Persistent rains are slowing harvest in Michigan and in Wisconsin. Chip companies have been able to get enough potatoes to keep plants running, though they are having to scramble to replace missed loads. Demand has remained relatively strong during the traditional post-Labor Day slump. Companies are chewing through field delivery contracts rapidly. They are likely to start taking storage contracts off the field, perhaps as early as the beginning of October.
The wet weather in Michigan and Wisconsin is taking a toll on this year’s expected production. In addition, growers fear that storing the 2018 crop will be challenging. Low spots have been drowned out in both states. Growers may have to pass over 5%-10% of their ground, in order to avoid putting compromised potatoes into storage. Some potatoes on higher ground have started to rot, due to the extremely wet conditions. We are picking up a few reports of loads being rejected, due to rot issues. In addition to the abandonment, this year’s challenging growing conditions have trimmed yield expectations for both states. The rains have leached nutrients from the soil, which will make it difficult for late fields to bulk up properly.
US fresh potato shipments for the week ending September 1, 2018 totaled 1.840 million cwt. That is down from 2.048 million cwt during the same period in 2017. Michigan packers shipped 9,700 cwt of fresh potatoes during the week ending September 1, down from 24,120 cwt a year earlier. Last week’s Michigan shipments were 62.9% Russets, 35.1% Round White potatoes, and 2.1% Reds.
Wisconsin packers are selling Size A Russets in 10# bags for $9.00 per 50# bale, unchanged from last week at the same time. They are selling 40-70 count cartons for mostly $15.00-$16.00 per box, also unchanged for the week. The weighted average shipping point price for Idaho Norkotahs is $14.90 per cwt. That is down from $15.38 per cwt a week ago.
Delaware packers are selling 50# bags of Round White potatoes for $8.75-$9.75 per bag, unchanged from last week.