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Weather cuts potato acreage in the US, production dips 6%

Growers have fewer potatoes to sell compared with a year ago but they are getting more money for what they do have.

U.S. production of potatoes is down 6% this year, according to the first forecast of the season from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Total production for 2019 is forecast at 422 million cwt., down 6% from 2018, according to the USDA.

The harvested acreage for 2019 is estimated at 938,900 acres, down 7% from 1.01 million acres last year. The yield forecast, at 450 cwt. per acre, is up 7 cwt. compared with the 2018 crop.

The USDA said that growers in Idaho reported crop losses due to freezing temperatures in late September and early October, with several growers leaving potatoes in the ground to avoid the cost of harvest. Washington growers, according to the agency, reported some quality concerns because of “soilborne issues and freeze damage at the end of the harvest season.”

Prolonged wet conditions in late September and early October hampered harvest in the Red River Valley in North Dakota.

In the agency’s Market News reports, prices for potatoes in mid-November were running well above year-ago levels. The Idaho russet burbank price for 60-count 50-pound cartons was reported at $16-19, up from $8-9 per carton the same time a year ago.

In the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota, the USDA reported 50-pound cartons of size B round red potatoes were $23 to $25 on Nov. 13, up from $14 to $15 per carton the same time a year go.

Read the full article in The Packer here