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Whole Leaf Tobacco

When should I harvest?

2Baccy

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#1
I’ve searched as much as possible and cannot find exactly when I should harvest. I’m trying to make a Canadian Virginia flu cure type tobacco.
My research tells me when the lower leaves begin to get thick,rough and splotchy yellow patches all throughout and yellow to brown tips its ready.
And I realize I should start at the bottom and remove a few leaves at a time as they ripen over the course of a few weeks.(priming)
Am I correct on this or not? I’m just not sure if I may be leaving them too long.
I do not have a flu cure chamber for this summer unfortunately but will try before another season maybe. This year I am trying a natural yellowing (colour cure) buy hanging in a shed with door open. Followed buy a sun cure to hopefully lock yellow colour. It’s been 3 days and the leaves are already going yellow slowly but noticeably.

I still find it hard to believe the extreme temperatures needed to flu cure tobacco and how people in the early 1900’s were able to do this in old barns with “flu” pipe run through. Especially without burning the whole setup to the ground.
 

Alpine

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#2
I am a cigarette smoker too. Picking the leaves when they are ripe (thick alligator texture of the surface, yellow splotches) is the moment you look for. Only 2 to 3 leaves per plant will be ready, then you have to wait another couple of days for some more leaves to ripen. If you leave the leaves on the plant a few more days, no problems. Flue curing can (and has been) be done at home, AmaxB wrote a whole and very useful thread about it.
Sun cure is the poor’s man flue cure, and that’s what I do each year (well, if and when the weather collaborates) for my bright leaf tobacco. But home grown, air cured baccy is just as good.

pier
 

deluxestogie

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#3
When you prime the leaf won't really matter too much, since you will not be flue-curing. What you will be making is air-cured Virginia leaf. Wait at least until you begin to see a tip of yellow on the leaves. Prime batches of leaf that are at roughly the same degree of maturity.

If you construct a flue-cure chamber, and flue-cure even a single batch of leaf, you will never again consider sun-curing as a practical substitute. The finished tobacco is a different animal. [For not much more than the cost of a carton of commercial cigarettes, you can construct a reasonable flue-cure chamber.]

Historically, heating log tobacco barns has been required in many regions, to avoid mold on the curing leaf. To not leave the persistent, smoky taste of an open fire, the use of a metal flue dates to the early 19th Century. Many a tobacco barn burned down. Bright-curing tobacco was discovered only in the second half of that century, by a careless or lazy worker over-stoking the flue-fire. Thermometers had been widely available for over 100 years by then. What you get with a proper flue-cure regimen (yup, you need those temperatures) is the bright-cured tobacco that is now called flue-cured. Even the most fortunate and skillful sun-curing doesn't come close to the same result.

Bob
 

2Baccy

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#4
Alright thanks guys. Pier do you lay your leaves out flat to soak up the sun or just strung out on the wire they are currently hung on? And how many days might you “sun” them?

Bob thanks for your response I will try my hand at make my a flu cure chamber whenever I get some other projects finished.

Side question not in the right section but I’ll ask anyway.
If I wanted to try making a red man style chew or a fine cut dip would Canadian Virginia variety be suitable?
I would also like to know if I should just leave my leaves hanging till brown if I wanted to try making chew.
Sorry for the stupid questions but it’s my first year ever growing
Thanks
 

Alpine

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#5
How I sun cure: pick the leaves, hang on a wire out of direct sunlight till almost completely yellow (3 to 4 days are usually enough), move in full sun until crispy dry. If the weather is very dry I cover the yellowing leaves with a plastic sheet, that of course must be removed in the subsequent drying stage.
In the (likely) lack of full sun, I let the leaves where they are, and simply air cure.
Kilning completes the task for both sun and air cured leaves.
As Bob rightly said, sun cured tobacco tastes nothing like real flue cured, but it’s close enough for my taste.

pier
 
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