Cuba’s famed Pinar del Río—the country’s most famous tobacco-growing region—will have a smaller than anticipated tobacco crop this year due to a fertilizer shortage.
Granma, Cuba’s state-run newspaper, says that there could be tobacco planted in as many as 13,921 hectares, a 17.6 percent drop from the 16,373 ha the country announced in August would be planted in Pinar del Río, a number again announced on Oct. 10 when planting began. According to the newspaper, the reduction is largely due to a fertilizer shortage. Cuban officials told Granma that despite the smaller planting area—the newspaper says it will be the smallest in at least a decade—that the yields of recent crops have been better, which could mean the harvest may not be as small.
Unfortunately, the fertilizer issue is hardly the only problem Cuba’s tobacco crop faces. Hurricane Ida—which sent strong winds to Pinar del Río in late August—damaged “some 3,000 ha” of seedbeds which will now be replanted next month. That means roughly 20 percent of Pinar del Río’s crop will be planted outside of the preferred growing window, which should mean lower yields for that tobacco.
All this comes as retailers and distributors are experiencing unique shortages of Cuban cigars, particularly vitolas that are larger than a robusto. Given the process used to create cigars, a reduced 2021-2022 harvest is likely little difference of alleviating or worsening the shortage in the next year, but given Cuba’s reliance on Pinar del Río—it provides roughly two-thirds of the tobacco grown in Cuba—the crop issues will likely cause future problems.