US: Potato outlook somewhat brighter in 2017

Packing potatoesFor growers looking for a bright spot in 2017, potatoes might be that crop — if potatoes are already part of the rotation. Though Idaho and Washington are still the leading potato growing states, Idaho’s share has been slowly diminishing over time. Back in 1990, when Idaho growers planted 405,000 acres of potatoes, the Gem State represented 32 to 33 percent of the nation’s entire potato acres, said Ryan Larsen, an Extension farm management specialist at Utah State University. Larsen says the potato market spent last year trying to stabilize. The potato marketing year runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31. Growers saw an uptick in prices to start the 2013-14 marketing year, then it was all down from there. The 2014-15 and 2015-16 marketing years remained flat at around $6 to $8 per hundredweight. Following the cycle of one to two years of high prices, followed by a period of low prices, potatoes seem primed to realize somewhat higher prices in the 2016-17 marketing year, Larsen said. He looked at three different forecasts before speaking at the University of Idaho 2017 Agriculture Outlook conference last month. More