GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — Burley tobacco sales opened here Monday with companies sending growers a strong signal that they preferred graded leaf to mixed bales of the crop.
Richard Hensley of the University of Tennessee’s tobacco experiment station here said he recommends growers separate their crop by grade based on what he observed the first day of sales.
“The companies do want tobacco that is grown in Tennessee, and it appears they are willing to pay premium prices if the tobacco is separated by grade or stalk position,” Hensley said.
On the otherhand, Hensley said he saw many purchase tickets torn up.
“A certain price was offered for the tobacco and the grower was refusing that price.”
The support price for mixed bales was $1.49 per pound, with some companies offering as much as $1.65 for a few bales of mixed leaf, Hensley said.
“Most of the growers were refusing even $1.65,” Hensley said. “I did see several crops that were graded out, and the price on those ranged from $1.86 to $2.05 per pound for individual grades within the crop.”
Hensley said the $1.86-$2.05 price for graded tobacco was good, although about 90 percent of the tobacco offered for sale early Monday was mixed.
Comparing this year’s early sales with last year’s market, Hensley said burley tobacco last year brought the same price of $1.92 whether it was mixed or graded.
Growers who turned down purchase offers will probably try again next week, or the week after, to sell their tobacco with the hope the buyers will have changed their minds about mixed bales.
After tobacco has been compressed and baled, it is not practical to open it up and sort it by grade, said Hensley, who talked to several growers who still had a portion of their crop hanging in barns.
“Their minds were made up this morning to go back home and separate their remaining tobacco,” Hensley said.
Contact: Richard Hensley (423-638-6532)