Robaina's plantation

Thursday 23 March 2017

Salvador Carbajal Rodriguez (Tobacco Farm) Pinar del Rio (March 2017)

                    As I always do when I travel to Cuba, I went to visit my friend Salvador who owns a Tobacco Farm in Pinar del Rio. I was extra excited this time because a friend of mine who visited a couple of weeks earlier had told me the plants were quite tall, meaning it was close to harvest time. I was so lucky, nine barns had already been filled but the last two were still empty....or almost. These last two barns would be filled with mostly wrapper leaf, which was the last to be harvested, they were beginning that day....Wowwwwww. This year's crop was amazing, a bumper crop, some farms had 3 plantings, many had 2, but Salvador and other prominent growers were happy with the one good one. They were even able to grow some medio tiempo this year. I know nothing about farming but how good could the 3 plantings be. This was the first time in my life, in the 14 years traveling to Cuba, that I've witnessed this part of the process. I've seen tobacco in the barns many times when I've traveled in April or May but I've never seen them string up the leaves. I've seen plants in the ground almost every year when I travel in November but they would have just been planted and usually look like pitiful rows of seedlings struggling to survive. The only time the plants have been over my head was on my first visit to the Robaina farm in 2005....but I've never seen a harvest. What a wonderful experience.
                      Salvador seemed very relaxed for a change while mingling with the workers & paying certain people for their services, he was actually happy to do it. If he's paying them it means there's production going on. He's near the end of a long road that started back in late November. He would have planted in stages as he's now picking in stages, it would take the seedling 45 days after being transplanted to reach maturity. They were even able to get some medio tiempo this year. They will pick the bottom 3 leaves of the plant per day, the plants have about 21-23 leaves each. While spending time with me he often went off to delegate or supervise, this is his busiest few weeks of the year, not just for him but for everyone who lives here in this part of Pinar del Rio. His Rachon is ready to receive guests as he's now part of the 'Tobacco Route' as designated by the government. Pay him a visit, the kitchen is operating and he's open for business. They're a wonderful bunch of people and would be very happy to receive you...tell them I say hello.

PS......I never understood why they wrap themselves up as you see in the photographs (it's certainly not cold), some even wear gloves. Now I know. As I made my way through a thicker part of the field, moving the plants to the side, my hands became sticky from the resin coming off the leaf. I imagine they cover their heads so not to get it on their hair. It doesn't wash off that easy, even with soap.


Shade Grown Tobacco for Wrapper Leaf

1 comment:

  1. WOW...... Great pics as usual, +Matteo Esperanza 😎👍