Robaina's plantation

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Semillero Tecnificado "El Guanito" (Tobacco Nursery) El Corojo Pinar del Rio

                  I have never professed to know everything about cigars or the process involved in their production. Many of the things that I have written about, I either wasn't sure about or in some cases knew nothing about, prior to researching for the Blog Post. As in this case....Did you know there was such a thing as a Tobacco Nursery? Did you know the names of any other areas in Pinar del Rio where tobacco is grown other than San Luis or San Juan y Martínez....or where they are? Probably, like myself, if you've gone to Pinar del Rio to visit the Tobacco Growers (Robaina or Hector Luis....), you never really gave much thought to the land beyond these boundaries. I always knew something else was out there and have had the intention to see what but have never had enough time to do so until this visit a little while ago. I had my facilitator set up some appointments for me....and so we went to the 'El Corojo' area of Pinar del Rio, just a couple of kilometers from the town of San Luis.
                  It doesn't look any different than the San Luis or San Juan y Martínez areas of Pinar del Rio. The landscape is dotted with Curing Barns sprinkled over miles and miles of Tobacco fields, maybe a little more so than the other areas, more concentration of tobacco land versus anything else. There was no tobacco in the ground as of yet, this was early November, and if it was in the ground it had just been planted and difficult to distinguish in a moving car. Most of the roads are paved and in pretty good condition but there's hardly any traffic except for the odd tractor or bicycle.
                   The people around these parts are very genuine and curious, they hardly ever see a tourist come around to visit them. Jesus, our first appointment, confirms that hardly any tourists come around El Corojo, I was the second he's met. Jesus is in charge of the Semillero (Tobacco Nursery) which I had no idea existed. I wasn't wrong in thinking that tobacco growers produce their own seed and grow their crop from seedlings in special beds to be transplanted when it's time. The growers I know did it this way but not everyone did....that is what I was to discover. Here at the nursery they grow a particular type of leaf that is collected by the tobacco growers themselves and charged by the bunch. They will take these plants, that are a few inches in height, back to their farms and plant them immediately. While I was there the place was buzzing with activity, it was time to plant. The weather had been cooperating and the farmers had to take advantage and transplant the years crop. Jesus explained that everything here was done organically, that is to say, no pesticides and limited fertilizer. As far as warding off potentially damaging insects, special plants are grown around the property which are unappealing to these insects and keep them at bay. It's simplistic but also necessary, they have no other choice but to make due with little. The seeds are planted in the special beds and covered with straw for protection. Once the seeds sprout and the plant reaches a certain height, the straw covering is removed. It's not complicated at first sight but there's a lot that can happen during the month or so that the Nursery is in operation, most of which to do with weather.
                  It's been some time since I lasted visited Jesus, it's about time I go back. Maybe I'll bring a group of friends this upcoming November. I wish I could give you better directions but this place doesn't come up anywhere on the internet. As you enter San Luis, the first road on the right will take you through El Corojo. I was able to scan my map and post it below. It's taken from the "Highway Guide of Cuba" that I purchased in Cuba, it has helped me tremendously through the years. I hope you enjoy the Pics.

Plants grown around property to repel damaging insects

Type of Tobacco Plant & Date Planted

charged $$ by the bunch

Straw covers newly planted seeds

The Birth of a Tobacco Plant

Jesus and I

Jesus at home

map of area