Whole Leaf Tobacco

OK, I'll be first to post on suncuring !!!

LeftyRighty

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
451
Points
28
Location
west central MO
OK, this is how I ‘sun-cure’.

This is Ottoman on the left (in the pvc.pipe-frame) and the hanging string on the far-right, and Bursa & Turkish Early (in the wood frame). They have been doing the sun-cure part-time for about a week. The Black Sea Samsun is still in the shed doing the stack/pile pre-curing.



The Ottoman, Turkish Early & Bursa were picked about 5 weeks after topping. The BS Samsun was picked 6+ weeks after topping the plant – seemed really slow to mature for some reason.

After priming, I do the stack/pile method for 4 to 7 days to pre-cure them. When picked, most of the leaves were still pretty green, some starting to show some yellow.
(I always found it interesting the leaves with yellow tips and edges, and even showing some yellow in the middle of the leaf, will go to mostly green the first couple days in the pile – then they go back to yellowing.) I’ll start stringing the leaves as they get limp, showing good yellow spots or a lighter green color. I keep them in the shade until I have a full string, then hang on the frame and start sunning them.

(edit) BS Samsun seems particularly slow at going from green to yellowing -- so, after a few days of the stack/pile cure, I'm doing an air-cure - hanging them in the shed, out of the sun, until they are showing some good yellowing, then to the rack.

Because they still show too much green, they only get 2 to 4 hours per day in the sun, until the outer edges and tops of the leaves have mostly yellowed or browned. Even then, I’ll have some leaves that will dry green on the edges – just something to cut off and discard later. When not in the sun, they are moved to the shade where they can still get a little breeze or air movement. When mostly all yellow/brown showing, they get all-day sunshine until they are fully cured and completely crispy/crunchy dry, including the midribs. Last year, it took about 5-6 weeks to fully cure.

These frames go into the shed overnight, on rainy or stormy days, and on very windy days – a good wind seems to dry these green quicker than the sun.
I also learned that when the leafy part is dry, and waiting for the midrib to dry, that a strong wind can really beat them up – lost a lot of good leafy parts on a windy day last year.

Because these leaves are strung tightly against each other, I’ve been a little leery about mold. Last year, if they spent more than overnight in the shed, or it was way too humid and I didn’t think they were getting enough sun, I would spritz the tops of the string with Serenade. Don’t really know if it helped or not, but I didn’t have any mold issues.

When fully cured, I’ll keep them hanging until we have a humid or rainy day, and they come back into case. Then I’ll box them up to rest for about a month or two, then into the crockpot kiln for 4-6 weeks, and another month or so of resting in the box before blending/shredding for my cigarettes.

Last years crop of turkish blended well with my virginia, made a decent smoke.
But smoking straight Turkish is just wrong – way too weird tasting and harsh.
 
Last edited:

LeftyRighty

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
451
Points
28
Location
west central MO
2x2 wood frame, with scrap wood-trim braces, nailed & gorilla-glued.
2'-0" clear between verticals. 7'-0" total height (was 8 ft, but was a bit too long to handle to get in & out of my shed)
cross brace at 3 ft and 6 ft from top.

I originally made it 4 ft wide, but it was way to flimsy.
tore it down and rebuilt to 2 ft width - haven't finish the 2nd frame yet (don't need it yet)

the tobacco is strung on 22 gage galv. wire - about perfect for 2 ft long string.
learned also that tobacco weight on a 4 ft string was way too much -
the tight packing of turkish on a string is a lot heavier than the normal spacing for air-drying, especially when green.
another plus for the 2 ft strings, a lot easier to handle, and the perfect lenght to string or hang like a garland in my crockpot kiln to either bring back to case or ferment.

now shown, the frame is upright with the tobacco hanging vertically, but my final intent is to lay this frame flat, on a base mounted about 3 ft above ground. Am thinking of throwing a plastic tarp over it at night, am hoping that ambient weather will be better in a month or so.
additional tobacco strings will be between these about 8-inches apart.

The Ottoman is from about 20 plants, Bursa & Turkish Early from 12 plants.
I'll get about 2 more strings from the 10 BSS plants, being pile-cured now.
Should have been 20-30% more but a June storm destroyed lots of leaves.


