“Cuban Tobacco Seeds”

Q. I am more than a little confused by the term “Cuban tobacco seeds”. Do the seeds used in cigars made outside of Cuba still come from Cuba?
– James in Ephrata, PA

A. According to one of my top sources, the Cubans do not sell tobacco seeds; they are acquired by manufacturers “through friends.”

If I may digress for a moment, there’s a Cuban tobacco seed called Capero Uno, also referred to as Capero No.1. The Tobacconist University glossary defines it as a “newer Cuban hybrid [dark tobacco] varietal which started to be grown widely around 2007. Capero No.1 is a cross between Habanos 2000 + Corojo ’99 + Criollo ’98. It produces an extra 2 to 3 leaves over other hybrids and has very large leaves. Capero No.1 has been genetically engineered to produce no flowers and therefore no seeds [in order to] help Cuba maintain control over the plant’s genetics and where it is grown.” But according to my source, this seed has not worked out very well.

More to the point, when a manufacturer refers to “Cuban seed,” they are most often referring to “heirloom” seeds selected from tobacco plants originally grown from native Cuban seeds.