US: Shore potato growers hope for better prices

Shore Potato Growers Hope for Better PricesThe bulk of potato shipments from Virginia’s Eastern Shore are chip-stock potatoes, and the 2017 market is looking up for growers of the variety. Potatoes constitute a small but substantial share of cropland on the peninsula, and nearly 30 farmers gathered recently to hear the 2017 market outlook during the annual Eastern Shore Agricultural Conference and Trade Show in Melfa. “Most of our best pricing years have occurred following decreases in production,” said Brett Richardson, marketing specialist for the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, who delivered the talk. “When we have a better year, it’s not because people are suddenly buying more potatoes. It’s very supply-driven, and when supplies are down in competing areas, we will have a better year.” Predicting this year’s potato market relies heavily on the fall harvest, which accounts for 92 percent of potatoes grown in the U.S., he said. As always, weather will play an important role in this year’s market, and that remains unpredictable. More