Buyers bid on leaf at American Tobacco Exchange warehouse in Wilson, N.C., at an auction on October 16. Photo by the Editor.
Auction sales of flue-cured tobacco were in extreme doldrums in October. At a sale at the American Tobacco Exchange warehouse in Wilson, N.C., on October 16, the top price seemed to be around $1.20 a pound, and that was for some very good tobacco. A lot of the crop appeared to have been sold at $.90 a pound and some sold as low as $.75, which would obviously not cover the cost of production.
Prices are too low, said Rick Smith, president of Independent Leaf Tobacco and one of the buyers at the sale. "I don't know how farmers are making any money the way things are. Some are going to have to think about leaving the crop. I know tobacco farmers aren't quitters but with no demand, this is a losing battle."
Harvest is over in East N.C., South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. But some flue-cured is still in the field in the Piedmont area of western N.C. and perhaps some in Vir-ginia.
The USDA's final proj-ection of crop vol-ume for 2019 was that flue-cured will be down 15 percent in volume, in large part because of dry weather throughout the season and also the cat-astrophic effect of Hurricane Dorian in eastern North Carolina and South Carolina. But the burley crop was projected only eight percent downward, mainly because of good conditions that lead to a good yield in Kentucky.
Following are USDA's October projections for each of the types. For flue-cured and burley, projections by state are included.
ALL TOBACCO--448 million pounds, down 16 percent from last season.
Zimbabwe pounds up: The 2019 Zimbabwe flue-cured crop, just marketed, is estimated to have been 571.6 million pounds in volume, up 2.7 percent from the year before. The price was 2.02 per kilogram, down from 30 percent from the year before.
DATES TO REMEMBER
December 5, 9 a.m.-noon. N.C. Tobacco Day, Johnston County Extension Center, Smith-field, N.C. Lunch will follow the program.