air-curing One of four main methods of curing, which involves removing all of the natural sap and moisture from tobacco leaves. Air-curing is a natural drying process in which harvested tobacco leaves are hung to dry in an air-curing barn. The barn is a wooden structure that can be either closed completely or ventilated, depending on weather conditions. The barn is closed to conserve moisture in dry conditions; in wet conditions, moisture is removed by opening vents in the roof and/or opening side walls that are specially constructed for this purpose. For the most part, air-cured tobacco is dried with natural heat; however, humid weather conditions may require a limited amount of artificial heat. Tobacco that has been air-cured is typically brown in color.
American-blend cigarettes One of the main types of blended cigarettes, which are made with a mixture of tobacco varieties. The most popular of the blended cigarettes, these are made with a mixture of flue-cured, burley, and oriental tobacco. The specific percentage of each type varies from brand to brand, but, generally, flue-cured is around 50 percent of the blend while oriental is the smallest percentage of the blend at around 12 percent.
auction system A process by which tobacco is sold by an auctioneer on a bid basis to a group of buyers, as is the case in the United States , Zimbabwe , and Malawi . Today, tobaccos are sold at auction as well as by contract in these markets.
bale In the United States , this term refers to a cube of tobacco. Flue-cured tobacco bales weigh approximately 750 pounds each. There are two types of bales for U.S. burley tobacco: unitized bales, which weigh approximately 450 pounds, and farm bales, which weigh approximately 75 pounds. Tobacco is packaged in bales to facilitate storage and/or transport. Internationally, bales vary in size depending on the farming and sales systems.
binder The tobacco leaf that holds the filler together in a cigar and gives the cigar its shape. In some cases, the binder may be covered by another tobacco leaf called a top binder. The binder or top binder is then covered by the wrapper, resulting in a finished cigar.
blade On a tobacco plant, the extended part of the leaf that is divided from the base to the tip by the stem; its framework is provided by the veins that extend from the stem. This term is used to refer only to the blade itself—it does not include any portion of the stem. In contrast, the term whole leaf is used to refer to both the blade and stem of a leaf. Also known as the lamina or web.
blended cigarettes Most of the cigarettes smoked today are blended, which means they are made with a mixture of tobacco varieties. The main types are American-blend, Oriental-blend, German-blend, English-blend (or Virginia ), Maryland , and dark cigarettes.
blending Mixing different varieties and grades of tobacco in order to produce a predetermined, uniform blend that meets a customer's specifications of quality, flavor, and aroma. The tobaccos are blended according to specific formulas or recipes that dictate the percentage of each type and grade to be used.
blue mold A disease that can damage both tobacco seedlings and mature plants. It develops in humid conditions and is recognizable by the brown spots which appear on the leaves; these spots rapidly develop a bluish-grey coating, and the leaves eventually wither.
bright leaf 1) A group of tobacco varieties that are flue-cured or fire-cured, after which the leaves range from light yellow to dark orange in color. Bright leaf is used mainly in cigarettes. Also known as Virginia tobacco. 2) On a burley tobacco plant, the third grouping of leaves from the top.
broken leaf Unprocessed tobacco in which over 40 percent of the leaf has been lost because of excessive handling. Broken leaf is different from scrap, which is leaf that is broken into small pieces during the processing or manufacturing stages.
bulk barn A type of curing barn used to cure bulked tobacco. Because the leaves are in stacks, rather than hung individually from the rafters, a bulk barn must be sealed so that enough air will pass through the dense piles of tobacco.
burley tobacco A type of tobacco that is usually air-cured and light brown to deep reddish-brown in color, with an aroma similar to cocoa. There are two types of burley: Filler type is generally light in body and neutral in flavor, while flavor type is similar in weight to flue-cured tobacco and has a stronger flavor.
buyer Someone who purchases tobacco for a leaf merchant. Buyers purchase tobacco to fill specific customer orders and/or to have tobacco on hand for orders that have yet to be placed. Buyers must be able to determine if the quality and quantity of a tobacco purchase will meet the customer's requirements and acquire the tobacco at a price that will allow the leaf merchant to make a profit when selling the tobacco to its customer.
