Explore the Biggest Tobacco Growing States

When it comes to growing tobacco, a few American states have managed to wrestle control of the industry. Despite being on the decline, the United States still harvests 322,120 tons of tobacco every year. This staggering amount of tobacco makes America the fourth largest tobacco producer in the world after India, Brazil and China. Even though these figures make tobacco seam mainstream, the bulk of the production is limited to a few key areas. Out of the 19 states that grow tobacco, four states account for 80% of the production.

This shocking disparity showcases the crucial role tobacco growing plays in certain states. On top of being part of the culture and local tradition, this industry is crucial for certain economies. Thousands of tobacco farms are operating throughout America. Over half of these farms are located in one state, which makes it one of the top domestic exports. This huge impact is too profound for any cigar enthusiast to ignore, since it creates some exceptional local brands.

Staying on top of new brands is hard, but America’s main tobacco hotspots are set in stone. These places are crucial for the industry, since they produce some of the best cigars from American soil. To highlight which states American cigar aficionados should keep an eye on, we compiled this list. These areas routinely fly under the radar, so prepare to be surprised by the obscurity of these hidden power houses!

Top Tobacco Producing States in America

State #3: Virginia (44 Tons in 2018) – Out of all the American states, few have a more established relationship with tobacco than Virginia. Despite not being native to North America, tobacco eventually made its way to the states and dominated its economy. After being domesticated in South America, tobacco was eventually brought to Virginia. It was harvested by Native American farmers for over four thousand years before Jamestown was settled.

When John Rolfe imported Nicotiana tabacum seeds from the Caribbean, a new type of tobacco was born. This Virginian breed of tobacco was less harsh than its counterparts and was so tasty that it influenced the American Civil War. Due to its high labor intensity, tobacco production greatly influenced Virginia’s decision not to join the Union. Even after the Civil War was over & slavery was abolished, tobacco continues to play a key role in Virginia. Against the odds, they maintain their spot as one of America’s top tobacco producers.

State #2: Kentucky (134.4 Tons in 2018) – Like many Southern states, Kentucky relies heavily on tobacco production. In total over 255,000 acres are dedicated to cultivating this iconic plant. Unlike the other entries on this list, most of their producers are smaller scale. Over 44,967 tobacco farms operate within the state with an average size of 5.7 acres. This staggering amount of farms produces some of America’s best tobacco, keep an eye out for Kentucky brands!

State #1: North Carolina (251.9 Tons in 2018) – In a state where agriculture is king, tobacco still maintains its position as the number one cash crop. Generating $754 million each year, no other plant can compete with tobacco in North Carolina. This state has always dominated America’s tobacco industry, but multiple aspects have changed in the last decade.

Thanks to numerous initiatives and a decrease in demand, less farmers in North Carolina are relying on tobacco. On the flip side, the ones that continue to grow tobacco are producing more leaf than ever before. The average tobacco farm in North Carolina is 100 acres, which is four times the national average. This switch to large scale farming ensures that North Carolina continues to pioneer America’s tobacco industry.



March 04, 2019 by Nathaniel Mansfield

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