Whole Leaf Tobacco

Dominican Tobacco Growing 1948


Staff member
May 25, 2011
near Blacksburg, VA

Laborer holding a sarta of green tobacco rolled up ready to hang in the rancho. Other sartas appear in the background.

In searching for info on Amarillo Parado, I stumbled into this wonderful report on traditional tobacco growing practices in the Dominican Republic, found on Archive.org. It is 27 typed pages, accompanied by black and white photos (if you download the pdf version). Many of the techniques discussed will be familiar to most home tobacco growers.

Below is a quote regarding fermentation.

Tobacco in the Dominican Republic said:
After curing is completed, the tobacco is baled and wrapped in yaguas (expanded
base of the palm leaf), or in dry plantain leaves, and is ready to undergo fermentation
in the grower's rancho or in the warehouse . The tobacco is now humidified or moistened,
according to its condition, to bring about the proper fermentation. The amount of moistening depends upon the condition of the leaf. If it is light and chaffy, much
less moisture is allowed in order that slow fermentation may take place. If the tobacco
is heavy, sufficient moisture should be added to maintain a more active fermentation.
Fermentation takes place in rectangular cases, 1.2 to 2 meters wide and 1.5
to 2 meters high. The tobacco is packed in these in layers, with the leaf stems
placed at the periphery of the case. Each case is provided with a thermometer, which
is considered an indispensable part of the equipment for proper temperature control.
This is placed within a wooden tube and is located near the middle, about two-thirds
of the distance from the bottom of the pack.

After these arrangements the case is well covered with old "serones" (woven sacks
for carrying fruit, vegetables, etc.)> dry plantain leaves, or pieces of jute fabric.
In a few days, if there is a rise in temperature, this should be noted each day
on a chart. If the temperature rises 1° to 2° Centigrade each 24 hours, the fermentation
process is normal, but a sudden rise of 4° to 8° daily indicates an abnormal
condition, resulting from excessive moisture and heating in the pack. In this instance
the pack must be opened, aerated, and again properly packed so that the leaves
in the former packs which were near the top will now be near the bottom, and those
which were near the bottom will be near the top.
If the tobacco is light or chaffy, the temperature of the pack should not exceed
50° C. (122° F.). If the leaf is heavy, the temperature may reach 55° to 60° C.
(131° to 140° F.) without harm. The packs should net be allowed to exceed these
maxima. If necessary, the packs should be opened and turned, exchanging the position
of upper and lower layers as indicated above in the repack. Following this procedure
the temperature will not rise so high, and when it has reached 34° to 37° C. (93.2°
to 98.6° F.) fermentation is completed. The tobacco is ready to be assorted and
baled for shipment.


Geographic Position of the Dominican Republic
Growing Regions
Methods of Seeding and Subsequent Care of Bed
Disbudding and Suckering
Harvesting and Curing
Sorting and Packing
Diseases and Insects
Exportation of Tobacco
Improvement of Dominican Tobacco