October 25, 2017 Market Report
The Michigan potato harvest has come to an abrupt halt, as central Michigan picked up 4-5 inches of rain on October 23 and 24. Between 5%-10% of the crop is left to harvest. Growers have harvested potatoes into November in the past, and may be able to do so again this year, but the 10-day forecast is not promising. Forecast high temperatures are expected to reach the low 50s today and tomorrow, but will remain below 50º F for the remainder of the period. Showers can be expected for seven days, beginning on Friday. On a more positive note, there is no hard freeze in the forecast. It is unlikely that the remaining potatoes will chip out of the field, but growers may be able to get them under cover, and may be able to recondition them for use later in the season.
The recent rains have accelerated the switch to storage potatoes, but chip companies are still able to run almost exclusively on contract potatoes. Michigan has enough potatoes in storage to cover contract obligations, though individual growers may come up short on their contracts, if they are unable to harvest the remaining potatoes. Chip companies will be assessing the situation in the coming weeks, to determine the volume of contracts needed in Florida and Texas, for the 2018 crop. If Michigan growers are unable to finish harvesting their remaining potatoes, that could change the outlook for the 2018 spring and summer crops.
Ontario potato growers have a large potato crop this year. They should have enough chip potatoes to carry local plants into July. Quebec has a slightly larger crop than it produced in 2016, but the crop may include fewer chip and other processing potatoes, and more table potatoes than the 2016 crop, due to drought conditions in much of the St Lawrence Valley, this year.
US fresh potato shipments for the week ending October 21, 2017 totaled 1.867 million cwt. That is up from 1.731 million cwt shipped cwt during the same period, in 2016. Michigan packers shipped 41,227 cwt of fresh potatoes during the week ending October 21. That is down from 45,950 cwt a year earlier. This week’s Michigan shipments were 91.9% Russets, 4.4% Round White potatoes, 2.2% Red potatoes, 1.0% Yellow varieties, and 0.6% fingerlings.
Wisconsin packers are selling 5/10# Russet potatoes for mostly $7.00-$7.50 per 50# bale, up from $6.50-$7.00 per bale a week ago. Wisconsin 40-70 count cartons are selling for mostly $11.00-$12.00 per box, down from $12.00 per box at the same time last week. The weighted average price for Idaho Norkotahs is $15.70 per cwt, up from $15.50 per cwt a week ago.
Long Island packers are selling Size A Round White potatoes for $8.00-$8.25 per 50# sack, unchanged for the week. They are selling Chefs for $9.00-$9.50 per 50# sack, also unchanged.