EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — Each year potato growers from around the country gather to share acres planted, project the crop size, project the impact of the processing sector and project the timing of the harvest in order to help with smooth transitions between growing regions. This year’s meeting was held for the first time in Fargo.
About the only unknown at this point is the weather. And nowhere does the weather have a more of a profound effect on the crop than here in the Red River Valley where most of the fresh crop is grown without irrigation and the climate can vary greatly from season to season.
Another factor discussed this year was how, and at what pace, would consumer demand return to normal buying patterns as we come out of the pandemic? The pandemic shifted many potato sales from the foodservice sector to the retail sector.
YELLOWS – At the conference we learned that fresh growers are planting more yellow potatoes, not just here in the Red River Valley (up nearly 500 acres) but all over the country
Consumer demand for yellow potatoes has been steadily increasing for the past decade. Will that trend continue? If it does, growers will have once again responded correctly. If that trend slows down for any reason, yellows could pile up.
REDS – Demand for red potatoes can be described as in flux. Yellow potatoes seemed to have cannibalized the red market this past season, more so than in past years. This depressed prices as the shipping season went on. Growers in the Red River Valley have decreased red acres by just 1.2% this spring.
RUSSETS – The dominant potato sold in the fresh market is the Russet and there could be trouble ahead. Idaho growers have planted 15,000 more acres of potatoes this year, hedging those processors will take more potatoes than they have contracted for. Should this gamble be wrong, it will be disaster for the growers in Idaho and no doubt have a trickle-down effect on red and yellow prices.
UPGA’s Buzz Shahan urged red marketers to be aggressively perusing ads and warned russet growers that they could be in for a very tough year financially.
— Ted Kreis, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association
For more potato news, click here.