clean tobacco Tobacco that is relatively free of sand, soil, and non-tobacco related material. Tobacco leaves that grow on the upper portion of the stalk usually contain less sand and soil than those that grow on the lower portion of the stalk, closer to the ground
color The color of tobacco is a significant indicator of ripeness and overall quality. Monitoring color changes during ripening, curing, and fermentation plays a significant role in producing high-quality tobacco and tobacco products.
conditioning The process of adding moisture to tobacco so that it will be pliable enough to withstand handling, processing, and manufacturing without breaking into smaller pieces. Special care must be taken to avoid over-conditioning, as this lowers the quality of the tobacco.
corona A cigar that has a thick body, a spherical mouth end, and a straight-cut burning end. The name stems from the La Corona cigar factory in Havana , Cuba , which was the first to manufacture cigars with these characteristics.
crude tobacco 1) Tobacco that has not yet been re-dried or processed. 2) Tobacco that has not ripened and been properly cured, and consequently remains green in color even after processing has occurred. Sometimes referred to as green tobacco.
curing Immediately after harvesting, tobacco is cured to remove all of the natural sap from the leaves so that it can be further processed and/or manufactured. There are four primary methods of curing: air-curing, flue-curing, fire-curing, and sun-curing, but all curing focuses on regulating the rate at which moisture is removed from the tobacco.
dark air-cured tobacco A type of tobacco that is distinguished from other types primarily by the fermentation process it undergoes. It is the fermentation that gives dark air-cured tobacco its medium- to dark-brown color and distinct aroma. Dark air-cured tobacco is used in cigars, dark cigarettes, pipe mixtures, and chewing tobaccos. Light air-cured tobacco, in contrast, is not fermented at all.
dark cigarettes One of the main types of blended cigarettes, which are those made with a mixture of tobacco varieties. Dark cigarettes are made almost exclusively of dark air-cured tobacco, and are sometimes referred to as “black cigarettes.”
English-blend cigarettes One of the main types of blended cigarettes, which are those made with a mixture of tobacco varieties. English-blend cigarettes are made almost entirely of flue-cured tobacco. Also known as Virginia cigarettes.
fermentation There are primarily two types of fermentation, natural fermentation and forced fermentation, with the duration of the process ranging from two days to two months or more. Natural fermentation, sometimes known as aging, is a chemical reaction caused by moisture and warm temperatures; it occurs when tobacco is packaged in bales or hogsheads. Natural fermentation generally gives tobacco a more uniform color and a milder taste. Forced fermentation involves placing tobacco in huge stacks so that the chemical reaction caused by the moisture and warm temperatures is intensified by the pressure the tobacco is under. Forced fermentation generally gives tobacco a more uniform color, as well as a smoother aroma and taste.
filler 1) Tobacco that has been blended and cut and, consequently, is ready to be used in cigarettes. The tobacco may have also been cased and flavored, depending on the desired end-product. 2) A term that can refer to the innermost portion of a cigar or the tobacco from which it is made. There are two types of filler, long filler and short filler.
fire-curing One of four main methods of curing, which involves removing all of the natural sap and moisture from tobacco leaves. As its name suggests, this particular method of curing involves exposing tobacco to the heat and smoke of open fires; doing so allows the leaves to absorb the aromatic substances in the smoke, which will in turn affect the tobacco's taste. The type and age of the wood, as well as the duration of the tobacco's exposure to the smoke, all affect the tobacco's taste, which is why these factors vary depending on the end-product that is desired.
flue-cured tobacco A type of tobacco that is cured with artificial heat, after which it ranges from light yellow to dark orange in color and possesses a sweet aroma. It is sometimes referred to as bright leaf or Virginia tobacco.
Flue-Cured Tobacco Cooperative Stabilization Corporation Established in 1946, d uring the time of the Price Support System in the U.S. , this organization was designed to provide stability in price and supply for flue-cured tobacco farmers. Also known as Stabilization, the organization managed the price support program for flue-cured tobacco in the U.S. In the event that a farmer's tobacco crop did not sell at or above the support price at auction, Stabilization would purchase the farmer's crop as long as the farmer met the requirements established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Tobacco purchased by Stabilization was then processed, stored, and sold directly to manufacturers and leaf dealers around the world. Today the Stabilization has taken on a new role as leaf merchant and manufacturer.
flue-curing One of four main methods of curing, which involves removing all of the natural sap and moisture from tobacco leaves. This method of curing uses only artificial heat, such as that provided by oil or petroleum. Flue-curing barns are outfitted with pipes that supply the heat and fans that circulate the heat for even distribution.
frog-stripping A method of preparing cigar filler that involves removing the stem of a tobacco leaf in such a way that the two halves of the leaf remain joined at the top; this is said to resemble a frog's legs, hence the name. The resulting “frog-strips” are used as long filler in cigars.
