The Cuban government declared October 10 as the official start of the planting season for the 2016-2017 tobacco crop.
Inocente Núñez Blanco, co-president of Habanos S.A., told Cigar Aficionado this week in Havana that there was a small ceremony in the Pinar del Río region to inaugurate the planting season. While growers were not restricted to only plant after October 10, the official launch is the government's declaration that now is the most opportune time to get tobacco plants into the fields.
"I saw a lot of great seedlings in the greenhouses. It has been an excellent season so far in terms of the climate," Núñez Blanco said, acknowledging that some farmers had already planted their crops.
Núñez Blanco also said that he expected this year's plantings to be the largest in recent years. He said that the government projects there will 28,000 hectares (nearly 70,000 acres) planted on the island nation, but he would only characterize that as "much more than previous years." He said that there are plenty of fertilizers and chemicals to control fungus and disease, and there is plenty of cloth for covering crops of shade-grown tobacco. He said there will be no shortages of raw materials for the growing season.
"We are really hoping that the weather cooperates this year. We have had three, even four years, of poor crops," he said. He added that while the country has good inventories of filler and binder tobacco, the recent mediocre harvests have left the country with short supplies of top-quality wrapper.