Chip potato markets remain extremely quiet. Plants are running almost exclusively on contract potatoes. Supplies appear to be balanced. The growers’ biggest challenge is securing seed for 2021 crops. That is particularly true in southern growing areas, where growers prefer to use Atlantic seed. Early-season contract volumes will be up slightly from last year, but growers are not seeing any push for volumes as large as they had in 2019.
Stats Canada indicates that Canadian growers produced 104.2 million cwt of potatoes during 2020. That is 1.4 million cwt less than the 2019 crop, a 1.4% decline. However, the crop totals mask serious challenges created by the 2020 growing season. Production in the Maritime Provinces is down 20.2% from last year. Though production is reported to be up from last year in every other province except Saskatchewan, the only provinces where supplies are adequate to cover industry needs are Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.
Ontario growers produced 7.518 million cwt of potatoes in 2020. That is 813,000 cwt more than the 2019 crop, an 11.7% increase. The split between table potatoes and chip potatoes will not be available until later this week, but it appears that the province should have adequate supplies to fill its needs through the regular storage season. However, to the extent that Canadian chip companies rely on potatoes from PEI and New Brunswick to meet their needs, that could put them in need of importing more chip potatoes next spring and summer.
US packers shipped 1.487 million cwt of table potatoes during the week ending December 5, 2020. That is down from 1.687 million cwt a year earlier. Michigan packers shipped 2,501 cwt of potatoes during the week ending December 5, 2020. That is down from 67,460 cwt during the same week in 2019. Last week’s Michigan shipments were 82.3% Russets, 8.2% Round White potatoes, 7.4% Yellow varieties and 2.1% Red potatoes.
Michigan packers are selling size A Russets in 10# bags for mostly $12.00-$12.50 per 50# bale, down from $12.00-$13.00 per bale a week ago. Wisconsin packers are selling size A Russet potatoes in 10# bags for mostly $9.00-$9.50 per 50# bale, unchanged for the week. They are selling 40-70 count Russet count cartons for $13.00-$14.00 per 50# box, up from $12.00-$14.00 per box a week ago. The weighted average shipping point price for new-crop Idaho Russet Norkotahs is $15.05 per cwt, down from $15.40 per cwt a week ago.
Wisconsin packers are selling 10/5# bales of size A Yellow potatoes for mostly $18.00-$19.00 per bale, unchanged from last week.
Maine packers are selling 2 inch minimum Round White 10/5# film bags for $11.00-$11.50 per 50# bale, up from $10.50-$11.00 per bale a week ago.