There are a number of factors which buyers take into account when buying tobacco which include chemical composition, smoking characteristics, flavour and aroma, cutting quality, filling value and moisture content of the tobacco. It is important that leaves from different plant positions, that is primings, lugs, cutters, leaf and tips are kept separately because they have different chemical characteristics.
For instance, lower stalk tobacco will tend to contain relatively less nicotine than that higher up the stalk.
As a result, lower stalk leaf will generally tend to be more useful in filling capacity and neutrality in smoke than upper stalk leaf.
Likewise, leaves with differing colours that is, pale lemon “E”, lemon “L”, orange “O”, light mahogany “R” and dark mahogany “S” have different smoking qualities and chemical composition hence must be kept separately.
For example an orange style will tend to have more nicotine than a lemon style.
Quality is the term used for the degree of blemish, waste or injury which is rated from 1-5 for primings, lugs and leaf and 1-3 for short leaf, strips and scrap.
Another important attribute in tobacco is the smoking characteristic of the leaf in terms of flavour and aroma.
There is a general tendency for flavour to improve with maturity, which is the riper, softer and truer coloured when the leaf is and in the upper section of the plant, the more flavoured it becomes.
Flavour, aroma and cutting quality will vary with changes in the style of the tobacco hence different styles must be kept separately.
In addition, a technical consideration is length.
Short and long leaf should not be put in one category of a grade because when the grade is tipped and threshed, a mixture of short and long leaf produces an unacceptable product hence leaf of different length must be kept separately.
When tobacco is graded and presented, it is much easier for the buyers to blend different grades in order to achieve the many and strict specifications in terms of chemical compositions, smoking characteristics, flavour, and aroma among other requirements set by their overseas customers.
Noteworthy, is that tobacco grading starts before the crop is planted.
Planning to produce uniformity at all stages of production will produce the conditions under which grading is most likely to be made easy.
Factors which have a bearing on the outcome of grading include selection of uniform soil type, uniform ploughing and tilth preparation, fumigation and nematode control done evenly on the land, uniform fertiliser application, selection of uniform seedlings, topping and suckering which is done within the shortest possible time and complete control of suckers thereafter.
When it comes to reaping, it should be even and light and the reapings should not be mixed, efficient curing systems will also reduce the number of grades, and reapings should be segregated by lands and barns.
When tobacco grading is done properly, buyer interest which is normally accompanied by appropriate price is attracted and buyers’ objective of processing the tobacco to their clients’ satisfaction is easier to meet.
For any additional information please contact TIMB on telephone numbers 0772145166 /9 or 0279-22082 /21982 or 025-3439 or 067-24268 /29246 or 0277-2700 or 064-7280 or 0271-6772 or E-mail: [email protected] visit our website on www.timb.co.zw