Monday, June 3, 2013


An auction at the Old Belt Tobacco Sales warehouse in Rural Hall, N.C., last fall.

After capturing a small but significant portion of 2012 tobacco sales, auction houses are coming back this season with a goal of getting more for their farmers' leaf. Tobacco Farmer Newsletter spoke to the principals at all the auction houses that could be located and asked about plans for the coming year. Contact information for each warehouse follows.
Note: I would be glad to know if any other warehouses are planning auctions for 2013. Call me at 919-789-4631.

-There will be two auctions in Wilson, N.C. The Big M Warehouse, located in the old Liberty Warehouse, will offer both sealed bid and live auctions. "It will be the  farmer's option which way he wants to sell," says Mann Mullen, owner of Big M. "We haven't worked it out yet. We may have live auctions in the morning and sealed bid in the afternoon. Or we might do the different types on different days. When the tobacco is delivered, the farmer can specify how he wants to sell it." Last season, when the sales were 100 percent sealed bid, Big M sold 3.5 million pounds. "We hope to exceed that this year," Mullen says.

--At the American Tobacco Exchange, which occupies the old Growers Warehouse facing Hwy. 301 in Wilson, Randy Brandon and Todd Adams will conduct auction sales there this season. But at press time, they hadn't decided between a sealed bid or a live auction. TFN will keep you posted.

--In Danville, Va., the owners of Piedmont Warehouse converted from sealed bid auctions to live auctions last season, with good results. "The live auction was popular last year," says Jim Eggleston, sales manager. "The farmers liked it better that way, and I did too." It will be all "live" this year, and Eggleston hopes to double sales. Most will be flue-cured. "But we sold some burley last year, maybe five percent of our volume. It was all from non-traditional growers in this area, but I would be glad to sell burley from the traditional areas."

--In Rural Hall, N.C., near Winston-Salem, Dennis White says he has sold some non-traditional burley at his primarily flue-cured live auction, Old Belt Tobacco Sales. He may sell more this year, perhaps partly from traditional burley areas. "I have gotten calls from places like Asheville, N.C., Boone, N.C., and Mountain City, Tn.," he says. The auction has been very popular with flue-cured growers in the Piedmont. "Some farmers are planting more than their contracted amount with the idea of selling the overage at auction. And there are two or three farmers who plan to sell their whole crop with me."

--In Danville, Ky., Jerry Rankin, owner of the Farmers Tobacco Warehouse, expects to sell at least five million pounds at his warehouse, he says. "That may prove a conservative figure." Still, he is concerned that this may be a short burley crop relative to what buyers could use. "I don't think we are going to have enough tobacco from this crop," he says. "We could sell 20 percent more than what we expect will be grown and still not fill all the demand."

--In Lexington, Ky., live auctions are tentatively set to begin the first two days of November at the Big Burley Warehouse, says manager Darby Montgomery.

Getting in touch with auction warehouses

Piedmont Warehouse, 301 Trade Street, Danville, Va. Contact Jim Eggleston at 434-489-4292or at

Old Belt Tobacco Sales, 1395 Old Belt Way, Rural Hall, N.C. Contact Dennis White at 336-416-6262 or at

Big M Tobacco Warehouse, 1723 Goldsboro Street SW, Wilson, N.C. Contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 or at
shrimpmann@, or warehouse manager Greg Ray at 252-799-6061. The main number at the warehouse is 252-206-1447. 

American Tobacco Exchange1300 Tobacco Rd., Wilson, N.C.      Contact Randy Brandon at 252-343-1661 or Todd Adams at 919-369-5356 or the warehouse switchboard at 252-237-5233. You can email to

Big Burley Warehouse, 573 Angliana Ave., Lexington, Ky., 40508. Contact Darby Montgomery at his cell number, 859-339-3922 or at his office at 859-233-9944. 

