Although the first official U.S. fall potato production estimate won’t be released until Nov. 9, early signs point to flat to lower total output this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Oct. 27 Vegetable Outlook report said that the total 2017 potato crop is projected to range from 428 to 441 million hundredweight, between 0% and 3% lower than a year ago. The fall potato crop accounts for 91% of total U.S. annual potato output, according to the agency.

Fall potato area down

The 2017 fall potato acreage indicates a 2% drop in planted acres and a 1% decline in harvested acres, according to the report. U.S. fall-season potato growers planted 907,800 acres in 2017, which the USDA said was the lowest acreage since 2010. 

Idaho, North Dakota, and Wisconsin had planted area declines of 5%, 9%, and 7% percent, respectively, according to the report.

While fall acreage was lower than a year ago, the USDA said the summer potato crop increased 6% to 66,000 acres and spring plantings were up 6% to 54,000 acres.

The average price received by potato growers for all types of potatoes from September 2016 to July 2017 was 8.8 cents per pound, down about 1% from a year ago. For the same period, the USDA said grower prices for fresh-market potatoes averaged 9.4 cents per pound, 6% below year-ago levels.