Monday, September 10, 2012

Auction sales of 2012 begin in North Carolina

Flue-cured leaf picked and sorted.
Workers pick through flue-cured
leaf near Wendell, N.C.

The first leaf auction of the year took place on August 28 at the Old Belt Tobacco warehouse in Rural Hall, N.C., near Winston-Salem. The next is scheduled for Tuesday, September 11"We sold 155,000 pounds, all flue-cured. Buyers and sellers were well  satisfied. "The first sale went real well," says Dennis White, who is manager of the warehouse.The bidding was very strong, and every lot on the floor attracted a bid. There was no ticket tearing." Top quality lugs brought $1.80 per pound, and second quality brought about $1.65. "There was very little real cheap tobacco," says White. "Any that had any color sold for $1.60. 'Dead' tobacco brought $1." There were six buyers, with Independent Leaf Tobacco and Bailey's Cigarettes particularly active. White plans on selling on each Tuesday for the rest of the season and is prepared to sell on as many additional days as necessary to move all the tobacco that farmers bring. The next sale will be on and White expects to sell 250,000 pounds. Later in the season, burley will also be sold.

Auction sales in Kentucky will get under way in November. "Our first sale will take place the second Monday in November," says Jerry Rankin, a burley grower/ warehouse owner in Danville, Ky. "We will have as many sales per week as we need to accommodate this crop. We can sell two or three days a week if necessary. We expect to move about half a million pounds per sale." No scheduling is required, but you can reach Rankin at 859-319-1400. "Bring it in and we will sell it," says Rankin. "No amount is too small." Other auctions are expected to be held in the Lexington and Mount Sterling markets and perhaps some others. Editor's note: If you are operating an auction warehouse in any state for any type, please send descriptive information to me at and I will run it in a future issue.

Watch for the next issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter in about a week, featuring an analysis of the September USDA Crop Report. Till then, following are some brief notes on the crop at this point:

There was an exorbitant amount of rain in North Carolina counties close to Wilmington late in August. "It rained 12 days straight at one point," says Alan Wooten of Currie. "And they were torrential." The crop can be saved but some yield reduction seems likely.

Tobacco in Mecklenburg County on the southern border of Virginia was affected by heat and drought. "I think the heat did us more harm than the dry weather," Bruce Hall, a farmer who grows about 80 acres of tobacco, told the Richmond Times Dispatch. He said his crop looks good on balance, but "those 100-degree days really affected the tobacco, and I'm thinking it is going to cut the yield maybe 10 percent on some of it."

An odd year in Kentucky, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "Basically our burley looks pretty good, and we should have at least an average crop, maybe a bit better than average in some places. Our production should be close to USDA projections." Roughly 50 percent of the state's burley had been harvested through Labor Day, and farmers were just getting into curing, he said. Unirrigated burley in the west part of the state was showing some effects of drought.

The burley crop in Tennessee may be slightly above average, says Paul Denton, Tennessee Extension tobacco specialist. "There is a little black shank, a little drowning, but for the most part it looks good," he says.

About 40 percent of the Georgia crop remained to be harvested at the Labor Day break, says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco agronomist. "It is holding up pretty well," he says. Harvest of the Debby-damaged Florida crop is complete, says Moore.


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