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Edgar Cullman Jr.

CEO, General Cigar Company
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96

(continued from page 2)

Cullman: Yes.

CA: Today, how many acres do you own of wrapper tobacco land, and of that, how much is being farmed?

Cullman: We still own about 5,500 acres of land in Connecticut, but most of it is not available for tobacco now. I shouldn't say most of it. A good portion of it. We have about 330 acres that we're growing this summer.

CA: Isn't that substantially lower than in the past?

Cullman: Way down.

CA: But with the demand for large-leaf Connecticut wrappers growing so rapidly, why is the farming operation getting smaller and smaller?

Cullman: It actually has increased in the last three years. It was down to about 200 acres, when we hit our lowest point. The biggest problem is that every acre costs at least $25,000 to grow. It's just a risky and expensive business. We're able to today, because of our involvement with the grower Oliver Thrall, to have access to a lot more tobacco than we had before. Thrall is one of the growers in Connecticut who used to be with Windsor Shade. He has broken away from Windsor Shade as of last year. We processed tobacco for him in the Dominican Republic. And our agreement is such that we have first pick of certain tobaccos that he grows.

The real demand is for tobaccos for premium cigars, not for domestically made cigars. What we used to do is sell a significant portion of our tobacco to English buyers and use some of the rest for ourselves and for domestic cigars. The higher primings, the tobaccos that had more guts, were used for Macanudo. But we really are not in the business of growing tobacco for other manufacturers.

CA: How many acres does Thrall farm?

Cullman: He farms about 300-plus acres.

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