Friday, February 25, 2011

Fred's Homegrown?

Yep. I'm thinking of becoming a grower. But not pot: Tobacco. I've thought about this off and on for some time and this New York Times article makes me think it might work. The gal seems to raise enough tobacco at her house to satisfy all her needs. Surely I could do the same?

After doing some brief research this looks a little tougher than I expected. They're a lot like tomatoes, being members of the Nightshade family. That has its own problems down here on the coast, most notably Early and Late Blight. They're also susceptible to the same pests, although I haven't had much of a problem with pests on tomatoes.

Another, and probably the biggest, hurdle I've found is the drying and curing requirements. I found something saying they need to be dried in the right humidity with relative humidity in the upper 60% range being optimum. Since 100% isn't uncommon here (it's supposedly 100% as I write this)that would mean you'd have to be able to dry it where humidity could be controlled.

Aging, or curing, is another issue. I guess most commercial tobacco is aged at least a year, if not longer. I've read that some varieties require up to 6 years(!). That requires long term storage space that would have to be rotated among crops. How could I pull that off?

Still, that gal in New York seems to be handling it ok. I've been trying to find a way to contact her to ask how exactly she does it but can't find a direct e-mail. She does have a Facebook page but it says not to Friend her unless you actually know her.

I'll keep working on this. If nothing else maybe I could just grow a few plants, stumble through the process and see how it works. If it's not too big a hassle, maybe more folks could start growing tobacco and we could have add a new definition to Humboldt Homegrown.


At 9:21 AM, Blogger Glen said...

I've grown tobacco from seed in Marin and Sonoma counties -- just to try. As you said, the processing was the hard part. I don't smoke, so it was a novelty for me.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Did you grow Flowering Tobacco, or the kind they grow for smoking? I believe they're different. Both Nicotania, but different species. I've heard Flowering Tobacco isn't smokable.

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous skippy said...

Fred, if we have 'pick your own' blueberries for sale, why not start a 'pick your own' tobacco farm? Humboldt used to grow and export tobacco back in the day, believe it or not. Here's why. Nowadays, the Feds (ATF) would be on you like stink if you did.

The problem is also finding the seeds and plants. There are some selling heirloom tobacco varieties surreptitiously at farmers markets-- a pretty flowering plant with velvet leaves similar to lamb's ears; I've purchased and grown a few in Eureka, doing well until the lightest of frosts arrive-- but you'll not find a single plant or seed for sale in the nurseries.

Why? There's protectionist laws in place by the tobacco industry. Un-libertarian as it seems, it's my understanding you must have a licensed permit not only to sell tobacco seeds and plants but to buy them as well.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Fred said...

The lady in that news article gets her seed from a seed place for $2.00 a packet according to the story. It's also legal to grow them as long as you don't sell the stuff.

I think it would be neat if you could get enough folks to start growing them to get a good black market going just as we have with pot, but I don't think it would be profitable enough.


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