Wednesday, November 7, 2012

THE NEW LOOK OF LEAF MARKETING

Aggressive bidding at the Old Belt auction in Rural Hall, N.C.

A quality crop that is short of demand 
is creating vigorous competition among buyers
Auctions going at full speed. Old Belt Tobacco Sales warehouse in Rural Hall, N.C., has been auctioning tobacco each Tuesday since August 28, with good results. At its sale on October 29, a total of 265,000 pounds of flue-cured moved into the trade at an average price of just under $2.02 per pound. Many of the individual lots brought a very high $2.20 a pound, and there was substantially no ticket turning. "Hardly a bale 'went home' from this sale," said warehouse manager Dennis White. He plans several more weeks of flue-cured sales and will also sell any burley that is delivered to him. For more information, call White at 336-416-6262.

There are burley auctions too: Farmers Tobacco Warehouse of Danville, Ky., held the first burley auction of the year on November 5. "We sold 195,000 pounds for $1.98:98 a pound at our opening sale," said owner Jerry Rankin. "It was as good a floor of tobacco as you could possibly want to see. The color was excellent, and the quality and texture was very good." There were no bid rejections by farmers. Rankin expects to move five million pounds before the season ends. For more information, call Rankin at 859 319 1400.

Two new non-contract delivery stations in Kentucky: Brian Furnish, who served until recently as general manager of Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, has formed his own company, called International Tobacco Trading Group (ITTG). In association with Mac Bailey of Golden Leaf Tobacco of Keysville, Va.,ITTG is operating delivery stations this season Lebanon, Ky., and Cynthiana, Ky. "Next year we plan to offer contracts, but this season we are accepting leaf that needs a home, for whatever reason," Furnish told Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. "Small bales are acceptable, small lots are available, and in the three weeks we have been operating, we have offered the highest prices that have been offered for this crop." Farmers interested in an appointment should call Furnish at 859-298-0465. "I will meet you, weigh and grade your tobacco, and if you are satisfied with the price, give you a check on the spot."

A change of direction for the leading burley cooperative: Pat Raines, a burley grower from Seaman, Ohio, was elected president of theBurley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association on October 11, replacing Roger Quarles of Cynthiana, Ky. Raines had been the secretary of the cooperative. The first order of business for the new board will be replacing general manager Brian Furnish, who left the cooperative earlier in the year. Raines told Tobacco Farmer Newsletter that the cooperative has increased the prices that it will offer for tobacco from this crop and will be more aggressive in contracting next season. "There are a lot of new markets for burley now and we need to have tobacco to meet this new demand," he said. "It is going to be hard to be the leader if we are chasing someone else." Besides taking delivery of the burley it contracted for from this crop, the cooperative will be represented on all the burley auctions taking place this winter in Kentucky. Notes: Al Pedigo of Scottsville, Ky., was chosen to replace Raines as treasurer...Raines is the first president of the cooperative from a state other than Kentucky.

Superstorm Sandy had little effect on tobacco: The Pennsylvania tobacco-growing area was as close to the storm's damage area as any leaf area, but Jeff Graybill, Pennsylvania Extension tobacco agronomy educator, said the impact was not great. "There was virtually no hail or storm damage, and no barns went down," he said. "No tobacco was still in the field. We'd had a hard frost on October 12, and harvest ended soon after that. Most had been harvested by the end of September. We had a week of bad curing weather (after Sandy), but the cure was far enough along that there probably is not much shed burn." He doesn't expect stripping to start till mid-November, and it may well be December 1 before it really gets going. "I would rate the crop good to excellent going into the barn," said Graybill. There was a blue mold scare in June but the hot dry weather burned it out.

Very little of the flue-cured crop was still in the field when Sandy struck. Tim Hambrick, N.C. Extension tobacco agent in Winston-Salem, said, "There was quite a lot of wind, and it did get cool which affected curing, but farmers adjusted to it all." He added that this appears to be a very good crop. "The yield should be in in the 2,300-pound-per-acre range," he said. In Yadkin County, just west of Winston-Salem, flue-cured grower Mark Smitherman said, "We had a lot of dry weather, but the crop is very good quality. I was well pleased with the prices I got."

In western North Carolina, the only effect of Sandy was snowfall, said Stanley Holloway, N.C. Extension area burley agent. "Almost everyone got two to three inches, and some got eight to 10 inches. Our burley was harvested and in barns by then. It could have been affected by intense cold, but it did not get cold enough to freeze." There had been killing frosts in early October, and most had been harvested by the middle of the month, well before Sandy. Holloway continues to be optimistic about the yield of western North Carolina burley. "It should be one of the best we have had in years," he said.

In Tennessee, a lot of the burley crop was harvested the last two weeks of October, said Paul Denton, Extension tobacco specialist. Harvest labor was a problem. "But I think we got it all harvested by the end of the month. Except that a lot of it stayed out well beyond the four weeks we like to see it in the field after topping, we have a pretty good crop from Knoxville north and east." The state average yield is estimated at 1,900 pounds per acre but it may be higher than that. "We didn't get much rain from Sandy, and the wind wasn't too bad. There was snow at some higher elevations but that didn't have much impact on tobacco."  

In Kentucky, burley harvest ran late for part of the crop. "We finally got it all in, I think," said Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. "We had labor issues in the latter part of the season that really interfered with harvest. But our earlier crop is turning out really well. The color is good and what has been delivered is receiving good grades. But some of the later tobacco may have quality issues."

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