German-blend cigarettes One of the main types of blended cigarettes, which are those made with a mixture of tobacco varieties. These are similar to American-blend cigarettes, but more oriental tobacco is used in the blend. Also, these cigarettes have a milder taste because the tobacco is not as heavily cased and flavored as in American-blend cigarettes.
grade A symbol, letter, number, or some combination of the three, that is given to tobacco as an indicator of its quality. The tobacco's stalk position, color, texture, elasticity, and leaf size are among the factors taken into account when determining its grade. B4F, which signifies “fair quality orange leaf,” is an example of a grade.
grading Assigning pre-defined symbols, letters, or numbers to tobacco as an indicator of its quality. The tobacco's stalk position, color, texture, elasticity, and leaf size are among the factors taken into account in the grading process. Most tobacco is graded before it is sold; the grade it receives determines (in part) the price a buyer will be willing to pay for the tobacco. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has 117 official tobacco grades. Manufacturers and leaf suppliers also have their own grades that are used internally.
grading school A class that teaches interested parties how to identify and classify various leaf types according to the USDA tobacco grading system. The class lasts approximately two weeks and is taught by a grader (someone who grades tobacco) from the USDA.
green tobacco 1) Tobacco that has not yet been re-dried or processed. 2) Tobacco that has not ripened and been properly cured, and consequently remains green in color even after processing has occurred. Sometimes referred to as crude tobacco.
harvesting The process of collecting tobacco leaves from the field at the time when leaf maturity has reached its desired stage; harvesting can be done by either manual or mechanical means. Flue-cured and oriental tobaccos are harvested in stages, meaning that individual leaves are removed from the stalk as they ripen, rather than all at once, a process called priming. (The leaves generally ripen from the ground up.) Harvesting burley tobacco can be done in stages or by cutting the entire stalk near the ground and removing all of the leaves at the same time; the process used is generally determined by the climate conditions of the growing region.
hogshead A round, wooden container used to hold tobacco while it is transported, stored, or aged. Cardboard boxes and tersa bales are other packaging containers that serve the same purpose as hogsheads.
import quota The specific amount of a product that can be imported into a country over a certain period of time. An import quota can be established by directive, legislation, or proclamation. In the past, the United States has established import quotas for tobacco.
Kentucky tobacco A type of fire-cured tobacco that was originally grown in the U.S. states of Kentucky or Tennessee, but is now grown in various other regions and countries as well. Kentucky tobacco is primarily used in chewing tobacco and pipe blends.
lamina On a tobacco plant, the extended part of the leaf that is divided from the base to the tip by the stem; its framework is provided by the veins that extend from the stem. This term is used to refer only to the leaf blade—it does not include any portion of the stem. In contrast, the term whole leaf is used to refer to both the blade and stem of a leaf. Also known as the blade or web.
leaf 1) The major component of the tobacco plant; its size, shape, and position on the stalk are indicators of quality. 2) On a flue-cured tobacco plant, the second grouping of leaves from the top. 3) In fire-cured and dark air-cured tobacco, a general term for all of the leaves located in the top third of the tobacco plant.
light air-cured tobacco Tobacco that is cured primarily with natural rather than artificial heat and is typically brown or light brown in color. In contrast to dark air-cured tobacco, which is fermented, light air-cured tobacco is not fermented at all. Also known simply as “air-cured tobacco.”
long filler Large pieces of leaf that are used in making the innermost portion of a cigar. Short filler is used in the same manner as long filler, but it is made up of relatively small pieces of leaf. Also known as “frog-strips.”
loose leaf auction A method of selling tobacco in which the tobacco is laid out in piles on the auction floor for inspection by potential buyers; it is popular because it eliminates the expensive and time-consuming task of bundling the tobacco or tying it in hands before it is sold.
lugs 1) On a flue-cured tobacco plant, the second grouping of leaves from the ground. 2) The largest leaves on a burley tobacco plant, located near the middle of the stalk. 3) The middle grouping of leaves on fire-cured and dark air-cured tobacco plants.
manufacturer In the tobacco industry, the term manufacturer refers to any company that purchases tobacco as a raw material and uses it to produce finished tobacco products, such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco, which are then sold and consumed.
