TI March 2016

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40 TOBACCO INTERNATIONAL MARCH 2016 "We heard time and again that once a farmer hit the crop throw, the com- pany didn't want any more," he said. "I am sure farmers with tobacco that fell out of their crop throw were glad to have an auction." In any case, thanks to the weather, the quality just wasn't there for this flue- cured crop. "This was a domestic crop [not an export crop]," Mullen said. "It appeared to be good-smoking light leaf." Burley Yield Comes Up Short As 2015 ended, it was clear that the American burley crop was short. "The volume is just not there," said Jerry Rankin, a farmer and auction op- erator in Danville, Kentucky. "At my warehouse, we sold 240,000 pounds at our first sale in December." That to- bacco averaged $1.60 a pound, Rankin recalled. "We had a few crops that brought $1.65 to $1.75. This was good domestic tobacco, but not ones." The price was expected to go up, Rankin said at the time. "With so many farmers coming up short—maybe by 40 percent— I think what we are going to see is that the price will get higher as we go along." The quality of the burley that was still in the barns seemed certain to im- prove. "A lot of tobacco is still hang- ing in the barn," Rankin said. "We had fogs in December and the tobacco will take on a darker color." Contracted tobacco fared better. A western Kentucky burley grower report- ed on December 9 that he had just sold 100,000 pounds with R. J. Reynolds. "All averaged $2," he said. "[There were] no problems. Grading was fair." This farmer also grows dark air-cured tobacco and sold 65,000 pounds with UST in Hopkinsville, Ky. "I averaged $2.45 per pound. [UST was] very fair to work with," the farmer said. There hadn't been much of an in- crease in the burley price by December 18, when a central Kentucky grower de- livered tobacco to PM USA—all Cutters and Tips. "They averaged $2.01, about what those grades attracted in 2014. "It defies all logic that this short crop is bringing less than last year," he said. U.S. LEAF REPORT Some of the 2015 bur- ley crop hung in curing barns like this near Mars Hill, N.C., through New Year's Day and even beyond because of atmospheric conditions. Workers "hang" burley on sticks in a barn in Greeneville, Tenn.

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