Chip potato markets are quiet. Chip plants are running almost exclusively on contract potatoes. Supplies are plentiful. Some observers are expressing concern that storage potatoes could go out of condition before the industry is ready to use them. Michigan growers indicate that it will take all of June to clean up their 2020-crop storage potatoes.
North Carolina picked up rain over the weekend with more in the forecast for this week. That has alleviated concern for the North Carolina crop. Growers will start harvesting chip potatoes within the next 10-14 days.
Wisconsin chip potatoes escaped any serious damage from a freeze scare last week. Frost touched low spots in some of the state’s northern growing areas, but the damage was minimal. Temperatures were about 5º F higher than had been forecast.
Potato chip demand may be picking up as the country reopens. However, chip plants are experiencing staffing difficulties. Growers have had several loads canceled during the past week because of staffing issues. Unless labor market conditions improve, staffing issues are likely to continue for chip plants, truckers, and farms. Several observers are worried that finding harvest workers could be extremely difficult this year.
US packers shipped 1.669 million cwt of table potatoes during the week ending May 29, 2021. That is up from 1.517 million cwt a year earlier. Michigan packers shipped 33,395 cwt of potatoes during the week ending May 29, 2021. That is up from 26,500 cwt during the same week in 2020. Last week’s Michigan shipments were 94.6% Russet potatoes, 4.0% Round White potatoes, and 1.3% Yellow varieties.
Wisconsin packers are selling size A Russet potatoes in 10# bags for mostly $8.00-$9.00 per 50# bale, unchanged for the week. They are selling 40-70 count Russet count cartons for mostly $14.00-$15.00 per 50# box, also unchanged from last week. The weighted average shipping point price for Idaho Russet Burbanks is $14.31 per cwt, up from $14.22 per cwt last week.
Florida new-crop size A Yellow potatoes are selling for mostly $20.70-$21.50 per 50# carton, unchanged from last week.
USDA has discontinued reporting Florida prices for Round White potatoes for the 2021 crop, as the season is winding down. North Carolina should start reporting Round White prices by the fourth week of June.