Across tobacco country, crops wilt from rain

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky farmer Jason Elliott had one of his best stands of burley tobacco growing until the rains started. Five days and seven inches of precipitation later, about a quarter of his crop was ruined.

The thunderstorms trimmed thousands of dollars from his payday when he hauls his leaf to market.

Fields across tobacco country have been soaked. Without a stretch of dry weather in coming weeks, Elliott's predicament could play out many times over.

More than half of top grower North Carolina's crop is in jeopardy. In Kentucky, the nation's second-leading producer, the toll could hit as much as $100 million if the crop doesn't rebound.

It threatens to become the latest setback for a sector of agriculture that has endured sluggish prices, higher production costs and uncertain markets due.

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