Weekly Potato Report

Michigan Potato Industry Commission
April 23 2014

USDA indicates that the 13 storage states held 112.15 million cwt of potatoes on April 1. This is the first Potato Stocks report issued by USDA since February 2013. Reported stocks are 3.5 million cwt below April 2012 levels (two years ago). At 28.7% of production, this year’s April stocks/production ratio is the lowest since 1990. The low stocks/production ratio could lead observers to believe that late-season stocks are extremely tight, but market signals are more in line with a moderately tight supply situation. We suspect that there are numerous data issues with this year’s stocks numbers. This is the first time in over 20 years that USDA has surveyed the indus-try, to determine April 1 stocks in most reporting states. The usual method has been to subtract usage from pro-duction, or December 1 stocks data. Because of the change in methodology, USDA has no benchmark data to use for adjusting the stocks numbers. The stocks data for Idaho, Colorado, and several Midwest growing areas appear to be out of line with reality. Therefore, we suggest caution in interpreting the numbers.

USDA puts Michigan’s April 1 potato stocks at 2.1 million cwt. That is up from 1.2 million cwt at the same time in 2012 (two years ago), but slightly below 2.3 million cwt held on April 1, 2011. The stocks numbers appear to be reasonable, but we are picking up a sense that this year’s storage chip potatoes will clean up somewhat earlier than had been expected as recently as March.

The transition between storage and new-crop chip potatoes may not be as easy as the industry had ex-pected. Central Florida yields have been somewhat disappointing. Reports suggest that the industry is moving through those potatoes rapidly. Limited harvest has started in Hastings. Yields on the earliest harvest are up 60 cwt per acre from last year. However, reports suggest a mixed situation, with some fields expected to produce their best crops ever, while others fail to reach long term averages. Some chip companies will be pushing Has-tings growers to harvest potatoes before they reach their yield potential, while others hope to stretch supplies, because crops in North Carolina and Missouri are developing later than normal. Cold, wet weather continues to slow planting and crop development throughout the East and Midwest.

US fresh potato shipments for the week ending April 19 totaled 1.875 million cwt. That is up from 1.753 million cwt during the same period in 2013. Michigan shipments for the week ending April 19 totaled 44,300 cwt. That is down from 51,600 cwt during the year-earlier week. Last week's Michigan shipments were 71.3% Russets, 27.8% Round White potatoes, and 0.9% Red potatoes.

Michigan dealers are selling Russet table potatoes in a range mostly $2.00-$2.25 per 10# bag, un-changed from two weeks ago at this time. Wisconsin shippers are selling baled 10# Russets for mostly $8.00 per 50# bale, unchanged during the last two weeks. Wisconsin 40-70 count cartons are selling for mostly $11.00-$12.00 per 50# box, also unchanged. The weighted average shipping point price for Idaho Russet Burbanks rose to $13.34 per cwt, equal to the two week earlier price, though pricing has moved erratically during the intervening period.

Maine packers are selling 5# bags of 2 inch minimum Round White potatoes for $10.00-$10.50 per 50# bale, up from $9.50-$10.00 on April 9. Florida packers are selling new-crop Size A Round White potatoes for mostly $16.50per 50# bag, down from $18.50-$18.75 on April 9.


This Weekly Potato Report includes current Michigan grower issues, in depth market news, and other time sensitive information. This report contains market sensitive information and your candor in using this information is appreciated.  Your comments and suggestions are vital to improving this report and other services.

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