The reason for the drop is clear, Graves said.
“The price is off $2 a carton from last year,” he said. “Movement’s been good, but prices are low.”
On July 16, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $13-15 for 40-pound cartons of No. 1 orange-flesh sweet potatoes from North Carolina, comparable to last year at the same time.
Markets were already beginning to tighten in the first half of July because of low storage supplies in Mississippi and Louisiana, Wooten said.
As of July 12, about 80% of the Mississippi crop was in “excellent” shape, while the balance checked in at “fair,” Graves said. That’s a good ratio for that time of year.
“At this point in time we feel good about the crop,” he said. “We’ve had some timely rains.”
Harvest will likely start about Sept. 1, about a week later than usual, Graves said. Volume shipments should start about Sept. 15.
Despite the lower acreage, Mississippi growers are confident they’ll have enough product to meet customers’ needs in 2013-14, Graves said.