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Hurricane Threatens Cuba’s Tobacco Fields

The weather is a very important topic to us smokers. As regulations, legislation, or plain old house rules drive us to the outdoors, the weather can be critical to cigar enjoyment. Zac & I had a first hand experience not too long ago when we refused to let the rain get in the way of our smoking fun. In additional to the personal effect on each one of us, we’re all affected at once by the growing conditions of our tobacco. The tobacco we smoke is grown in locations selected specifically due to the climate, for obvious reasons. Mother Nature is a key element in cigar enjoyment, and we would all do well to remember this.

Today, Cuba has an extra reason to be reminded. Recently downgraded Tropical Storm Paula has her sights set on Havana, and yesterday dumped 2.5 inches of rain on the province of Pinar del Rio, the place where much of the country’s prized tobacco is grown. Gusts of up to 75 miles an hour and the threat of flooding caused officials to evacuate approximately 120 people from the area. Only slightly less important, the tobacco was also protected. While there have been no reports of actual floods, the leaves from previous harvests have been moved to locations secure from flooding, and additional precautionary measures have been taken to ensure the fields will not flood. It hit home for me when I saw the sub-headline “Cubans Protect Homes, Tobacco Fields”. It really shows how vital tobacco is to their well-being, and the measures they will go to ensure that their cigars are constructed to perfection. It also drove home how easy it is for a crop of perfect tobacco to be wiped out in minutes by nature, and how little control we really have. Obviously the Cubans can see the storm coming and do their best to protect the crops, but even a Katrina-sized storm would wipe out their best efforts. Fortunately for both the Cubans and their tobacco, it looks like Paula isn’t going to do much damage. The supply of Cuban cigars should remain consistent for the parts of the world where they are legal, and we’ll keep waiting for our turn to give them a shot.

In the meantime, let’s use this as an opportunity to appreciate how interconnected our hobby is with nature. From the seed to soil to climate to outdoor smoking conditions, we are constantly dependent on the unpredictable force of nature to continue enjoying our cigars. We can control certain elements up to a point, be it with humidors, umbrellas, or protecting a field from flooding, but we can’t control everything.