March 22, 2017
Last week’s freeze caused spotty damage in Florida’s Hastings district. Crops on the north end of the district experienced heavier damage than crops further south. The crop should come back. However, local observers indicate that the freeze will push back first-dig dates to late April. That is close to normal, but chip potato buyers had been counting on a mid-April start date for this year’s crop. Reports indicate that damage at Live Oak was much more serious. The first fields were in bloom, and the freeze burned plants back severely. While the plants will come back, harvest will be delayed and yields are likely to be well below average. Florida has been exceptionally dry this year, which has put stress on the potato crop, apart from the impact of last week’s freeze.
Chip potato harvest is ramping up in central Florida this week and next week. The cold weather did not affect those potatoes. However, yields may not be much better than average, due to dry weather throughout the growing season. Chip companies are pushing growers for an early start, which might reduce final yields even more. In addition, it is possible that the central Florida crop will clean up before the Hastings crop is ready to harvest.
US fresh potato shipments for the week ending March 18, 2017 totaled 1.857 million cwt. That is down from 1.859 million cwt shipped cwt during the same period, in 2016. Michigan packers shipped 49,800 cwt of table potatoes during the week ending March 18. That is up from 45,520 cwt a year earlier. This year’s Michigan shipments were 54.0% Russets, 39.6% Round White varieties, 5.6% Yellow potatoes, and 0.8% Red potatoes.
Michigan shippers are selling 10# bags of size A Russet potatoes for mostly $1.70-$1.90 per bag, unchanged for the week. Wisconsin packers are selling size A Russet potatoes in 10# bags for mostly $6.50-$7.00 per 50# bale, unchanged for the week. They are selling Russet 40-70 count cartons for mostly $$9.00-$9.50 per 50# box, up from $9.00 at this time last week. The weighted average shipping price for Idaho Norkotahs is $10.19 per cwt, up from $9.62 a week ago.
Maine packers are selling 2-inch minimum Round White potatoes in 5/10# film bags for mostly $8.00-$8.50 per bale, unchanged for the week. Florida packers are selling new-crop 50# cartons of size A Round White potatoes for mostly $22.25 per 50# box, down from $24.00-$24.25 at this time last week.