- The Plantation of Tobacco
- From Cultivation to the Culture of Tobacco
- Circulation and Development of the Project
The cycle of the plantation of tobacco starts with the sowing of its tiny seeds and concludes with the cure of the leaves.
At the beginning of March of each year, the seeds are put into seedbed, e.g. in a ground protected against atmospheric agents, in order to accelerate the bud of the seedlings that, otherwise, in open field, would not be able to grow and develop.
When the plants are about 5.9 in high, and have small leaves, it comes the time for transplanting and planting. Divided into files a meter away from each other, the seedlings are placed at intervals of 19.7 in. When the tobacco is about 15.7 in high, it is carried out topdressing using nitrogen, and when it exceeds the metre, the plant emits a beautiful purple flower. The flower is removed (topping) to prevent the interfering with the growth of the leaves.
The harvest of the leaves occurs in late July and early August, beginning, as already mentioned, from the lower leaves, a little later the middle leaves (those located on the central part of the shank) and towards September the higher ones (situated at the top).
All the leaves harvested are then dried in different ways: in dryers with hot air (for the Virginia tobacco), or through air-cured (for the Burley tobacco). At a later stage, the tobacco is packaged and sent to pre-manufacturing plants.
Manifattura Italiana Tabacco Spa, aware of the fact that tobacco-growing was a powerful factor in the socio-economic progress of many regions of our country, besides in its territory of origin, the Marche region, believes that the whole production chain of tobacco should be linked to its roots, firmly anchored to the territory.
Thus was born the idea of promoting “the culture of tobacco cultivation” by tracing the areas best suited to re-launch these important crops, to create small-scale productions of excellency in its beginning place.
The project is the result of a deep knowledge of the tobacco culture in Italy, of areas and environmental conditions more suited to revive the indigenous seeds; it is also necessitated a deep analysis of the local socio-cultural variables, and namely of the indispensable presence on the territory of knowledgeable people willing to invest their work in the revitalization of this area. The cultivation of tobacco has spine almost exclusively domestic and, for the constant cures and because of the difficulties to mechanize the majority of the interventions which requires, it needs a lot of labour.
The first stage of the project requires the identification of the ideal site. The soil can affect the yield and the quality of the tobacco because of its climatic characteristics. Tobacco can grow in any type of soil, but it is only in certain soils that it retains the most typical characteristics, resulting in a product of quality. Between the climatic factors that affect quantitatively and qualitatively the culture, the temperature, the relative humidity of the air, the duration and intensity of the lighting have a tremendous importance, too.
UOnce the soil has been chosen and verified the presence of a farm with the necessary experience and interested in pursuing the project, it begins the operational phase, meaning the control of the entire cycle of cultivation of the tobacco as described above.
The experimental project should last approximately two years and is followed up and controlled in all its stages by a technical-scientific expert, member of the Manifattura Italiana Tobacco. At the end of two years it is obtained a “local variety” with characteristics markedly different of the original plants. The tobaccos born and grown in the chosen ground, will acquire typical characteristics making the product unique and original in its genre when it will be used.
The proposed approach is the model of “local territorial development ” oriented to social and economic regeneration of the territory through the creation of new local agricultural entrepreneurship. The role of Manifattura Italiana Tabacco within the project is to till and offer training at the farm that will carry out the production in all its stages, sharing their knowledge and skills in order to have a high degree of control of the whole production chain.
The areas for the development of the project can either be those where the tobacco was historically grown or those that meet the best conditions for the variety of the selected tobacco (Virginia and Burley).
A site still in observation, but chosen for its favourable climatic conditions, is the area of Montelupone (Macerata, Italy) concerned with the cultivation of tobacco. Actually, decisive for the selection of the site, it is the consolidated experience in the field of biological cultivation of the local farm and owner of the area.
Another area of interest has been identified in Sardinia. The tobacco was cultivated on an island until the end of the ’50s and was an important economic resource for the farmers who had earmarked their lands to this kind of culture, but everything was abandoned after the closure of the Factory of Cagliari.
Other master plans for the revival of indigenous crops of tobacco are in the starting phase in the regions of Apulia, Campania, Umbria, and Veneto.
■ Projects that have already been launched
■ Projects in the starting phase