The Veguero – farmer – may have charge of half a million plants or more, and each must be visited more than 150 times in the course of the growing season.
Tobacco plants flourish in the loosest possible soil, so fields must be ploughed very carefully in a certain pattern to a certain depth several times before planting. Animal traction is still used, so as not to compact the soil.
Seedlings are grown in special seedbeds, with a covering of straw for protection. Some are now grown by a new method, in floating polystyrene seed containers sheltered inside plastic-clad ‘tunnels’.
After 45 days when the seedlings reach a height of 13-15cm, they are ready to be planted out.
Some 18-20 days after planting out, the soil is banked up around the base of the plant to promote the development of the roots, a process called aporque
As each plant reaches the desired height, the top bud is removed (desbotonado) to concentrate growth on the development of larger leaves. Removing the top bud causes an explosion of side shoots.The farmer must make repeated visits to each plant to remove them. This is called deshije.