Tobacco pests are a thing. And they’re not only a major pain that can wreak havoc on your cigar smoking enjoyment…but they can also severely impact tobacco manufacturers. In the past, we’ve covered different tobacco pests like tobacco beetles and mold in your humidor. But one of the most infamous pests in recent times is blue mold, officially called Peronospora hyoscyami. How serious is it? Consider this: An outbreak that occurred in Cuba in 1979 resulted in half the crop being destroyed for that year, followed by 90 percent of the crop in 1980. This also made its way into the United States and caused almost a quarter of a billion dollars in damage.
As you can see in the video, blue mold isn’t actually blue in color. It gets its name because the veins of damaged plants turn blue after suffering severe damage. This was a huge problem for growers of the famous Corojo wrapper, which was discovered to be highly susceptible to blue mold. While some outbreaks can be mild and only affect a few leaves of a plant, other outbreaks have wiped out entire crops. Even if blue mold is discovered early enough before damaging the entire leaf, it is no longer used to make cigars and is instead discarded.
Because of blue mold, Corojo, which originated in Cuba and helped put Cuban cigar makers on the map, no longer grows its famous cigar wrapper in Cuba. Instead, original Corojo is now only grown in Honduras—with the Eiroa family claiming they’re the only manufacturer still growing it. How they’ve managed to successfully keep their Corojo safe from the effects of blue mold is not known, and is a tightly guarded family secret.
That said, others have been working for years to figure out a way to get around or control blue mold In fact, over the years different hybrid varietals such as Corojo 97 and Corojo 99 have been created by agronomists to be resistant to blue mold. The plants of these different varietals have been bred to encourage the plant’s defense mechanisms to control outbreaks and prevent entire crop loss.
All forms of tobacco pests are a headache, but some are significantly worse than others. Blue mold poses a serious risk to the entire cigar industry at the manufacturing level. With tight margins and entire communities depending on tobacco growers and manufacturers, a crop loss can have a dramatic economic impact. Governments, tobacco growers, and universities are continuously researching new techniques and growing new varietals to be resistant to pests and prevent major crop loss.