Maryland cigarettes One of the main types of blended cigarettes, which are those made with a mixture of tobacco varieties. As their name suggests, Maryland cigarettes are made almost entirely of Maryland tobacco and are mild in taste.
Maryland tobacco Used primarily in American-blend and Maryland cigarettes, this type of tobacco is light air-cured and has a neutral taste. Although first grown in the U.S. state of Maryland , this type of tobacco is now grown in other regions of the U.S. and in various other countries.
midrib The smaller stem that extends from the main stalk of a tobacco plant and divides each leaf from its base to its tip. In larger tobacco leaves, the midrib must be removed during processing. Also known as the stem.
moisture content The amount of water within tobacco leaves. High moisture content gives the leaves elasticity, whereas low moisture content makes the leaves brittle. For this reason, the moisture content of tobacco is carefully controlled so that handling, storing, and manufacturing does not detract from the tobacco's quality or cause it to break into smaller, less desirable pieces. Moisture content is essential to the fermentation process.
non-tobacco-related material Any material other than tobacco that is inadvertently included with tobacco leaves, such as stones, glass, string, pieces of metal, etc. Removing non-tobacco related material during processing is called picking the tobacco.
offal The name given to the dust and minute tobacco pieces produced during processing; too small to be used in the manufacture of tobacco products, offal is disposed of along with non-tobacco-related material.
Old belt The name given to regions within the U.S. states of Virginia and northern North Carolina where tobacco is grown. Flue-cured, burley, and Virginia are the types of tobacco usually grown in the Old belt.
Oriental-blend cigarettes One of the main types of blended cigarettes, which are those made with a mixture of tobacco varieties. As their name suggests, Oriental-blend cigarettes are made almost exclusively of oriental tobacco.
oriental tobacco A type of tobacco characterized by its small leaves and strong aroma. The oriental tobacco plant produces a larger number of leaves than other tobacco types and is primarily grown in the Mediterranean countries of Turkey , Greece , Bulgaria , and the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia .
packaging The final stage in tobacco processing. Tobacco can be packaged in hogsheads, bales, tersa bales, or cardboard boxes; it is then either stored or transported to a manufacturer of tobacco products.
pad 1) A grouping of tobacco leaves (in green form) held together from natural compression due to handling or processing. 2) A portion of tobacco that has been prepared for use in making cigars by hand. The tobacco in a pad has been stemmed and will be used either as binders or wrappers. Also known as a book.
picking Removing non-tobacco-related material and undesirable leaves from tobacco during processing. Picking can be done when the leaves are still whole or after they have been threshed (cut into strips); it can be done pneumatically or by hand.
pile As its name suggests, this term refers to a pile of loose tobacco leaves; no sorting or bundling of the leaves has occurred. The term pile is most often used in the context of the auction system, which involves placing piles of tobacco on the auction floor to be inspected by potential buyers.
price support program During the time of the Price Support System in the United States , the total amount of tobacco that could be grown and the minimum price for each pound of tobacco sold were determined on an annual basis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and referred to as the price support program or the federal tobacco program. In simple terms, the program ensured farmers a minimum price for each grade of tobacco grown while the farmers agreed to keep tobacco production in line with demand. In this way, the program was able to provide stability in price for domestic tobacco farmers and stability in supply for the world manufacturers that purchased the tobacco.
priming A method of harvesting that involves removing individual leaves from the tobacco stalk as they ripen rather than removing all of the leaves at once. Priming is generally associated with flue-cured and oriental tobacco.
primings A subdivision of the lugs on the U.S. flue-cured tobacco plant, primings are the leaves located closest to the ground. Because of their proximity to the ground, these leaves often come in contact with sand and soil and, consequently, must be cleaned before they can be processed. Also known as sand leaves.