I've got another 140 turkish plants that were planted in July - am going to really be pushing my luck to get anything from them before the first killing frost, but hated to see a bare garden the rest of this summer. When I saw my virginia's bolting and forming flower buds in late-May, I decided to try a second crop, and had lots of turkish seeds, mostly BSS.
I will probably top these 5 or 6 weeks before our average first frost, regardless of how big the plants are, and just take whatever I get - which will probably be too many itty-bitty leaves.
As I look at my 140 plants now, I think I may have to make more frames, and I'll have a 20 to 30 year supply of turkish to blend in my cigarettes. It'll keep me busy this fall.
 
Last edited:

BaccaChew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2011
Messages
57
Points
0
Location
near Scio, oregon
Thanks very much LeftyRighty. Very insightful.

I was making wire hooks out of a tangle of rusty wire I could not bear to throw away, haning maybe 4 or 5 leaves per hook on the garage door track. Was thinking that would not suffice for all my plants. Okay for the sand lugs!

I think our farm store sells aluminum wire and I know welding shops sell nifty sizes of stainless rods that are REALLY thin.

Much appreciated.
 

LeftyRighty

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
451
Points
28
Location
west central MO
I just use this 22 ga galv wire, cheapo, about $5 for 150 ft in most hardware stores.
24 gage wire is about the same $$$ for twice as much wire, it's strong enough, but a bit flimsy to handle.
It is ample for air-cure hanging all my leaves at 4 ft between rafters, since the leaves are about 1/2 to 1 inch spacing - not that much weight !

I've never understood the argument against galvanized wire. Yes, it contains zinc, which can be medically harmful, BUT....

when you poke the wire through the stem, that wound seals up quickly, just like the broken end of the stem.
I seriously doubt that much, if any, of the zinc oxides ever get carried through the stem into the leafy parts, especially since the wire is usually coated with oils to keep it shiny when it comes from the mill. Anyway, aren't the juices moving out of the leaf, back to the stem as the leaf cures and dries?
And if it does, then......
What about the aluminum oxides coating alum. wire, they're just as medically dangerous.
And stainless steel does oxidize also, just rub your finger on it. SS is about 10% chromium by weight, and it doesn't show rust or oxidation because of the thin coating of chromiun oxide that develops, and chromium is significately more medically dangerious then zinc.
If the acidic sap in the tobacco leaf stem is picking up oxides in the wire, and distributing it into the leaf, then the safest wire to use is plain ole rusty iron/steel. The body can deal with iron oxides - ain't much different that using an iron skillet for your bacon/eggs in the morning.
 
Last edited:

BigBonner

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
1,671
Points
63
Location
Kentucky
I use the aluminum wire . I get the electric fence wire at tractor supply .
My way of thinking is aluminum wire aluminum pop can . what would be the difference ?

The aluminum will thread right through the stems and wraps easy around any nail or rafter .
 

FmGrowit

Head Honcho
Staff member
Joined
May 17, 2011
Messages
5,103
Points
113
Location
Freedom, Ohio, United States
I'm sure there would be no problem with either wire since you're going through the mid rib. If you were stringing Turkish through the lamina, I'd use cotton or nylon twine just to be safe.

LeftyRighty, I'd check in between the leaves once in a while just ot make sure you're not getting any mold growth. The leaf I've sun cured was smaller than yours. I kept it in the sun all day, but only inches from the ground where it picked up humidity. I think the direct sunlight prevented any mold growth by keeping the temperature pretty high.
 

LeftyRighty

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
451
Points
28
Location
west central MO
Don't have a problem with aluminum wire , except cost, and it leaves my fingers black from handling it, and it's too thick to stick through those skinny stems of the smaller turkish leaves.
For what it's worth, aluminum pop cans have a plastic lining, to keep the acids in the soda from reacting to the aluminum.

