Industry leader cautions against over-planting potatoes

01/08/2014 05:36:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Another big difference this season is average shipper prices are above the cost of production, whereas last year, Wright said they were less than break-even.

Because of improved technology and improved varieties, growers have been able to harvest an average of five cwt. per acre more each year than the previous year for the past few decades. At the same time, fresh-market potato consumption has declined at least 1% per year since 1998.

In addition, 2013 crop yields were down about 1.9% from expected forecasts.

Altogether, the three variables could result in 19 million cwt. more potatoes in 2014 even if growers plant the same acreage they did in 2013, he said.

The mix of potato types also has shifted, with much of the growth coming at the expense of round white potatoes.

Brown potatoes — namely russets — still comprise about 75% of the overall fresh-market potato category.

Since 2007-08, white potatoes have fallen from 7.8% of the category to 4.45%. During the same time, reds have grown from 13.3% to nearly 15% whereas yellow have gone from 3.5% to 5.5%.

Despite the growth of yellows, Wright cautioned against every grower planting an additional half-circle of that type this season.


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