In the first stage of the growing process, tobacco seeds are sown in specially constructed seedbeds. At the same time, farmers carefully prepare the soil in their fields. After two months in the beds, the seeds have grown into plants approximately 15-20 centimeters high and are ready to be transplanted to the field. The plants grow in the field for a further two to three months. Throughout the growing process, the plants are cultivated to maximize yield and quality, the soil is tended regularly, and care is taken to protect the plants from pests and disease.
Harvesting is the next stage of the process. Harvesting is either done leaf by leaf in the case of Virginia and oriental tobaccos, or by the whole plant, in the case of burley. Harvesting has to take place when the leaves are mature (or ripe) and in prime condition for the next stage, the curing process.
Curing plays a major role in contributing to the final leaf quality. Different ways of curing are used for different types of tobacco: air-curing for burley, flue-curing for Virginia, and sun-curing for oriental.
Once the leaves are cured, the farmer sorts them according to their quality and stalk position. The leaves are then packed into bales ready to be shipped. Tobacco bales are moved to a buying station where they are assessed and subsequently purchased by leaf buyers.
The tobacco is then processed, which for the burley and Virginia tobaccos includes separation of the lamina from the stem. The tobacco is dried to the ideal moisture content, packed into cases, and shipped to our manufacturing centers around the world.