A1 History: Danville’s tobacco market sales were still popular in 1979

Published 5:41 pm Monday, November 18, 2019

Smoking bans in Boyle County, Perryville and Junction City have recently been front page news in The Advocate-Messenger. But 40 years ago today, the success of the first day of the annual burley tobacco sales was the main story.

The headline stated that burley tobacco brought a good price on the first day of the market sales.

According to The Advocate-Messenger archives, during the 1978 sales, more than 15 million pounds of burley was sold in the local warehouses. On the first day of sale, there were about 3.3 million pounds on the auction floor.

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According to the article, the first basket sold on the Danville market belonged to Eliza Nicely. The basket weighed 472 pounds of C3F burley and was purchased by Phillip Morris Tobacco Co. for $1.45 a pound — one penny more than the government price marked on the ticket.

Eight more baskets on the first row were also sold to tobacco companies and ranged in price from $1.35 to $1.46 per pound, making them sell for 2 to 27 cents over what the government marked as support prices.

In 1979 the support price was about $1.33 per pounds and in 1978 it was $1.24, according to the article.

For the first time, a delegation of four buyers from a “tobacco monopoly” in South Korea were purchasing tobacco in Danville.

According to the story, farmers seemed to be in a good mood but “not overconfident” about prices they hoped to receive. Many farmers had to deal with blue mold, black mold, black shank and heavy rainfalls during the growing season.

A veteran tobacco market observer said that year’s crop was short and light, and was of mediocre to good quality, but it was usable. He added that some tobacco sticks being weighed were 7 to 8 pounds, but normally should have been 10 to 12 pounds.

The Danville market rotation for the first week of sales in 1979 was Peoples, Burley and Farmers warehouses. After Thanksgiving, sales were to be held Mondays through Thursdays until Christmas.

The tobacco markets have since declined and Danville sales only occur one day a week at the only surviving warehouse, Farmers Tobacco Warehouse on Harding Street.