N.C. farmers resigned to weak tobacco prices
North Carolina tobacco farmers seem resigned to weak flue-cured tobacco prices this year as the largest warehouses kicked off their seasonal auctions along the state's East Coast on Wednesday.
Although buyers bid on so-called carryover tobacco, typically prime upper leaves left unsold from last year's harvest, warehouses jumped in to buy much of this year's crop on the first day of sales in the Eastern Belt. Flue-cured tobacco is North Carolina's largest cash crop.
``The prices were not what we had anticipated, so I went on and bought a little bit. It's normal procedure for the tobacco warehouse to buy more on opening day to help the farmer out,'' said Dwight Rouse, owner of the Gold Dollar tobacco warehouse in Kinston, N.C.
The Gold Dollar warehouse bought about 70 percent of the tobacco that was up for auction on opening day, with only three other bidders following auctioneer William Phillips through the bales and sheets of tobacco lined up through the warehouse.
``I think it (price) was off a little bit. I don't think it was as good as it was last year, but I also think the quality wasn't as good as it was last year,'' Phillips said.