Michigan is the only place in North America with potatoes left to harvest. Growers have managed to dig a few more potatoes over the last week, but more than 3% of the crop is left to dig. Any potatoes left in the ground after tomorrow night are likely to be abandoned. Temperatures are forecasted to drop as low as 18º F, and remain below freezing for close to 60 hours. Losses could exceed 500,000 cwt of chip potatoes.
Michigan should have enough potatoes to meet contract obligations, in spite of the expected abandonment. However, the supplies are spread unevenly between growers. We understand that growers have started to swap potatoes between themselves at contract prices, to even out the supply situation.
Dealers indicate that this year’s transition to storage potatoes has been rocky. Growers are trying to move some troubled lots before storages melt down. That has resulted in high defect levels, with some loads being rejected. Issues include soft rot and bruising. The challenges are not limited to Michigan. Reports indicate that some Ontario growers are shipping Lamoka potatoes that were harvested during the fall heat wave now, in order to minimize losses. Those potatoes originally were scheduled for delivery between May and July. The shift is raising concern for supplies of late-season potatoes in Canada. As more challenges surface for this year’s storage chip potatoes, across North America, prospects for contract volumes in Florida and Texas are rising.
Michigan packers are selling 10# bags of Size A Russet potatoes for $1.60-$1.80 per bag (First Report). Wisconsin packers are selling 5/10# Russet potatoes for mostly $7.00-$7.50 per 50# bale, unchanged from last week at this time. Wisconsin 40-70 count cartons are selling for mostly $12.00-$12.50 per box, also unchanged for the week. The weighted average price for Idaho Norkotahs is $16.70 per cwt, up from $16.32 per cwt a week ago.
Michigan packers are selling 10/5# bags of Round White potatoes for $9.00-$11.00 per 50# bale (First Report). 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. Maine shippers are selling 5/10# bags of 2” min Round White potatoes for $9.00-$9.50 per 50# bale (First Report).