Burley Prices Steady On Season, Despite Late Drop (250)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Burley tobacco prices in Tennessee have fallen since after-Christmas markets opened, but not enough to significantly effect the 1997 crop’s average price.

 Dr. Don Fowlkes, tobacco specialist at the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, said Friday pre-Christmas sales averaged above $1.91 per pound — but slightly less since the holidays.

“The amount of tobacco that’s been sold since Christmas and what remains to be sold does not amount to a whole lot,” Fowlkes said. “Those sales have not brought down the season average very much.”

The average price for 1996 burley was $1.92 per pound in a one-price market.

“The market average for this year’s crop was not a whole lot different, although the one-price market disappeared. Lower stalk leaves were selling at $1.92, mid-stalk leaves at $1.86 and top leaves — if they were short and dark-colored — for $2.05 per pound.”

 Fowlkes said the slightly lower average price for 1997 burley had more to do with quality than buyer demand.

 “We have had some late tobacco that has not been very good quality,” said Fowlkes, attributing most of the quality problems to weather. “As often happens in this business, success relates directly to weather.”

 Most state burley markets are recessed until Feb. 23. When they re-open, most will need only a few days to a week to sell their remaining leaf, he said.

 Crop production reports estimate a statewide 1997 burley harvest of 83 million pounds. Sales already total 86 million pounds but some was grown in neighboring states, Fowlkes said.

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 Contact: Dr. Don Fowlkes (423-974-7208)