Swedish tobacco farmers welcome harvest

Two cigar enthusiasts from Tromtösunda in southeastern Sweden are currently bringing in the last of this year's tobacco harvest.

Lasse Carlsson and Fredrik Wernstedt came up with idea of growing the crop as they each puffed on a cigar and spoke of the fact that tobacco was grown commercially in the Swedish countryside from the middle of the 17th century right up until 1964.

“We said to each other: ‘If they could grow it then, we can grow it now’,” said Lasse Carlsson.

Together the pair spend almost all their free time cultivating, harvesting, drying, curing and fermenting the leaves.

“We didn’t know anything about cultivating tobacco when we started. We experimented as well as reading up about it on the internet.

“Growing tobacco takes up weekends and can mean late evenings but when Fredrik and I can smoke our home-rolled cigars during the winter it feels like it’s worth the effort,” said Carlsson.

When the time comes to start rolling the cigars, a master blender – Juan Flores from Nicaragua – comes to Sweden to pick out the best leaves from the crop. Then the careful rolling process begins, eventually resulting in 3,000 cigars to take the friends through the winter.

“Juan does everything from chewing the tobacco to swallowing it, smelling it and classifying it in order of colour, thickness and the beauty of the leaves. Then he rolls the cigars in such a way that they all look and taste the same,” said Fredrik Wernstedt.