Many Piedmont tobacco growers opt for auction

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DANVILLE, Va. -- Many tobacco growers from the Piedmont and southern Virginia are leaving contract prices behind and taking their product to live auctions.

Long time auctioneer Chuck Jordan explains why farmers are choosing this option.

"It's the fairest way. You got competition other places you don't have competition. You take what the man tells you," Jordan said.

When a tobacco grower signs a contract with a major tobacco company, the corporation is expecting a specific color and type of leaf.

Tobacco warehouse manager T.Y. Mason says those tight rules don't apply to public auctions.

"He can bring it over here, unload it, get it on the auction floor and certain grades might make money by doing that," Mason explained.

While auctions are making a slow return, buyer Kenneth Kelly says the excitement from past auctions haven't returned yet.

"Opening day was so much different than any other day. You couldn't walk in the warehouse. You would bump into people that don't know they were in the way of a sale."