With Patrice Hirschfeld:Does A Dark Wrapper Mean A Strong Cigar?Maybe you have heard that the darker the wrapper, the stronger the cigar. This is both true and not true. Let me explain! It is true if the two cigars you compare are made from the same blend, have the same binder, and their wrapper has the same origin.You may know that going from the bottom to the top of a tobacco plant, leaves become darker in color and stronger in taste. But things are not just that simple, and this is another example. If you compare a slim panatela and a Churchill, both with the same components and exactly the same wrapper, I bet you will find the slim panatela stronger than the Churchill. It is not true when the two cigars have different blends and binders, or the two wrappers are not of the same origin. For example, rolled on the same bunch, a light brown, Cuban seed wrapper will be stronger than an oily, dark brown, Cameroon wrapper. If you like mild or medium cigars don’t be afraid of Maduros: these black wrappers are generally mild and sometimes sweet, compared with some brown ones.Growing Wrapper Leaf.A wrapper grower has a dream : to get perfect leaves to produce a Premium Wrapper. As soon as he starts the operation, the dream becomes a nightmare: weather conditions, insects, fungus, viruses, and all kinds of parasites are here, ready to destroy his hopes. From the time he starts setting the seed beds until the moment he picks the last leaf, it is a permanent struggle.Curing WrappersOnce properly picked, wrapper leaves are hung up the same day in a curing barn for drying. Draining out the huge quantity of water contained in the green material can be complicated. The process has to be neither too slow, nor too fast. The barn is checked several times every day and ventilation is adjusted according to the humidity inside the barn and the outside weather conditions. If necessary, heaters are used to help the drainage.Cigar Wrapper CharacteristicsTo be acceptable as wrapper, tobacco leaves must be clean, evenly colored, shiny, elastic, solid but thin, with veins drowned into the parenchyma, large and without holes. And last but not least, they must burn properly, giving ashes as white as possible. Easy, you think? No, it’s a headache to grow and process wrapper leaves! It’s difficult to imagine how many people have sweated before you finally smoke your premium cigar.Is An Open Air Or Shade Grown Wrapper Better?Traditionally, tobacco grows in open air fields. Wrapper tobacco is a fragile material. At the end, it has to be perfect. Strong direct sun radiation can deteriorate the result. To avoid the risk, fields can be covered with cloths fixed on poles, providing an artificial shade. This process, together with irrigation, allows to grower to keep the growing conditions under control. In some equatorial countries, thanks to a naturally cloudy sky, this expensive equipment is not necessary.