Where the quality of end of product begins simply from seed to smoke
leaf position on stalk.
Color and ripeness of the leaves have a profound effect on physical, chemical and smoking characteristics of tobacco so harvesting a fully matured leaf is a pre-requisite for obtaining the acceptable quality.
After approximately three months of growing, the bottom leaves are matured and become ready for the first harvest. The leaves are ripened from the bottom to top so harvested from bottom to top. In the process of maturation, color of the leaves changes from green to yellow. Physical guidelines to identify a ripe leaf for harvesting are color of lamina changes from light green to yellowish green, color of midrib and veins changes to white and leaf becomes thicker and coarser to feel. When a matured tobacco leaf is harvested from plant it contains 80 to 90% moisture content and 10 to 20% solids. Out of solids about 25% is starch remaining made up with biochemical compounds. The harvested leaves are moved to shade as soon as possible for threading and curing. Otherwise even a short period of exposure to hot sun will result in dark spots, killing the live tissues even before curing.