As we all know today, the main ingredient of cigars and cigarettes around the world is Tobacco. That is why we want to present to you a bit deeper about Nicotiana Tabacum. The common name of the plant Nicotiana Tabacum is Tobacco, that sounds more familiar to our ears, right?
There are many varieties of Nicotiana Genus; nicotiana (n) acuminata, (n) africana, (n) alata, (n) glauca, (n) obtusifolia, (n) rustica, (n) tabacum and so on. This article deals with the most famous one and that in Nicotiana Tabacum. Many people agree that reasons behind its fame are because it is easier to grow and also has a much broader leaves, so it will produce more cigar or cigarette, agree?
The cultivated tobacco plant normally grows to one or two feet high. The five flower petals are contained within a Corolla and can be colored white, yellow, pink, or red. The tobacco fruit measures at 1.5 – 2 mm, and consists of a capsule containing two seeds. For tobacco plant, however, it is the leaves that are the most economically important. The leaf blades are enormous, often growing to 20 inches long and 10 inches wide.
The leaf shape can be ovate (egg-shaped), obcordate (heart-shaped) or elliptic (oval, but with a small point at one end). The leaves grow toward the base of the plant, and can be lobed or unlobed but are not separated into leaflets. On the stem, the leaves appear alternately, with one leaf per node along the stem. The leaves possess a distinct petiole (the stalk that attaches the leaf blade to the stem) and the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy.
Why are the tobacco leaves important? The leaves are the plant part containing the nicotine. However, the nicotine is manufactured in the plant roots, not the leaves! The nicotine is transported to the leaves via the xylem. Some species of Nicotiana are very high in nicotine content; Nicotiana rustica leaves, for example, can contain up to 18% nicotine.
Now, we are going to know more about growing tobacco plants.
Tobacco, a plant that is cultivated as an annual but is actually a perennial, is propagated by seed. The seeds are sown in beds; one ounce of seed in 100 square yards of soil can produce up to four acres of flue-cured tobacco, or up to three acres of burley tobacco.
The plants are topped before the seed head develops, except for those plants that are used to produce next year’s seed. The reason the plant tops are removed when flowering begins is so all the plant’s energy goes to increase the size and the thickness of the leaves.
The prime requisite for successful tobacco culture is a supply of well-developed healthy seedlings that is available at the proper time for transplanting. Soil for a plant bed should be fertile and of good tilth and drainage; it must be protected from chilling winds and exposed to the sun.
The soil is usually partially sterilized by burning or using chemicals such as methyl bromide (now illegal in many countries) to control plant diseases, weeds, insect pests, and nematodes. The soil must be finely pulverized and level so that the seed can be lightly covered with soil by rolling or trampling.
Uniform distribution of seeds is important. In warm regions of the world, the germinating seedlings are produced outdoors in cold frames covered with thin cotton cloth or a thin mulch, such as chopped grass (used in particular in Zimbabwe), straw, or pine needles. Glass or plastic is used in colder regions, and close attention is given to watering and ventilation.
After 8 to 10 weeks the seedlings are 10 to 18 cm (4 to 7 inches) in length and are ready for transplanting in the field. Transplanting machines are used extensively in some areas, but much of the world’s tobacco is planted by hand.
Finally, there is an interesting fact about other potential uses of tobacco. As smoking rates have been vastly reduced over the last 20 years? Believe it or not, there is a possibility that tobacco oils can be used in biofuels. Also, researchers in India have patented an extract from tobacco called solansole, for use in several drug types.