About 300,000 pounds of burley from North Carolina plus a little from Tennessee were sold at auction on December 14 at Planters Tobacco Warehouse in Asheville, N.C. But the results weren't as good as hoped. "The price range for most tobacco offered was $1.10 to $1.50 a pound," said warehouseman Billy Anders.
"The farmers were gene-rally discouraged."One likely reason for the low price was the preponderance of carryover from 2014 on the floor. Anders estimated that about 60 percent of the leaf was carryover, and it didn't find favor with buyers. More new crop burley had been expected but dry conditions over the previous 10 days made it difficult to strip leaf from the stalk and bale it. Now, substantial unsold burley remains on farms in western North Carolina, Anders says. "If there is enough interest, we may hold another sale at the end of January." For more information, call Anders at 828 777 8577.
A quarter million pounds were sold at this week's sale at the Big Burley Warehouse in Lexington, Ky., says manager Darby Montgomery. The practical top was $1.73 per pound for good cherry tips, he says, while low-quality tobacco from last season brought $1 or less. His rough estimate of the average price is $1.40 a pound, with a lot selling for $1.50 to $1.60. "If you had good quality, you did all right," he says. He expects to have much more tobacco to sell after Christmas.
Flue-cured auctions ended well. "Some sold as high as $1.97 a pound, and some sold for as little as 20 cents," says Mann Mullen, owner of Big M Warehouse in Wilson, N.C. "We moved quite a bit of tobacco, and everyone seemed satisfied with the price.
All tobacco received a bid, and all was sold." Some of the flue-cured brought to Big M was grown without a contract, says Mullen, but more of it was excess tobacco left over after the grower had achieved the "crop throw" requirements on his contract. "We heard time and again that once a farmer hit the crop throw, then the company didn't want any more," he says. "I am sure farmers with tobacco that fell out of crop throw were glad to have an auction." Thanks to weather, top quality just was not there. "This was a domestic crop," he says.
Going against the grade: A grower who sold at the recent auction at Planter's Warehouse in Asheville says he had only 2014 carryover left to sell. It was still on the stalk, and he didn't think it feasible to pay $10 an hour or more to get a crew to work it off. Instead, he decided to strip it into one grade, which he could do himself. With the sale behind him, he thinks now he did just fine. "You can't afford to grade tobacco if you're paying $10 an hour for stripping," he says.
A lesson learned: The 2015 flue-cured grown in eastern North Carolina was a dry weather crop that was hard to cure, says Peyton McDaniel of Whitakers, near Rocky Mount. In retrospect, he thinks planting earlier might have helped. "There were times when we couldn't harvest because of the weather and then we had a hard time getting our tobacco in before the rains came in September." That was particularly a problem on the organic tobacco he grows with brother Billy McDaniel and cousin Phillip
Watson. "We will start setting our organic tobacco a little earlier in 2016 so we can harvest earlier and still get it fully mature," he says.
Growers to meet: The annual meeting of the Council for Burley Tobacco will take place January 16, at the Owensboro Convention Center during the Ky. Cattlemen's trade show. The annual meeting of BTGCA will take place the day before at 1...The annual meeting of the Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 on the last day of the Southern Farm Show (see next item).
Show time! The S.C. AgriBiz and Farm Expo is scheduled for January 13, and 14, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Florence Civic Center. The Southern Farm Show will take place February 3, 4 and 5 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C. It will end on February 5. Watch for advance coverage of both shows in January issues of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter.
Winds that twisted stalks made sucker control difficult on burley in the Bluegrass, says Jerry Rankin, a farmer and auction operator in Danville, Ky. "We couldn't get in some fields with high boys to spray MH because the tobacco was so tangled." Some tobacco didn't get any MH at all, he says.
UPCOMING GAP RECERTIFICATION MEETINGS
NORTH CAROLINA (Flue-Cured)