Whole Leaf Tobacco

Deciding on Varieties to Grow for Pipe Blending and Cigars

deluxestogie

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I have been asked many times about recommendations for seed varieties to grow for pipe blending and cigars. This is my personal answer (for now).


Growing tobacco in Civilization IV Colonization.

Picking varieties for cigars and pipe depends on how they come out in your location, whether or not you intend to flue-cure the Virginias, and what sort of cigars you like to smoke. There are somewhere between 2000 and 3000 identified varieties of Nicotiana tabacum, so as you read through my comments below, you are certain to ask, "But, what about (fill in the blank)?" The roughly 100 varieties that I have grown account for only 3 to 5% of what is out there. That makes me a relative newbie, and limited in my tobacco horizon.

For pipe tobacco, I like to have:
  • a flue-cure variety
  • an Oriental
  • a Dark Air Cure variety
  • one or more non-cigar varieties to make into Perique and Cavendish
  • a mild burley
  • at present, the only way to get good Latakia is to buy it from WLT
Knucklehead recommended Costello as a flue-cure variety that performed well when sun-cured. I usually grow Virginia Bright Leaf as my flue-cure variety, since I will actually flue-cure it.

Prilep 66-9/7 is a sweet, aromatic and prolific Oriental that sun-cures nicely, and can be flue-cured as well. Izmir varieties, Xanthi and Yenidje are typical Orientals used in commercial blends. The stronger Orientals include Bafra, Samsun, Samsun-Maden, Shirazi and Djebel. There are dozens of others that I have not grown. Among those, Trabzon would likely be the strongest.

The only dark-air variety that I have grown is Little Yellow (from New Hope Seeds). Though sometimes an important component in my pipe blends, I use so little dark-air (~1/16), that I now just use dark-air from WLT--and it lasts a long time. (The Little Yellow is more flavorful, and slightly milder.)

Perique and Cavendish can be made from any variety. Their final strength is directly determined by the strength of the variety used. Maryland varieties (MD 609 is quite productive) result in a mild-medium strength. Burley will make a robust and pungent Perique.

There is a wide choice available for burley. For a rich variety, TN 90 is a productive choice. I usually grow a more subtle and mild burley developed in Canada: Harrow Velvet.

The cigar varieties offer an insanely broad set of choices:
  • wood and leather American fillers
  • American wrappers and binders and fillers
  • American Havana-derived types
  • Indonesian (Sumatra Deli Leaf and Besuki derived) wrappers and binders
  • Central American and Caribbean Havana-type fillers
  • unique landrace cigar varieties
"Wood and Leather" is my own category that includes Little Dutch, Dutch (Ohio), Pennsylvania Red and Long Red. Of these, the Dutch (Ohio) and Long Red are not as intense, but are much more productive. Every year, I grow at least one from this group.

Many traditional American cigar varieties are hugely prolific, and can serve as the bulk of the filler blend in medium-strength cigars. Here, I would recommend Swarr-Hibshman, Lancaster Seed Leaf, Pennsylvania Broadleaf and Wisconsin 901. Uniquely American wrapper/binder varieties can be divided into shade leaf and sun-grown. My experience with American shade varieties when grown in sun is that they don't make good wrappers. Among the traditionally sun-grown wrapper/binders, Connecticut Broadleaf should do well in full sun, but my attempts were dogged by blue mold. The Indonesian-derived wrappers/binders (see below) do very well in full sun. Mont Calme Brun (Canadian) makes huge, mild leaf.

In addition to the numbered Havana varieties (Havana 322 would be my favorite), Comstock Spanish and Zimmer Spanish are also Havana-derived.

Indonesian and Indonesia-derived wrappers and binders do well when fully sun-grown. These include Sumatra, Besuki, Timor, and Florida Sumatra.

Central America, the Caribbean islands and South America supply most of the commercial cigar tobacco that we see. As for available seed, sources are spotty. My favorites are Corojo 99, Criollo, Vuelta Abajo, Machu Picchu Havana, Piloto Cubano and Dominican Olor.

The two landrace tobaccos that I have grown are Baldió Vera (from Spain's Extremadura) and Nostrano del Brenta (from the Brenta Valley of Italy). The Baldió Vera is burley-like in appearance, with huge, easily cured leaves, but does not taste like burley to me. Nostrano del Brenta yields massive leaves that cure to a mild, unique cigar flavor, with mid to upper leaves that kiln to deep oscuro.

I could continue, but I think this hits the highlights.

Bob
 

Charly

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Thank you Bob for this excellent overview of what to grow !
I think it should be added in the Beginner's FAQ !
It makes me think that I have a lot of strains to try :D
 

deluxestogie

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This post is in the "What to Grow" sub-forum, and is a sticky, so it should be relatively easy to locate without a search. I believe the FAQ should not be much longer than its present length. I consider the FAQ similar to a "Quick Start" pamphlet included with new computer hardware and software. For non-essential details, you need to read the longer documentation.

I should emphasize again that the initial post of this thread is just a collection of my impressions. Contributions from other members are invited.

Bob
 

DistillingJim

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I'd quite like to unpack the flue-cured/virginia variety a bit more. When buying a tin they tend to describe by color rather than varietal which to my mind begs the question if there is much benefit in growing one type over the other in terms of flavor? I'm doing Cherry Red this year but when cured will it really taste that different to Costello, Virginia Bright Leaf or another varietal?
 

SmokesAhoy

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Generally the different strains are different due to adding resistances, increasing yields or somehow trying to change some trait while keeping the end product the same.
 

ChinaVoodoo

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I'd quite like to unpack the flue-cured/virginia variety a bit more. When buying a tin they tend to describe by color rather than varietal which to my mind begs the question if there is much benefit in growing one type over the other in terms of flavor? I'm doing Cherry Red this year but when cured will it really taste that different to Costello, Virginia Bright Leaf or another varietal?
I have found differences in flavor, growth habit, and curability between strains. The Helena and Costello I grew were similar. Helena a bit sweeter. The Ternopolski and Ostrolist were similar. Ostrolist a bit stronger. But Helena & Costello vs Ostrolist and Ternopolski? Big difference in leaf thickness and burn rate, sugar content, and therefore taste. I think you can kinda group them, right. Like these are almost identical, but differ from that group which is almost identical.
 
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