About 1.06 million acres of potatoes will be harvested this year, down from 1.13 million acres last year, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
That’s a direct result of sluggish markets in 2012-13, grower-shippers and officials said.
“There’s no question this is a response to the difficult markets,” said Jerry Wright, president and chief executive officer of Salt Lake City-based United Potato Growers of America.
United Potato and its state-level affiliates met with growers prior to planting and made recommendations regarding acreage, and Wright said he’s pleased growers made their own individual decisions to reduce acreage.
“We’re optimistic that market conditions will return back to normal,” he said. “We’re quite encouraged by the acreage report.”
When it came time to make decisions for 2013-14, a glance at price sheets helped make growers’ choices for them, said Dick Okray, president of Plover, Wis.-based Okray Family Farms Inc.
Wisconsin growers like Okray Family Farms often make their planting decisions for the following fall’s crop in March. On March 11, 50-pound cartons of russets 40-70 from Wisconsin were $6.50-7.50, down from $11 last year at the same time.
Prices for Idaho potatoes were even lower. Fifty-pound cartons were $4, down from $12.50-13 the year before.
“I think (lower 2013 acreage) was a natural response to the pricing of potatoes at the time of planting,” Okray said.
Harvested acreage is expected to be down in seven of the nine top-producing states, according to the report.
In industry leader Idaho, acreage should fall from 344,000 to 316,000 acres.
Washington’s acreage is expected to decrease from 164,000 to 160,000; North Dakota’s from 84,000 to 80,000; Wisconsin’s from 64,000 to 63,000; Colorado’s from 54,600 to 54,300; Maine’s from 57,000 to 54,000; and Oregon’s from 41,900 to 39,900.
Michigan’s acreage is expected to climb from 45,500 to 46,000 acres, and Minnesota’s to remain unchanged from last year’s total of 47,000.
Sweet potato acreage also expected down
U.S. sweet potato acreage also is projected to fall in 2013, according to the report.
About 116,000 acres will be harvested this year, down from 127,000 acres last year.