Potato grower-shippers don’t see an end to sluggish markets before new-crop harvests later this summer.
Most Wisconsin shippers are expected to wind down their 2011-12 crops in late June or early July, said Tom Lundgren, owner and president of Stevens Point, Wis.-based Spud City Sales LLC.
As of mid-June, many Badger State growers were expecting a start date of early August for the 2012-13 crop, about a week to ten days earlier than in recent years, Lundgren said.
Lundgren hoped that excitement over new-crop russets will help provide a much-needed boost to markets.
“This market is going the wrong way for this time of year,” he said. “There’s even a struggle on new-crop California (potatoes).”
On June 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $8.50-9 for 50-pound cartons of russets 40-70 from Idaho, down from $16-18 last year at the same time.
Potandon Produce LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho, expects to have promotable supplies up until the beginning of the new season, said vice president of sales Dick Thomas.
“We think we’ll have an adequate supply to carry over to the new crop,” he said. “Quality and size look good. We have a nice crop to finish the storage season.”
New-crop Texas russets would likely start shipping about the week of June 18, and Lundgren hopes that crop would whet retailers’ appetites for the larger new-crop russets this summer and fall.
“Hopefully they’ll pay more for new-crop, and we’ll be able to keep that price up,” Lundgren said.
Rain has been far from plentiful this spring in Wisconsin, but irrigation has been able to keep plants sufficiently watered.
“The crop looks excellent,” Lundgren said. “I’d rather have it be too dry than too wet.”
In Idaho, meanwhile, a cold spell in early June delayed development of the 2012-13 crop, but as of June 12 it was too early to say by how much, Thomas said.
On June 1, about 43.9 million cwt. of potatoes were still in storage, 6% more than last year at the same time, according to the USDA’s June 13 Potato Stocks report.
Potato disappearance, at 336 million cwt., was up 6% from last year. Stocks in industry leader Idaho totaled 18 million cwt., up from 17.5 million cwt. on June 1, 2011. Washington held 14 million cwt., up from 10.4 million cwt.