US: Spud officials optimistic about prospects for larger crop

Potatoes are harvested Aug. 23 in Eastern Idaho. Officials are optimistic about demand for a crop that is slightly larger but they say has excellent quality and an ideal size profile.Potato industry leaders are optimistic about demand for a fall 2016 spud crop that recent USDA estimates show was slightly larger than the prior year nationally and significantly bigger in the Pacific Northwest. U.S. production, at 405.172 million hundredweight, was up by 471,000 hundredweight from the 2015 harvest. U.S. growers planted about 20,000 fewer acres this season, but their average yields, at 451 hundredweight per acre, were up 18 hundredweight. Ideal growing conditions enabled farmers in Idaho, Washington and Oregon to make especially impressive yield gains, and increase combined production by more than 16 million hundredweight. Idaho growers planted 325,000 potato acres, up by 2,000 acres. Their average yields rose 27 hundredweight per acre to 430 hundredweight, boosting total production by nearly 9 million hundredweight to more than 139 million hundredweight. Washington growers kept acreage flat at 170,000 acres, but yields averaging 630 hundredweight per acre were up 40 hundredweight from the prior year. Idaho Potato Commission President and CEO Frank Muir believes factors have aligned for a down potato market to improve. More