Weekend rain has slowed the Michigan harvest this week, but harvest is close to 80% complete, and growers are getting back in the field today. Dealers expect to continue shipping potatoes off the field for at least another 10 days. It will take that long to wrap up field-delivery contracts. Storage problems have been limited, so far this year, in spite of the heat at the beginning of the storage harvest. Some growers will need to find extra storage for their potatoes, but storage will not be as tight as it was two years ago.
Chip potato markets are quiet. Chip companies are running mostly on contract potatoes. Chip potato crops are good in Michigan and growing areas to the east, with strong yields, and near-record solids. North Dakota also has an excellent chip crop. Wisconsin is reporting that yields are down this year, but that high solids will offset some of the shortfall, relative to contracted volumes.
While chip potato supplies are plentiful this year, supplies for frozen processing and for the Russet table potato market will be tight. Chip potato growers may be able to find other markets for their extra potatoes, at reasonably good prices. French Fry producers may be interested in chip potatoes, to produce products that are not sensitive to tuber length. The Russet table potato market is likely to be the strongest in at least five years.
US fresh potato shipments for the week ending October 14, 2017 totaled 1.692 million cwt. That is down from 1.768 million cwt shipped cwt during the same period, in 2016. Michigan packers shipped 35,873 cwt of fresh potatoes during the week ending October 7. That is down from 38,140 cwt a year earlier. This week’s Michigan shipments were 83.8% Russets, 10.0% Round White potatoes, 5.0% Red potatoes, and 1.1% Yellow varieties.
Wisconsin packers are selling 5/10# Russet potatoes for mostly $6.50-$7.00 per 50# bale, unchanged for the week. Wisconsin 40-70 count cartons are selling for mostly $12.00 per box, also unchanged for the week. The weighted average price for Idaho Norkotahs is $15.50 per cwt, up from $14.50 per cwt a week ago.
Long Island packers are selling Size A Round White potatoes for $8.00-$8.25 per 50# sack, down from $8.50-$9.00 per sack at this time last week. They are selling Chefs for $900.-$9.50 per 50# sack, down from $10.75-$11.00 per sack a week ago.