Fall potato crops are going in the ground rapidly. Michigan growers should wrap up planting much earlier than usual this year. While dry conditions have allowed planting to progress rapidly, cold weather is slowing emergence and growth in some areas. High prices for competing crops also may be causing growers second thoughts on their acreage intentions.
Chip potato movement is steady, both from storage areas and from Florida. Nevertheless, it will take through most of June to clean up storage potatoes. Chip companies are running almost exclusively on contract potatoes. Some of the regional players have turned back contract potatoes that they will not need. Finding transportation to move potatoes is a major challenge for the chip companies.
Canada reports that it had 27.49 million cwt of potatoes left in storage on May 1. That is down 3.89 million cwt from last year, a 12.2% reduction. The shortfall involves fry-quality processing potatoes, seed, and table potatoes, but not chip potatoes. Ontario had 1.71 million cwt of potatoes in storage on May 1, 386,000 cwt more than it held a year ago. That included a record 1.36 million cwt of chip potatoes. Though the province’s April chip potato disappearance jumped 17.3%, to 542,000 cwt, the remaining chip potatoes would carry chip plants through July 14 at that pace. In addition, Quebec is reporting that it had 450,000 cwt of chip potatoes left in storage on May 1, up from 386,000 cwt a year earlier. The stocks data highlight the limited need for Canadian chip potato imports from North Carolina and Virginia this year.
US packers shipped 1.597 million cwt of table potatoes during the week ending May 8, 2021. That is up from 1.591 million cwt a year earlier. Michigan packers shipped 28,350 cwt of potatoes during the week ending May 8, 2021. That is down from 38,800 cwt during the same week in 2020. Last week’s Michigan shipments were 69.8% Russets, 14.3% Round White potatoes, and 15.9% Yellow varieties.
Michigan packers are selling size A Russets in 10# bags for $12.00-$12.50 per 50# bale, unchanged from last week. 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 $13.00-$14.00 per 50# box, also unchanged for the week. The weighted average shipping point price for Idaho Russet Norkotahs is $13.61 per cwt, up from $13.09 per cwt last week.
USDA has discontinued reporting prices for Red River Valley Yellow potatoes as the shipping season is winding down. Florida new-crop size A Yellow potatoes are selling for $18.25-$20.70 per 50# carton, unchanged for the week.