Cuba's prime tobacco growing region in the Pinar del Río province has escaped any serious effects from the close call with Hurricane Irma. Communications with Havana are still difficult, but Cigar Aficionado was able to speak directly with Hirochi Robaina, the owner of Cuchillas de Barbacoa, in San Luis, Pinar del Río.
"We had no problems here at all," Robaina said in a telephone interview Sunday morning. "We had some rain. We had a little wind, but nothing serious. Thank God."
While there are other tobacco growing regions in Cuba to the east of Havana, an area which was hard hit by Irma, the prime wrapper and best filler tobacco comes from the western end of the island in the Vuelta Abajo and Pinar del Río, several hundred miles west of Havana. The 2017-2018 crop is not in the ground yet, but preparations are under way to get tobacco plants started in greenhouses. Any direct hit from a hurricane now would probably have delayed the start of planting until later in the year.
Last year's crop, 2016-2017 was said to be the best, and the largest, in years, after three straight years of small crops with lower quality tobacco due to excessive rains during the growing seasons. But to make up for those three consecutive mediocre crops, Cuba needs another excellent crop to meet demand for its best cigars.