000 plants per acre, for example, 10 inches
apart in 42-inch rows. If this spacing does not produce leaf of sufficient body, wider
spacing may be required.
Cultivation should be performed when needed to keep the soil serated and weeds under
Irrigation may be required during periods of drouth. Excessive amounts of water
should be avoided.
Topping and Suckering
The plants should be topped as soon as the bud appears in the top. Only the bud
should be removed, leaving as many leaves as possible to develop. Both before and after
topping, it is necessary to remove suckers periodically, usually once a week. Suckers
should not be allowed to get over 3 inches in length before removal. Careful attention
should be given to topping and suckering, because these factors affect both yield and
quality of the crop.
Harvesting and Curing
Plants of the Cuban filler variety normally have 12 to 14 leaves after topping.
Harvesting may begin about 8 to 9 weeks after transplanting. Several practices may
be used: (1) Shree or four leaves per plant may be harvested at each proming at weekly
intervals, and strung with a needle, about 40 to a 52-inch stick, as with cigar-wrapper
tobacco; or looped in bunches of three or four leaves, 100 to 120 leaves to a stick, as
with flue-cured tobacco. (2) Stalks may be cut about 9 weeks after transplanting, and
the whole stalks speared, or the stalk cut into sections having two to four leaves and
the sections hung over the stick. (3) Another method is to prime the lower three or four
leaves and then cure the remainder of the crop on the stalk.
The crop is slowly air-cured, with firing to 950-100 F., as necessary to prevent the
development of mold or rot. About 30 days are generally required to cure each harvest.
Stripping and Tying
After curing, when leaves have just enough moisture for handling without breakage,
)rimed leaves are tied with the cotton twine on which they were cured; leaves cured on the
stalk are removed and tied in hands with twine or raffia; hands are then packed in boxes
for delivery to the packing house. Strung leaves may be kept separate by primings.
Packing (Sweating and Storage)
A tightly constructed building, preferably ofbrick or concrete, is needed, with
approximately 100 square feet of floor space for each acre.
A tightly sealed room is needed for fumigation of boxed or baled filler.
Leaves in hands are sweated in bulks, regularly arranged piles, of 5 tons or more;
smaller bulks may not attain the desired temperature of 1400 F., or higher. Bulks are
taken apart and rebuilt several times, until the required elements of quality are achieved.
The quality desired in filler is heavy bodied leaves of dark brown color, elastic,
not brittle, free burning, and having good aroma.
After seating, the leaves are dried to a low moisture content, and then boxed or
baled for storage in a fairly cool, dry room until used. Fumigation for insect control is
required, at least before shipping.
Cigar-filler tobacco (U. S. Type 45) is not under a marketing quota agreement.
Ohio and Pennsylvania5 filler tobacco prices range from 24 to 31 cents per pound;
Puerto Rican filler, 30 to 34 cents; and Cuban (Havana) filler, 60 cents to $1.00 or more.
Until recently some 25 million pounds of Cuban filler was imported annually. Several
countries in Central and South America are producing, and others plan to produce, substan-
tial quantities of filler tobacco which has already found good acceptance in the cigar
There is at present no information on trade acceptance or possible price range of
Florida-produced filler tobacco. Profitable production may depend largely on its
similarity to filler previously imported from Cuba.
The prospective grower of filler tobacco should consider the following, before
undertaking to grow this crop.
1. Become familiar with available information as to the growing and curing of the
crop on the farm.
5United States Department of Agriculture, Tobacco Statistics, 1961.
2. Assure the availability of facilities needed to sweat and store the crop, even
hough located at some distance from the farm.
3. Arrange with a packer, dealer, or cigar manufacturer to dispose of the crop on
some basis satisfactory to the grower.
The authors are indebted to Messrs. Thomas Smith, Tom Maxwell, John Duys, Francisco
Ulonzo, Jacinto Argudin, Jr., Luis Tovano, John Russell, and Bernard Clark for their