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Common name of the plant Nicotiana tabacum and, to a limited extent, Aztec tobacco (N. rustica) and the cured leaf that is used, usually after aging and processing in various ways, for smoking, chewing, snuffing, and extraction of nicotine. Various other species in the genus Nicotiana are grown as ornamentals, known collectively as flowering tobaccos. This article deals with the farming of commercial tobacco from cultivation to curing and grading.
Maryland strains, used for the production of light air-cured tobaccos, may be planted 81 to 91 cm (32 to 36 inches) apart or closer. Broadleaf and seed-leaf strains, including the Havana seed, Cuban, and Sumatra varieties, are used for the production of cigars; they are grown in rows spaced 1 metre (3 feet) apart, with individual plants placed at a distance of 38 to 68 cm (15 to 27 inches) from each other. The variety grown for production of Perique is spaced the widest, with rows 1.5 metres (5 feet) apart and 91 to 107 cm (36 to 42 inches) between plants. Aromatic tobaccos, also used for cigars, are spaced in rows 38 to 60 cm (15 to 24 inches) apart with 8 to 20 cm (3 to 8 inches) between plants in the row. Large-leaf tobaccos are often topped—that is, the terminal growth is removed—when the plant has reached the desired size, usually at or shortly after flowering.
The number of leaves remaining varies widely. Dark air-cured and fire-cured tobaccos may have 10 to 16 leaves, while Burley, flue-cured, Maryland, and cigar types may have 16 to 20 leaves. After topping, the suckers, or lateral shoots, are removed to increase leaf development, providing increased yields. The work may be done by hand, in which case it must be repeated regularly, or by application of sucker-suppressing chemicals. Aromatic tobacco culture differs from that of most of the large-leafed tobaccos in that the plants are rarely topped and preferably are grown on soils of low produ
ctivity. Common insect pests are green June beetle larvae, cutworms, and flea beetles in the plant bed and hornworms, grasshoppers, flea beetles, cutworms, budworms, and aphids in the field. The cigarette, or tobacco, beetle damages the stored leaf and sometimes the manufactured product. Insect pests are controlled on the growing crop by using pesticide sprays and dusts, on the stored product by fumigating and trapping. Biological control often is effective. Fumigation controls nematodes in the field. (Source: www.britannica.com)