The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is a mouthwatering Cuban-seed wrapper grown primarily by the Oliva Tobacco Co. who is considered ‘master growers’ of tobacco. They began growing the once popular Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper leaf in Ecuador, but about 6-7 years ago the Oliva family decided to start growing the Habano wrapper after getting their hands on some Habano seeds from Cuba. Now, 70% of their lands in Ecuador are dedicated to the Habano leaf.
Like most fashions and styles, the wrapper leaf trends change over time as well. The Connecticut, Camaroon and Sumatra wrappers all had their moments in the spotlight at one time or another, but now it’s Habano’s time.
The Oliva family is expanding their crop to meet the growing desire for the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, which is soaring to unprecedented heights. The family just bought more land to cultivate more Habano tobacco in order to produce enough of this highly coveted wrapper. They bought a 325-acre plot, which was previously an unused cattle ranch last year and immediately planted it with Havanna 2000 and Corojo varieties of seeds to satisfy the growing need for the Cuban-seed wrapper.
Because this was virgin land, the first harvest should produce an exceptional crop. That is precisely why most tobacco farmers allow their farm land to rest every year. The rest allows the earth to replenish itself with vital nutrients to properly produce healthy crops. All farmers divide up their land and only use about one-third of the farm per year to grow. They rotate land plots each year to let the other two-thirds rest.
The Oliva family planted 10 acres with the Corojo 1999 tobacco on the new farm named “La Lydia”, after Oliva’s grandmother, located down the road from their larger farm, “La Mecca”, which is nestled at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador’s Guayas province. This region is ideal for growing because it is usually cloudy and provides plenty of natural shade cover for the tobacco. Technically this leaf is sun grown but the natural shading allows the wrapper to properly grow without artificial interruptions.
That is exactly why this region is a great place to grow the Connecticut seed wrapper because the Connecticut wrapper is extremely temperamental and needs natural shade. Ecuador has become the Mecca for growing wrappers.
With the new plot of land came new barns to cure the tobacco. Oliva has constructed four massive steel-frame curing barns on the La Lydia farm, each one over 300 feet long, which is longer than a football field. The large-capacity barns are enclosed in bamboo and topped with corrugated steel roofs. They chose steel over the more traditional and cost effective wood to withstand the elements with the stronger material.
In addition to Cuban-seed wrapper, the La Lydia farm also produces Sumatra leaf and a bit of Connecticut-seed wrapper that Oliva calls 8212. All the tobacco from this farm is cured on premises in the new barns before being packaged and shipped to Oliva’s processing facility in Nicaragua where sorting and fermentation take place.
Oliva’s wrappers are found on many brands, including Ashton Virgin Sun Grown (Sumatra), Arturo Fuente Rosado Sungrown Magnum R (Habano) and the Romeo by Romeo y Julieta and the Julius Caesar by Diamond Crown, to name a few.