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Late Season Rains Threaten Cuban Tobacco Harvest

Heavy rains late in the harvesting season could mean trouble for Cuba’s tobacco growers, and some researchers are suggesting that shifting climates could provide a significant challenge for the Pinar del Río region to maintain its unique environmental balance that results in its signature tobacco.

Several farmers and workers told IPSNews.net that the increased rainfall could result in plant rot and that the adverse weather has forced them to push back harvesting and resort to picking capadura, a lower quality leaf, in order to maximize production. The article cites local reports of the loss of 813 hectares in Pinar del Río, with damage to another 1,000 hectares of the region’s 15,000 hectares of tobacco producing land, forcing some farmers to uproot their crops and replant as much as three times.

Between the regions of San Juan y Martinez and San Luis, they provide 86 percent of the tobacco used in premium Cuban cigars.

The challenge to produce tobacco crops as in years past could become more of a challenge, as Dayana Hernández and Aliet Achkienazi, researchers at the state Meteorology Institute, are forecasting a warming trend that will increase every decade this century and disrupt the natural balance that has given Cuban tobacco its signature taste. The pair recently published a study on climate change in the region and the impact it will have on tobacco production and cultivation.

Representatives from Habanos SA have not replied to requests for comments on the situation.

 

 

Patrick Lagreid: I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the Spring Training public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies, PA announcer for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, and PA announcer for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. I'm also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice talent and writer, among other things. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.