1. How to Select Tobacco Seeds and Prepare the Soil for Proper Germination

Tobacco is a relatively easy plant to grow and can be grown as far north as Canada and Alaska with the proper planning and preparation.

Selecting Tobacco Varieties: A germination test should be conducted with 100 seeds in petri dish to observe the % of germination.

Following are few best Tobacco varieties to select for tobacco production:
• Connecticut Shade Leaf
• Connecticut Broadleaf
• Havana
• Tennessee Dark Air Cured
• Florida Sumatra
• Cuban Criollo
• Habano 2000
• Virginia Red

Habano 2000 is the best tobacco to grow for cigarettes!

Tobacco Seed Sowing in the Tray for Seedling production

Tobacco seeds are very small in size (Fig. 1) that is hardly bigger than a pin prick and so seeds should not be sown so thickly. The seeds require warm temperatures for germination of about 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Seed should be placed in seedbed 4-6 weeks before last frost date. Tobacco seed should be sprinkled onto the surface of a sterile seed starting mix and irrigation water should be given lightly.

Seeds should not be covered with any thick soil cover because light is essential for easy germination of seeds and if covered too deeply, seeds won’t germinate at all, and irrigation will be given as per requirement.

In most of the cases tobacco seeds germinate in about 7-10 days with few specialties on varieties that may take a few days longer to begin germination (Fig. 2).

In case any difficulty, seeds take up to 2 weeks to germinate for some special varieties.

Raising Seedlings in Seedbed outdoors

First of all seedbeds are prepared for raising seedlings and then transfer the seedlings to the main field for the production of tobacco plants.

A good tilth of soil condition is necessary for proper germination and also of the land where seedlings will be shifted for germination.

The quality of the seedlings has a great influence upon the production and yields of tobacco.

For this reasons an appropriate land selection is urgently necessary based on the following points:

  1. Comparatively upland and sandy loan soil type
  2. Well aerated plot with plenty of sunlight and air flow.
  3. Have adequate irrigation facilities.
  4. Surrounding fields don’t have the cultivation of crop of solanaceace family, e.g, tomato, potato and eggplant etc.

Seed Sowing in the Seedbed

Tobacco seeds are very minute in size such that 10-12 thousands seeds measure 1 gram. That is why it is convenient to mix with seeds 10-15 times ashes or fine sands before sowing of the seeds.

After sowing seeds on seedbed (20mx1.5m), the soil should be incorporated with finger gently so that the seeds can be mixed with the soil as well, then by pressing the upper soil with thumps it allows the seeds remain stacked in the soil.

A mulch of rice straw or something like dried grass or stables can be used as mulch that protect seeds in case there’s any chance of rain or soil erosion.

After germination of seeds a precaution should be taken to construct a temporary shed about 20-30 cm high on the seedbed in order to avoid the damage by any sudden rainfall or protect the excess of sun heat if any.

This shed should not be used all the times because, lack of sunlight may hamper the normal growth of the seedlings; as a result, and seedlings develop slender in structure and weak in health.

Excess of wetness in the soil may help develop disease like damping off, Root Rot and Stem and Crown Rot etc.

Fig.3.-Outdoor raised Seed bed for multi-purpose use.
Fig.3.-Outdoor raised Seed-bed for multi-purpose use.

Seed bed should be kept always clean and weed free, soil should be incorporated so it looks loose and well aerated, should never be too wet and dump.

If there are excess of seedlings population, few should be transferred to other seed beds or weak and deceased seedlings should be removed.

Damping off disease is most common in seed bed on the tobacco seedlings, so a prevention measure should be taken by treating with Dithenem-45 or Copper oxychloride.

In case of dryness or shortage of moisture level in the soil, a substantial irrigation should be applied

Some basic environmental requirements for the cultivation of tobacco

  1. Land and soil types:
    Tobacco needs a well drained soil type and topography should be preferably upland soil, so the water stagnation can be avoided during the whole growing period and harvesting. The soil texture should be sandy loan for best result. In the seed bed and the final growing plot layout should be in such a manner that it does not allow stagnation of water within the plot because the seedlings may die due to lack of easy movement of oxygen around the root Rhyzophere.
    The tobacco root system is of shallow type, so, deep planting should be avoided. However, underground water table should remain 1 meter down the soil. Best leaf structure is supposed to be produced if the soil texture is of alluvial sandy loam type. The soil containing higher percentage of Nitrogen is not suitable for Tobacco because it creates leaf structure to be heavy or coarse and percent content of nicotine becomes higher. Yields and quality of tobacco production is greatly influenced by the characteristics of soil. The most suitable range of soil pH should be in between 6 to 7. There’s a chance of deficiency of magnesium and calcium in case if pH of soil increases upper than 7.
  2. Climate
    Although tobacco originated in Sub-tropical countries it grows well in countries starting from the Northern hemisphere of Sweden to the South of Australia in Tropical, Sub-tropical and countries.
  3. Light and Temperature
    The minimum temperature required for germination of seeds is 20-21 degree Centigrade. However, 27-32 degree Centigrade is the best range for easy germination. Higher range of temperature is good enough though for growth a range in between 21- 24 degree Centigrade is most favorable for best quality of tobacco.
  4. Rainfall
    Annual rainfall of 1000-1100 mm is suitable for growing tobacco, but 500 mm rainfall could be the best for excellent result. Annual rainfall below 25 mm is subject to apply irrigation for growing tobacco. Deficiency of soil moisture and the potassium content in the leaves may result in shortage of carbohydrate assimilation; as a result burning characteristics of the leaves may be deteriorated. Besides, if there’s a plenty of rainfall, diseases and insect pests may break out to hamper the expected yield and the quality of the leaves. During the period of maturation low humidity in the atmosphere enhances the leaves quality. During the period of maturation of leaves, rainfall can cause starting of new flushes, as a result, stickiness of leaves may loss its characteristic flavors and dryness that hampers the methods of tobacco process after harvesting.