Potato volume down across several areas - The Packer

Potato volume down across several areas

12/06/2013 10:51:00 AM
Melissa Shipman

Courtesy Jones Produce Inc.Red organic potatoes are harvested for Jones Produce Inc., Quincy, Wash. Potato acreage across the state has dropped by about 4,000 acres, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Potato acreage in Idaho and across the U.S. is down this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

About 80,000 fewer potato acres were planted across the U.S. this year than last year, totaling 1,067,000 acres, according to a Nov. 8 NASS report.

In Idaho, 317,000 acres were planted this year, down about 8% from the 345,000 acres planted in 2012.

Yields varied across the state, but Ryan Wahlen, sales manager at Pleasant Valley Potato Inc., Aberdeen, Idaho, said yields were a little lower this year.

“Early yields were below average and then towards the end of the season, we started to see average yields,” he said. “But the supply this year will be tighter, and I expect there to be good markets through the winter and spring and into summer,” Wahlen said.

Frank Muir, chief executive officer for the Idaho Potato Commission, Eagle, said volume from Idaho is down but not by as much as it could be, thanks to higher yields in some areas of the state.

In 2012, Idaho produced nearly 142 million cwt. of potatoes. This year, about 133 million cwt. were harvested, according to the USDA.

 

North Dakota

The North Dakota potato crop may have been late getting started, but growers are pleased with the quality.

“Our claim to fame this year is quality,” said Paul Dolan, president of Associated Potato Growers Inc., Grand Forks, N.D.

Despite a two-week planting delay and a late harvest that didn’t end until November 5, Dolan is pleased with the market.

“We have a very nice crop this year, and we should have plenty to supply to customers,” he said.

 

Washington

Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, says supply from the state is down this year.

Acreage dropped from 164,000 last year to about 160,000 this year, according to the USDA. Voigt said most of that loss was in early processing potatoes. However, the fresh supply is also down because of lower yields.

“The pipeline of fresh potatoes was near empty in late July and early August, so many of our fresh growers had to harvest earlier than normal to meet demand,” Voigt said.

The early harvest meant growers had to sacrifice yield. High summer temperatures also caused some problems.

“There was also a hot stretch during the summer that took the top off the yields for fresh potatoes going to storage,” Voigt said.

Still, he’s pleased with the quality, though sizing is a little inconsistent.

“Some growers had a small set, which allowed the potatoes to get big, while others were more affected by the hot weather and saw a smaller than normal size profile,” Voigt said.

 

Colorado

Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, says the crop is of good quality this year.

He expects a more manageable size profile this year after a lot of larger potatoes last year. However, there may be a smaller crop due to a reduction in plantings.

“We’re down in acreage a little this year because of the long drought,” he said.

The lack of snowpack and rainfall has caused some major concern for growers.

“We’re trying to work through some water issues, and we have a good, strategic plan to deal with that,” Ehrlich said.

Still, he’s eager for the winter snowfall to begin.

“We’re hoping to see a lot of snow. That would be a blessing,” he said.



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