Crossbreeding Different Types of Tobacco

Nate Simonds

Tobacco is grown around the world for use in premium cigars. Tobacco originated in Central Mexico, but because of its popularity it has expanded around the world.  While some companies have chosen to stick with famous varietals of tobacco (such as Corojo), others have experimented with creating new varietals of tobaccos for consumers to enjoy. To create new varieties of tobacco with desirable traits like disease resistance, high yield, and good flavor, breeders use a process called crossbreeding.

One example of varietal of tobacco that was created this way is Criollo 98. Criollo 98 was developed in Cuba in the late 1990s to help fight against the Blue Mold Epidemic. It is a hybrid of the original Criollo tobacco plant, which has been used for many years in the production of cigars, and a tobacco plant from Indonesia. Criollo 98 was developed to address concerns about disease resistance and yield, while still maintaining the desirable flavor characteristics of traditional Criollo tobacco. It is now widely used in the production of cigars in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Honduras.

Crossbreeding involves mating two different tobacco plants with desirable traits to create a new variety with a combination of those traits. This process requires careful selection of parent plants, isolation, pollination, seed production, and evaluation. It is a time consuming process that requires patience and lots of trial and error.

The first step in tobacco crossbreeding is to select parent plants with desirable traits. For example, a breeder might select a plant with high yield and another with good flavor. These plants are then isolated from other tobacco plants to prevent accidental cross-pollination. This ensures that you are breeding the plants you want to breed.  

Once the parent plants have been isolated, the male flowers of one parent plant are removed before they open. This is to ensure that only the pollen from the other parent plant is used for pollination. The male flowers of the other parent plant are then collected and used to pollinate the female flowers of the first parent plant. After pollination, the female flowers will develop into seed pods. The seeds from the pods are collected and planted in a separate location for further evaluation.

The new variety of tobacco created by crossbreeding is then evaluated for desirable traits, such as disease resistance, high yield, and good flavor. If the new variety has the desired traits, it may be released for commercial use. This evaluation takes several generations and years of hard work. Davidoff, for example has created hundreds of different varietals of tobacco for use in their cigars. Even if the tobaccos are not being grown, tobacco farmers keep seeds in storage for future use.

Crossbreeding is an important tool in tobacco breeding to develop new varieties with improved traits. It allows for evolution of the industry allowing new tastes to be created. Crossbreeding also helps protect brands and farmers from losses due to drought or pests. Through the process of crossbreeding, tobacco breeders can continue to create new varieties of tobacco that meet the changing needs of the tobacco industry as well as the evolving palates of consumers.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.