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Whole Leaf Tobacco

Harvesting Rustica

DGBAMA

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#1
I am growing Ancient Rustica this year (thanks Greg for the seed). It is now flowering, and does not appear that the normal indicators of leaf maturity for tabaccum types will apply. So when do you guys harvest? Just leave it alone until the seeds mature and hang the whole plant? 14346299109390.jpg
 

grgfinney

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#3
I topped some of mine last year after they bloomed,suckered and primed them like the rest,I waited 4 weeks as after topping they never did turn yellow even when hanging went straight to dark brown, of yeah almost forgot when they bloom they smell like cat pee
 

DGBAMA

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#5
Thanks guys. Was topping and suckering beneficial? They are flowering at only 8-12 leaves each for me, so wondering if better to just let em grow, sucker's and all then stalk cure when they quit flowering.
 

romanko

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#6
I had a few Aztec Rustica volunteers come up this year, didn't top them as I was saving seed. Primed the leaves and they colour cured in my greenhouse in no time, have yet to taste them.

Not sure if I'll grow this strain again, not much yield for the space they take up, and harvesting seeds was a pain, the pods tend to be small and crazy sticky.
 

squeezyjohn

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#7
As this thread has been raised from the dead I'd like to chip in with a few observations about rustica as I've grown it 4 years now.

Leaf maturity is a far more grey area than with N.Tabacum varieties with far fewer visual indicators. However there is a state of maturity of leaf that means that it will colour cure much easier than if picked early. Rustica will grow up fast and begin to flower within about 6 weeks of planting out - and if you want large mature leaf it's a good idea to top and then remove suckers on a regular basis. The plant will fight you in this with almost un-natural speed of sucker growth - it really wants to be a bush! The leaf will rarely be mature enough to cure well if you leave it only 3 weeks after topping and I leave them to mature until the end of the season. Even then sunlight is a critical factor to leaf maturity and lower leaves can be shaded out by the upper ones making them tend to cure green.

Most rusticas will not have a yellowing phase and normally go straight to a dark reddish brown. I find that you can give the leaves a helping hand to colour cure if you stack the leaves in piles for a week after harvesting before stringing them up to hang - the piles will need dismantling and re-stacking several times in order to stop the leaves beginning to compost so it's fairly labour intensive.

I use all my rustica as chewing tobacco so I'm not sure if this method will create the best tobacco for smoking ... but it does result in nicely coloured big leaves that have a good flavour.
 

deluxestogie

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#8
Valuable information. My poor opinion of the taste of N. rustica may be the result of immature harvesting. My experience with Sacred Cornplanter rustica was that earwigs loved to eat holes in the leaves, and even to nest on the plant. I felt that waiting longer to harvest would result in nothing but skeletal leaf. I may try a few plants next season, treat it early with permethrin, then wait longer to harvest.

I'll add this thread to the Index of Key Forum Threads: http://fairtradetobacco.com/threads/3868-Key-threads-in-the-FTT-forum

Bob
 

PeacePipe

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#9
I have seen Rustica grow (flower) well past the first frost and snow here without giving any visual maturity indication like with N.Tabacum.. I usually harvest Rustica both prime and whole plant once cooler weather arrives in order to slow the air drying process.. I have seen all color shades mentioned by air drying with many variables but when kept at optimal conditions the greenest will become beautiful looking tobacco if its allowed to wilt and dry very slow. This is the only type I tie into hands when green..

Rusticas final product even when aged long term is pretty basic smoke compared to the different types of N.Tabacum but it serves its purpose here in Anishinaabe Aki as a ceremonial tobacco even though common tobacco is used and accepted as a common replacement or alternative many traditionalists prefer this over the rest..
 

Chicken

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#10
i grew it once.. it definatlly. is way too strong for a cigg. blend... as a member stated he used it for chewing bacca.....

id imagine it would be good for chew or snuff..
 

squeezyjohn

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#11
I have seen Rustica grow (flower) well past the first frost and snow here without giving any visual maturity indication like with N.Tabacum.. I usually harvest Rustica both prime and whole plant once cooler weather arrives in order to slow the air drying process.. I have seen all color shades mentioned by air drying with many variables but when kept at optimal conditions the greenest will become beautiful looking tobacco if its allowed to wilt and dry very slow. This is the only type I tie into hands when green..
Unfortunately in my climate (England) there are no optimal conditions to be had in a barn or shed unless you can afford temperature and humidity regulation of some kind!

We've just hit the crunch point here where if you miss checking on the tobacco hanging it will go mouldy as quick as a flash ... it normally happens at the end of October/beginning of November when the nights are damp and cool and the condensation forms on the leaf. I choose this time to take it in and make my twists even if there is some green showing.

Mold on rustica is quite different to the way N.Tabacum varieties tend to go. The stem is not the part which catches the mold first, it begins in the large pores on the back side of the leaves - normally towards the tips and it happens more readily on greener leaves too. You can see little black dots if you catch it early and there is a very distinctive smell of ammonia and funk which almost smells like a less legal herb!

This is what it will look like at the very beginning - the mouldy part is unusable - but you can use the rest of the leaf.
Photo on 30-10-2015 at 10.56PM.jpg

If you catch it later ... the mould will have white on it and then the whole leaf is ruined.
Photo on 30-10-2015 at 10.56PM #2.jpg

Although my twists will still be a little green when I make them - they will brown up if stored in the house in a box at regular household temps and humidity - I think this is similar to PeacePipe's hanging in hands.
 

PeacePipe

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#12
Thanks for the valuable information and photo documentation. I have only seen the beginning stage of this type of mold due to condensation as you mentioned..
I also will note too that Rustica seems to be very prone to Anthracnose. It can develop as well on the leaves when wilting/drying, but at this stage in the game its not so critical and its damage is minimal besides cosmetic value, but even this will be very hard to see once its shredded .. Sadly this disease can really put the plants into stress mode and fast..
 
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