processing A general term for all of the processes applied to tobacco after it has been cured and before it is used in the manufacture of tobacco products. Processing involves various stages, including blending, threshing, re-drying, and packaging.
quota During the time of the Price Support Program in the United States , the “quota” was the number of pounds of tobacco that could be grown by a tobacco farmer in any given year. The USDA determined a national limit on the amount of tobacco that could be grown each year. First, a figure called the basic quota was calculated based on the following factors: 1) the purchase plans of manufacturers; 2) average annual exports for the three previous years; and 3) the amount of tobacco needed to meet a specified reserve stock level. The USDA then adjusted the basic quota to account for the amount of tobacco that was over- or under-produced from the previous year's quota; this final figure was called the effective quota. Once the effective quota was determined for the nation, it was divided among all U.S. tobacco growers into individual quotas. The term quota is sometimes used interchangeably with the term allotment.
reconstituted tobacco Paper-like sheets of tobacco comprised mainly of scrap and stems. Reconstituted tobacco is produced by a variety of methods, all of which have a single purpose: to allow cigarette manufacturers to make the most efficient use of their tobacco by utilizing scrap and stems instead of discarding them. The paper-like sheets of reconstituted tobacco are then cut into strips and used in cigarettes.
re-drying One of the stages in tobacco processing, the purpose of which is to obtain a uniform moisture content specified by the customer. Re-drying involves removing moisture from the tobacco leaves by applying heat and then injecting the leaves with steam until a pre-determined moisture level is obtained.
re-grading Prior to being purchased, tobacco is given a grade that serves as an indicator of its quality. Once purchased, the tobacco is sent to a processing facility where it is graded again, a process known as re-grading. The purpose of re-grading is to maintain consistency and ensure that the quality is uniform throughout, especially with respect to customer blends.
run of the crop A processing phrase used to describe a blend of tobacco that includes leaves from all of the different stalk positions on a tobacco plant. Because the quality of a leaf is partially determined by its position on the stalk, a run of the crop blend contains a mixture of various qualities. Creating a run of the crop blend is expeditious and lowers processing costs, thereby making the blend cheaper for customers.
sample A small quantity of tobacco (around two kilos) typically pulled from the process after the re-drying operation and compressed into a block measuring approximately 13 inches wide by 17 inches long by 4 inches thick. The purpose of a sample is to provide a representation of the overall quality and color of the tobacco being processed and to ensure consistency and uniformity within the blend.
sample room A room or location where interested parties, such as sales personnel, buyers, and customers can inspect samples of tobacco. Hand-rolled cigarettes are often prepared and smoked in the sample room to determine the taste and burning quality of a specific tobacco sample.
sand leaves A subdivision of the lugs on a flue-cured tobacco plant, sand leaves are the leaves located closest to the ground. Because of their proximity to the ground, these leaves often come in contact with sand and soil (hence the name) and must be cleaned before they can be processed. Also known as primings.
scrap A category in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's grading system denoting tobacco that has been broken into small pieces; scrap does not include any portion of the tobacco stems. Scrap results from handling tobacco during processing or manufacturing, whereas broken leaf results from handling that occurs prior to processing.
seconds 1) On a burley tobacco plant, the second grouping of leaves from the ground. Seconds are often thin and/or damaged due to their proximity to the ground. 2) Low-quality cigar tobacco, reserved for use in less-expensive cigars. 3) Tobacco leaves harvested from a second crop.
short filler Relatively small pieces of leaf that are used in making the innermost portion of a cigar. Long filler is used in the same manner as short filler, but it is made up of large pieces of leaf.
stem A side shoot that extends from the tobacco plant's primary stalk and divides each leaf from its base to its tip. In larger tobacco leaves, the stem must be removed prior to processing. Also known as the midrib.
straight-laid A term for tobacco that has been packed in rows with all of the stems facing the same direction. The term tangled, in contrast, is used to describe leaves that have been randomly layered in a bale or package.
stringing The process of threading tobacco leaves onto a string or piece of twine so that the leaves can be hung up for curing. Using a needle, the stem is pierced near the base of the leaf and the string is then pulled through the hole. The spacing of the leaves on the string varies according to the type of tobacco and curing process. For the most part, stringing is done by hand.
