Hailstorm Savages Padrón Tobacco Field

A hailstorm in Nicaragua turned a crop of tobacco destined to become Padrón cigars into a tattered mess.

The storm struck Saturday in Jalapa, Nicaragua. The field of tobacco was supposed to become wrappers on Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series and other cigars. But the hailstorm peppered the plants with holes, rendering them useless for wrapper.

“It destroyed practically the entire crop of what was left,” said Jorge Padrón, president of the Miami-based company, which makes all of its cigars in Nicaragua. Some of the tobacco had recently been planted, and was small, while many of the plants had been partially primed of their leaves.

The hail put holes in the plants that were in the fields, making some look as if they had been blasted by a shotgun at far range.

Leaves with this type of damage cannot be used as wrapper or binder, and there is so much damage that it’s unlikely that much of it can even be used as filler tobacco. “It looks like 90 percent of it is gone,” said Padrón. “There is very little that will be salvageable from this crop.”

The damage was only to the tobacco in the fields. Leaves that had already been primed and brought into the curing barns were unaffected.

The loss will not have an immediate impact on Padrón cigar production. “Our crops are still years away from being used,” said Padrón.

Padrón said that he and his 86-year-old father, a man who has been working around tobacco nearly his entire life, had never seen this type of damage in a tobacco field. “This has never happened to us before,” said Padrón. “It just further emphasizes how fragile this whole manufacturing process is.”

"This is a very interesting story, as I have been out of Nicaragua this week to attend the NATO show in Las Vegas Nevada. The thing that I find incredible is this hail situation. On April 3rd (2012) I was eating lunch at the Drew Estate Cigar Safari with some friends, including Shorty Rossi, "The PitBoss" (who happens to be a cigar lover) when a very strong storm hit unexpectedly, including severe lightning and thunder in my valley of Esteli. In my 14 years of living in Nicaragua, I have never witnessed a flash storm like this, so we abandoned our lunch and moved upstairs to the second floor of the lounge. And thats when things got really crazy. All of a sudden, the rain was no longer falling vertically downward, but instead it was moving completely horizontally. This continued for over 25 minutes and was totally insane, as though the world flipped upside down. The hail that fell was unbelievable and certainly nothing that I have experienced in Nicaragua in all my 14 years. The hail was bouncing off the spanish tiles like pieces of rice at a wedding. After the storm, we moved to the front of the factory into the production area. There were two pregnant woman who were evacuated due to stress from the storm and damage done to our conference room. As we were talking and looking around in shock, our factory, C.O.O., Manueal Runbio said that the Esteli News was calling it a tornado. No joke. My wife's parents, who have been living in Nicaragua their whole life told me that they have never experienced hail before - ever. Go figure - maybe it's the ISOM with a weather machine ... lol Best, JDrew" —April 28, 2012 11:54 AM
"All i smoke is Padrons :)" —April 25, 2012 15:06 PM
"While a Padron with an old broadleaf wrapper would be interesting to try, the Padrons aren't going to run out of Nicaraguan wrapper because of this storm. They have big inventories of tobacco." —April 24, 2012 22:27 PM
"Maybe a limited 64 series run with a broadleaf wrapper (anejo style)? I could picture something like that tasting similiar to a Liga Privada...." —April 24, 2012 21:26 PM
"Good thing I don't smoke Padrons." —April 24, 2012 19:00 PM
"Somewhere, a year from now, someone is going to be surprised by their delicious tasting cigarette." —April 24, 2012 18:27 PM