FmGrowit... I do a fairly thorough check of the leaves to be sure no mold is developing, when I take it in/out of the shed each day. The outer exposed edges of most all leaves are now brown and dry, but the inner (non-exposed) portions of these leaves are still yellow/green and moist. Tough to examine without crumbling the dry outer parts - got to be careful. Usually in the AM, overnight humidity has softened them, and once or twice, I spritzed with water and let sit for an hour before checking and setting out in the sun.
I won't string through the lamina of leaf - did that once and it tears through to easily when dry, won't do it anymore.
 

dkh2

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2011
Messages
551
Points
18
Location
Southern Washington State I can see Oregon from my
I use the aluminum wire . I get the electric fence wire at tractor supply .
My way of thinking is aluminum wire aluminum pop can . what would be the difference ?

The aluminum will thread right through the stems and wraps easy around any nail or rafter .
That's what I have done this year the wire was 17 gauge Aluminum wire it was 19 bucks for 1/4 mile and 4.59 for 250 feet.
at Home Depot.
That's whats in my avatar and in this picture.



And here



All these leaves are nice and brown now.
 

LeftyRighty

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
451
Points
28
Location
west central MO
yeah, I've always alternated the leaf face direction, SOP.

But you wouldn't dare hang them with that spacing in the direct sun,; they'd be dried green in a day.
I just counted the bigger leaves in the 2 ft strings - 88 and 95.
Undoubtedly more in the smaller leaf Ottoman strings.
They have to be crowded on the string to cure slowly in the sun.

17 ga alum wire would be OK for my bigger virginia & burley. I've got them at 40-50+ range on 4 ft strings in the shed. But I'd like to see someone thread those skinny Ottoman stems onto a fat 17 gage wire - you'd need a scalpel to split the stem first....

Didn't realize that alum wire was that cheap - too late for this season, will go shopping for my 2012 crop.
 

LeftyRighty

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
451
Points
28
Location
west central MO
dkh2.....
to me, it's almost unimaginable that I could pick leaves that green, and get them to cure brown.
big difference in ambient weather between the northwest and midwest.
I started priming virginia's the first week of July. Most were fully ripe when primed, and I had to pile/stack sweat them for 4-7 days to start them turning before I could hang them up. Temps have been in the mid-90's to over 100 since then, and relatively low RH, the number of days less than 90 could be counted on one hand. The temp inside my shed, where I hang, runs about 10 degrees hotter in the sun, even with the doors/windows open. I'm feeling real lucky that I had so few dry green.
One big advantage of the high heat - too hot for mold. Almost don't even bother looking for it anymore.
Most the virginia is fully dry now. I've got to wait for some humid days now before I can touch them, maybe in September.

But it's a different story on mold with turkish, leaves too crowded together. So far, I've been lucky.

This week, we finally got a cold spell - temps in the 80's. I turned off the AC and opened windows.
 

LeftyRighty

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
451
Points
28
Location
west central MO
my stuff

OK, I'll bite, and show you mine.
hard to get a good photo looking up in my shed.

following:
3 row (35+ feet) of Coker 371 on left
green stuff is about half my BSS trying to yellow some before getting hung to sun-cure
6 rows (70 feet) of Silkleaf
and there's about 15 ft of burley way in the back

the open space, where the BSS is, is for the rest of the dozen burley plants still trying to growing in this heat/drought.

a closer shot of the Silkleaf, crispy dry.


I've got about 30+ feet of Virginia Gold, and 15 feet of Tennesse Red burley hanging in the garage, but the lighting is so poor that I ain't even gonna try taking a photo...damn AlGore low-wattage fluorescent bulbs.
 

FmGrowit

Head Honcho
Staff member
Joined
May 17, 2011
Messages
5,103
Points
113
Location
Freedom, Ohio, United States
As for stringing the smaller leaves...

Traditional Oriental/Turkish tobacco is a very small leaf. It's usually no bigger than 6" long, sometimes the whole plant is processed...stalk and all. When the leaf is that small, you can't pierce the mid-rib. All you have to do is pierce the lamina close to the mid-rib and above the lowest vein. When hanging upside down, the vein will act like a hook and keep the leaf on the string.
 

LeftyRighty

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
451
Points
28
Location
west central MO
I'm prefer the full flavor cigarettes !

FrGrowit....
I've never had a problem threading this 22 or 24 ga wire thru the smaller stems, just need to put on my reading glasses.
I tried running the wire thru the small leaf in that manner last year - most of them broke off when dry in the wind. Won't do it again.
 
Top