About the Black Patch



The term Black Patch is used to refer to a region within two states that are known for growing dark-fired tobacco.    Northwest Tennessee and western Kentucky almost exclusively grow this type of tobacco. The color of the plant’s leaves is dark olive green, almost black, hence the term Black Patch for where it is grown.

Dark-fired tobacco is a darker variety than burley and requires smoking in barns to cure it for use. The fires are built with hickory or oak wood and the blaze is kept at bay with sawdust, creating smoke and heat. As it cures the leaf turns to a dark amber color.

The work on a dark-fired tobacco farm is constant, often up to a 14 month process. Just as a vintner understands the timing of good wine, the dark-fired tobacco farmer must learn the firing process from watching others, being patient, learning from mistakes, and gaining years of experience, typically from a family member. Growing dark-fired tobacco is a tradition passed through from one generation to the next. 

Smoking barns are a common sight during the fall months each year at Smith Farms.
Fires burn underneath hanging tobacco at Smith Farms.