stripping 1) The process of removing stems from tobacco leaves; it can be done by hand, as it is for cigar wrappers, or by machine, as it is for cigarette tobaccos. Also known as stemming. 2) The process of removing tobacco leaves from the stalk; primarily associated with burley tobacco.
suckering Removing suckers from a tobacco plant; this can be done by hand during harvesting or, at an earlier stage, by cutting the suckers or spraying the plant with a chemical that inhibits the growth of suckers.
suckers Side shoots that grow after the flowering head of a tobacco plant has been removed. Because suckers rely on the main plant for water and minerals, their growth can lower the quality of the main leaves. Suckers are removed when the quality of the plant justifies the labor and expense needed for their removal. They can be removed by hand or with the use of chemicals.
sun-curing One of four main methods of curing, which involves removing all of the natural sap and moisture from tobacco leaves. This method of curing involves exposing tobacco leaves to full sunlight, thereby drying the leaves completely. All oriental tobacco and certain types of Virginia tobacco are sun-cured.
tangled A term for loose tobacco leaves that have been randomly layered to form a bale or package. Straight-laid leaves, in contrast, are packed in rows with all of the stems facing the same direction.
tariff-rate quota A specific type of import quota that allows a certain quantity of imports at a low tariff rate and subjects imports above that quantity to a very high tariff rate. In the past, imports of leaf tobacco into the United States have been subject to tariff-rate quotas.
tersa bale A large cube of packaged tobacco; the head and base are wooden and the sides of the cube are wrapped with a clear plastic material. Other containers used to package tobacco include wooden hogsheads and cardboard boxes. The word tersa is an acronym for Tabaco en Rama S.A. , the Mexican company that first developed this type of packaged bale.
threshing A stage in tobacco processing that involves cutting the blade of the leaf away from the stem with a machine called a thresher, resulting in fairly small pieces of leaf blade suitable for use in cigarettes. The threshing process is a key operation in achieving particle size distribution of re-dried tobacco.
tips 1) The uppermost leaves on a flue-cured tobacco plant. 2) The uppermost leaves on a burley tobacco plant. 3) The pointed ends of tobacco leaves (located farthest from the stalk), which are often removed during processing.
topping The process of removing the flowering blooms that develop at the top of a tobacco stalk; part of the stalk and some of the topmost leaves may also be removed in the process. Topping can be done at various stages in the plant's development, but when done early and extensively the tobacco leaves will grow larger and heavier.
trashes 1) On a burley tobacco plant, the second grouping of leaves from the ground. 2) On fire-cured and dark air-cured tobacco plants, the grouping of leaves closest to the ground; they are usually thin, low-quality leaves.
USDA Acronym for the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA currently determines the total amount of tobacco that can be grown and the minimum price per grade for each pound of tobacco sold in the U.S. in any given year through its price support program.
variegated A term that applies to any tobacco in which the color is not uniform after curing. Variegated leaves remain green, yellow, or bleached in some places, while the rest of the leaf has the normal coloring of its type.
Virginia cigarettes One of the main types of blended cigarettes, which are those made with a mixture of tobacco varieties. Virginia cigarettes are made almost entirely of flue-cured tobacco. Also known as English cigarettes.
Virginia tobacco Air-, fire-, or flue-cured tobacco that was originally grown in the U.S. state of Virginia but is now grown around the world. Depending on how it is cured, Virginia tobacco is used in cigarettes, pipe mixtures, and chewing tobacco. Also known as bright leaf.
web On a tobacco plant, the extended part of the leaf that is divided from the base to the tip by the stem; its framework is provided by the veins that extend from the stem. This term is used to refer only to the leaf blade—it does not include any portion of the stem. In contrast, the term whole leaf is used to refer to both the blade and stem of a leaf. Also known as the lamina or blade.
whole leaf This term refers to a tobacco leaf in its entirety, including both the blade and stem of the leaf. In contrast, the terms blade, lamina, and web refer only to the blade of the leaf and do not include the stem.
wrapper A tobacco leaf used as the outermost covering of a cigar; it surrounds the binder or top binder. Relatively few tobacco leaves can be used as wrappers because they must meet several requirements for quality; for example, their appearance must be nearly flawless and uniform in color.