Through 53 sale days of the 1997 U.S. flue-cured auction season, total flue-cured gross sales reached 436,473 metric tons at an average price of $3.79 per kilogram. This represents a decrease in sales of about 1 percent, and a decrease in the average price of about 6 percent when compared to the same 53 day period of the 1996 U.S. flue-cured auction season. Gross sales were reported lower in the type 11 and type 14 belts, but were reported higher in the type 12 and type 13 belts. Average prices so far this year were reported lower in all belts. Over 15 percent of sales have gone under loan so far this year compared to less than 1 percent during the same period of last year.