Farmers Tobacco Warehouse, 4540 Perryville Rd., Danville, Ky. Contact Jerry Rankin 859-319-1400 or at 

Kentucky King Warehouse, Maysville, Ky. Live auctions were conducted here in 2012 and might be again this year if there is enough interest. If you're interested, contact Eldon Ginn at 606-782-2477. His office switchboard number is 606-564-4242.

Clay's Tobacco Warehouse, 949 Camargo Rd.,  Mount Sterling, Ky. I have been unable to reach the owner, Roger Wilson, to confirm this, but I have been told by two reliable sources that he is considering conducting an auction this year. The number I was given was 859-498-6722, although I have had no luck getting an answer.

In other tobacco news:

New flue-curing barns roll off the line. Bob Pope of Long Tobacco Barn Company LLC tells TFN that its barn line is running at full capacity and turning out an average of three barns per day. The company is now working to fill orders for barns for delivery prior to commencement of the 2013 curing season. Long is also now taking orders for its third 2013 production run for barns to be delivered in late July and August, prior to the crop letting loose in the field. "Though design improvements we made in our newest model took us longer to refine than we anticipated, our customers have been patient," Pope says. "They report they are well satisfied with their new barns and are looking forward to using them this coming season."

A report from the Bluegrass: A TFN source who grows burley on a large scale south of Lexington, Ky., says that he started transplanting on May 20. "Now, we are a little behind where we normally are, maybe a week to 10 days," he says. "The cold temperatures have slowed plant development, but it doesn't take the crop long to catch up if conditions are right." The change in crop insurance rotation requirements has led to some land leaving tobacco in his area. Farmers here frequently grow burley three consecutive years, then put it in grass for six or seven years, but federal crop insurance will no longer insure land planted a third year in tobacco. Some farmers are choosing to plant something else. 
Speaking of crop insurance, earlier this month, the Senate considered eliminating subsidies for federal crop insurance for tobacco farmers, But the amendment was turned back by a vote of 52 to 44 on May 23. Kentucky State Senator Paul Hornback, a tobacco farmer himself, told the Associated Press that tobacco would have survived if the insurance program had ended. "But you would have seen the face of tobacco growing change very drastically once again." 

  • June 10-12 Georgia-Florida Tobacco Tour starts with a kick-off supper at Mixon's Pond House in Waresboro, Ga., at 7 p.m. Monday and ends at Lake City, Fla., Wednesday. Contact: J. Michael Moore at 229-386-3006 or
  • July 23. South Carolina Tobacco Tour starts at Tobacco Facility at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence and ends out in the field in midafternoon. Contact: Dewitt Gooden at 843-662-3526 or at


 1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse


We will hold both sealed bid auctions 
and live auctions. 

 We promise



For more information, contact:
--Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
--Greg Ray at  252-799-6061  or
--the warehouse at 252-206-1447. 

BulkToBac Barns

This softcovNC Tobacco Booker book from History Press recounts the Bright Leaf's contribution to Tar Heel history. A terrific gift for tobacco-oriented individuals. The price is $21.99.  
Also available: A companion work called "Remembering North Carolina Tobacco," also by Yeargin. The price is $19.99. To order, specify which book (or both) you want and send check or money order to 
Billy Yeargin, 112 N. Webb St, Selma NC 27576. For more information, email Yeargin at



The American Tobacco Exchange in Wilson, N.C., will conduct auction sales this season, directed by managers Randy Brandon and Todd Adams.
This company has conducted auctions the past four seasons, and growers that have sold with us have received the highest price available on everything from pickings to first quality tobacco. They will also purchase tobacco they have contracted in the same professional manner as last season.
For more information, you can contact them at the numbers below or at the warehouse switchboard.

American Tobacco Exchange, located in the old Growers Warehouse off Hwy. 301. Address: 1300 Tobacco Rd., Wilson, N.C. Phones: Randy Brandon (252) 343-1661, Todd Adams (919) 369-5356. 
Warehouse (252) 237-5233.