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Crop Cultivation Guidence : Tobacco Cultivation


The genus Nicotiana has more than 60 species, of which two are commercially cultivated for the production of tobacco. They are N.tabacum and N.rustica. Almost all states in India grow tobacco, but the important ones are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bihar, West Bengal, and Uttar PradeshThe species N. tabacum is grown in almost all the states, whereas the cultivation of N.rustica is confined to the northern and north eastern states, where the temperature are considerably lower during the season. India produces a wide range of commercial types of tobacco.

Climate and soils:

For tobacco 50-100cm annual rainfall and 15-20o C temperature during growth period is ideal. Tobacco cannot stand if rainfall is more than 100cm. After harvesting to dry the leaves it requires bright sunshine & dry weather but not less than containing 8% moisture. Too dry weather is not suitable as leaves break into small pieces.
Different types of soil are required for tobacco. Bidi tobacco is grown as a rainfed crop mostly in alluvial soils, black clayey or loamy soils. Cigar and cheroot tobaccos are cultivated on grey to red soils varying from light gravelly to sandy loams. The chewing tobacco is grown throughout the country under varying conditions of soils. For quality cigar soil should be mixed with sand. Soil should be well drained.


Flue-Cured:- Harrison special, Chatham, Delcrest, Virginia gold, Kanakaprabha, Whit gold, Dhanadayi
Bidi: -Keliu-49, Keliu-20, Surati-20, Anand-2, Anand-3, Anand-23, Anand-119, Kunkumathiri
Natu: -D.G.3, D.G.4, D.R.1
Cigar filler: -OL-10, VV-2, KV-1, I-462
Cherrot: - OK-1, 1-737
Chewing: -I-64, PV-7, WR-2, I-115, VTK-1, VD-1, S-1, P-4, S-57, Anand-145
Hookah and chewing: -N.P.70, N.P.35, D.P.401, D.D.413, N.P.18, N.P.20
Wrapper: -Dixie shade
Burley: -Ky-16, Ky-58

Cultivation :

6-10 ploughing are given by way of preparatory cultivation. Digging with a spade, followed by ploughing with a mould board plough and a country plough and then a harrowing is recommend. Farmyard manure is usually applied and the dose varies from 10-125 cartloads per hectare for different types of tobacco. Application of phosphorus and potash was found beneficial for some tobaccos.
The distance between the rows and between the plants within a row varies with the type of tobacco. a spacing of 80cm x 80cm for natu and the flue cured. Virginia tobacco in black soils and 100cm x60cm for the flue-cured.

Nurseries :

The nurseries for producing seedlings are located on sandy or sandy loams. Rabbing the nursery area is practised in some places. Manuring and cultural practices vary greatly in different tobacco growing areas.

The seed is sown on raised or flat well-prepared seedbeds with intervening channels. A seed rate of 3-5kg per hectare has been found to be the optimum for all types of tobacco. The nursery sowing is varies from state to state and types of tobaccos is given as:-
- For the flue cured, Virginia and natu tobacco in Andhra Pradesh are sown in August-September and in Karnataka in April-May.
- For the bidi tobacco in Gujarat and Karnataka, the nurseries are sown in June-July for the cigar, cheroot and chewing tobaccos in Tamil Nadu in August-September.
- For the hookah and chewing tobaccos in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal in August-October.

To protect the tender seedlings from desiccation on a sunny day and from washing off during heavy rains, different covers or mulches were found useful in different areas. Suitable control measures are to be adopted rigorously to keep the nurseries healthy. Top dressing of nitrogen is to be given, as and when required, from the third week onwards to boost the growth of the seedlings. Normally, the seedlings will be ready for transplanting in 6-8 weeks. Water should be reduced a week before removing the seedlings in order to harden them.


Fertilizer dose is varying in different tobacco growing areas. A general dose of for tobacco is 25 tonnes of farmyard manure or filter press cake as a layer; 100kg phosphorus as a basal dressing and 100kg of nitrogen as top-dressing in installments per hectare should be applied.

Irrigation :

Virginia tobacco on black soils is not normally irrigated, but the crop on light soils is given up to six irrigations. The irrigation water should not contain more than 50pm of chlorides, as otherwise the leaves get burnt and other qualities suffer. In black soils also, in adverse conditions, one irrigation on 40 day old plants is recommended

Intercultural operations

When after the plants get established i.e. about 20 days after planting, the tobacco fields are given frequent intercultring and weeding to conserve the soil moisture and check the growth of weeds. Mulching the crop with paddy straw at 3600 kg per hectare after the first interculture is beneficial in the case of the flue-cured virginia tobacco on black soils in increasing the yields and improving the quality by conserving soil moisture.

Topping is the removal of the flower head alone or along with some of the top leaves of the plant. Most of the types of tobacco are topped and suckered for improving the size, body and quality of the leaves. The level of topping varies from type to type and ranges from high topping to the very low topping. In the case of the flue-cured virginia tobacco only the flowerhead is removed, leaving all the 20-24 leaves intact while in case of chewing tobacco only 7-8 leaves are retained on the plant.

Plant protection :

Tobacco leaf-eating caterpillar
The caterpillars, when young, feed gregariously on tender leaves and juicy stems. It becomes isolated at the later stages of growth.
Collection and destruction of egg masses and caterpillars and thorough ploughing after the harvest of the crop. At the early stage of infestation dusting with 10% Carbaryl at 20-25 kg/ha controls the pest satisfactory.

Stem borers
The caterpillars bore into stems and caused characteristics gall-like swellings on them.
Preventive measures include the removal and destruction of the affected stems during the growth of the crop also after harvesting the crop-stray and wild tobacco plants should be destroyed.  Care should be taken to plant healthy seedlings from the seedbed if infestation is noticed at the seeding stage.

By constant feeding on sap, the leaves look sickly and become unfit for curing. They excrete out honeydew while feeding on plant sap, where the sooty mould (fungus) also develops.The quality of such leaves thus deteriorated. The Rosettee disease of tobacco is know to be transmitted by these aphids.
Spraying with 0.02% phosphamidon, parathion, methyl demeton, thiometon or menazen effective for controlling the pest.

Harvesting and Storage :

The leaves are considered ready for harvesting when the normal green colour changes to yellowish green or to light yellow. The harvesting time of different types of tobacco is different as below: -
The flue-cured Virginia tobacco is harvested during December-March in Andhra Pradesh and during July-September in Karnataka.
The bidi tobacco is harvested in January-February.
The cigar and cheroot tobaccos are harvested 90-100 days after planting when the leaves pucker and become brittle and yellowish green.
The chewing tobacco is harvested 110-120 days after planting when the leaves develop pronounced puckering
The hookah tobacco (rustica) is harvested in May or June, and the tabacum harvested when broad flecks appear on the leaves.
The whole plants are harvested in the case of the bidi, cigar and cheroot, chewing and hookah tobaccos. The average yield of tobacco leaf per hectare is about 750kg and 950kg for the flue cured Virginia and the natu tobacco. 1,000 kg, 450kg and 350kg for the bidi tobacco. 1,250 kg and 1,600 kg for the cigar and cheroot and chewing tobaccos. 950kg, 850kg and 800 kg for the hookah and chewing tobaccos