Developing tobacco seeds is a complex and lengthy process
Developing tobacco seeds is a complex and lengthy process, and our Tobacco Plant Breeders will spend up to ten years developing a new tobacco seed variety before it is released to our farmers for production. Our Tobacco Plant Breeders use a germoplasm bank of tobacco seed which has been collected from around the world as a palette to develop seeds with the desired properties for our tobacco products.
During the development period the taste and quality of the new varieties will be assessed, along with the optimal locations, soils, climates and altitudes for the new varieties.
Once a tobacco seed has been developed, billions of these seeds are carefully prepared for and distributed to our farmers. The seeds are colour coded into four types of tobacco – Flue Cured Virginia, Burley, Dark Air Cured and Oriental.
The first 60 days in the life of the tiny seed are critical to ensuring the growth of a viable tobacco plant.
The tobacco seeds spend their first 60 days in seedbeds. The seeds are so tiny that they need to be carefully planted in nutritious soil to ensure optimal development. Our agronomists assist the farmers to ensure that the seedbeds are located in a sheltered area with access to essential components like water and sunshine.
After this seedling journey is concluded, farmers prepare the future plants for field growing which is essential for tobacco development.
The field selection is completed by our farmers with the technical advice of our agronomists. Our agronomists also help the farmers ensure the fields have been carefully rotated with other crops so the right nutrients are locked into the soil. The field is prepared to allow the seedlings to be transplanted with the right amount of space they need to thrive. With the stage now properly set, the tobacco seed begins its most important journey, under the supervision of our farmers. Over 60 days, the tiny tobacco seedling develops into a thriving plant, boasting some 14 to 22 leaves.