Rains harm New York potatoes, spare onions

09/04/2013 01:52:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Despite struggling with abnormally heavy rains that disrupted planting, growers of New York storage onions and potatoes expect normal fall season starts and quality.

Potato volume, however, could become tight later in the winter, grower-shippers say.

Potatoes

Williams Farms LLC in Marion, N.Y., plans to begin harvesting its reds, whites and golds on-time Sept. 9.

John Williams, partner, said he planted some in mid-July after the torrential rains but said those plantings should account for about 20% of the deal.

“Some of the earlier plantings don’t look good,” Williams said in late August. “We should run short in volume by February and March. In our area, we had plenty of trouble with rain. Long Island made out okay but Delaware had a lot of trouble too with all the rains.”

Torrey Farms Inc., Elba, N.Y., planned to begin harvesting in mid- to late October.

Maureen Marshall, vice president, said quality looks strong on round whites and yukons.

“There are a few spots in the fields where they were drowned-out but overall, things still look good,” she said. I think we will have a good quality crop.”

Though prices were low last season, Williams said he was able to ship potatoes into June, the normal end to the season.

Last season brought $13-14 cwt. for whites compared to the normal $18-20 prices, Williams said.

On Sept. 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported U.S. 1 baled 10 5-pound sacks of round whites size A from eastern Long Island, N.Y., selling for $8.50-9.50 with 50-pound sacks of As selling for $8.50-9.50

Onions

The heavy rains didn’t affect onions as much, grower-shippers say.

Torrey Farms began harvesting yellow and red onions in mid-August.

Marshall said the season should bring a normal onion deal.

“Quality has been very good,” she said in late August. “The transplants came in a lot stronger than the seeded onions. Quality varies because we had to work hard to bring in a nice crop this year, but we should have a good, steady supply.”

Williams plans to begin harvesting storage onions on-time Sept. 15.

Though the downpours stunted plants during harvesting, he said they’ve improved since late June.

“We are fairly pleased with the onion crop,” Williams said in late August. “It won’t be a bumper crop but it may be decent sized.”

Williams said the rains delayed maturity on some onions.


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