Understanding the different types of tobacco is a crucial part of becoming a trustworthy distributor and a well-informed consumer. There are many types and forms of tobacco, and knowing the difference between full leaves and a cut rag is just the beginning.

Some types of tobacco are more heavily regulated than others due to a higher concentration of nitrates and carcinogens. If you’re not aware of the difference, you could end up in big trouble with the law.

If you’ve ever wondered how burley tobacco and flue-cured tobacco are different, read this straightforward guide.

Tobacco Plants: The Basics

Most tobacco plants follow a similar physical morphology and biological process. That is, they tend to look pretty similar and act in the same way. Often, the thing that changes a tobacco plant is the soil in which it grows.

Knowing exactly where your tobacco originates from can help you determine what kind of smoke it will produce. However, understanding the basics of the tobacco plant, how it grows, and how it’s harvested is essential.

The Plant

Tobacco plants tend to grow large, leafy appendages that branch out from the main stem. They could easily be confused with eggplants, petunias, and many types of leafy greens. Considering how much nicotine eggplants contain, this actually makes a little bit of sense!

The average tobacco plant doesn’t smell like dried tobacco. Instead, it has a light, sweet scent very similar to flowers. The leaves develop a stronger, more intense smell throughout the drying process.

Tobacco plants grow in many different types of soil, but most tend to flourish in heavier, nutrient-rich soil. Each plant can produce between ten and sixteen usable leaves every season. The average strain can grow up to nine feet in height!

The taller, older leaves of a tobacco plant will produce a very different taste to younger, newer leaves. The drying process and exact subspecies also help to determine the final dried product’s flavor and complexity.

How It Grows

Tobacco seeds aren’t self-sowing. They require a little love and attention to germinate and grow. They’re incredibly small and easy to misplace, and they need a constant temperature of 75 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate.

After germination, it can take two months or longer to transplant the seedlings into an outdoor field or soil bed. Also, during this waiting period, the plants will begin forming stronger roots and root systems.

This means that tobacco seedlings have to be planted as a whole group — at least initially — rather than single plants.

How It’s Harvested

Tobacco leaves are harvested from the main body of the plant when they become large enough to block sunlight for smaller, younger leaves. However, the exact harvest time differs from farmer to farmer and process to process.

Once the leaves are picked, they undergo a drying process. Some may hang their tobacco to dry in hot, high places. Others may choose cool, well-ventilated air drying. The process helps to determine what kind of smoke is produced by that tobacco.

Whole plants can also be harvested, and this may be the preferable option for farmers with large yields.

What is Burley Tobacco?

Burley tobacco is a light, golden, or yellow form of tobacco that is air-dried. Though it’s often a lighter color than other types of tobacco, it has a denser, cigar-like flavor. This likely has everything to do with the low sugar content of burley tobacco.

Often times, sugar is added to burley tobacco to lessen it’s intense, dark taste. It’s also combined with other types of tobacco to make for a mixed, balanced, flavorful smoke.

Though people have been cultivating tobacco for centuries, burley tobacco didn’t reach much popularity until the late 1800s. However, it soon faced bans in Canada due to its added sugar content.

It’s not as intense as Turkish tobacco, which is globally known for its taste, but burley tobacco hits far harder than most flue-cured tobacco strains. For this reason, it is often used by pipe-enthusiasts that enjoy a rich, deep smoke.

What is Flue-Cured Tobacco?

Flue-cured tobacco is also called Virginia tobacco or “bright tobacco.” It is a type of tobacco that was traditionally hung from poles or rafters in darkened barns. This type of tobacco gets its nickname from the US state of Virginia, where it was first cultivated many years ago.

Burley tobacco tends to darken during the air-drying process, but Virginia tobacco is actually quite light in color. This lightness is reflected in its taste, which is far milder and crisper than burley tobacco. Also, while burley tobacco dries in the cold, fresh air, flue-cured tobacco requires hot, dark areas to dry.

Virginia tobacco has been grown in the US longer than burley tobacco has. It was such a huge export crop for the early colonists that they planted hundreds of acres with the stuff. This resulted in severe soil depletion and resulting deforestation.

While this might not be great news, it does show just how popular flue-cured, Virginian tobacco was, even more than a hundred years ago.

Flue-cured tobacco tends to exhibit less mold than other types of tobacco. It has a low nicotine content and high sugar content, making it an ideal choice for smooth cigarette blends. It is one of the most popular options for those seeking to create their own mix of strains.

How Are They Different?

Burley tobacco and flue-cured tobacco are processed and dried differently. Also, burley tobacco tends to contain higher amounts of nitrates than flue-cure tobacco naturally. But mainly, their differences can be summed up as:

  • Different drying processes.
  • Different strains of tobacco — genetically distinct.
  • Different taste profiles.
  • Different appearance and texture.

Find Wholesale Tobacco Leaf Today!

If you’re searching for some quality burley tobacco or flue-cured tobacco, why not buy wholesale? You’ll be saving a ton of money by buying directly from a tobacco farm warehouse and wholesaler.

From whole leaves to cut rag, you can open the door to lower prices and higher quality today. There are several benefits to buying tobacco leaves wholesale. If you’re interested, please read more!