Dryer weather has come to Michigan and Wisconsin this week. Growers are starting to store potatoes in both states. However, the prolonged wet weather is raising concerns about the potential for storage losses. Growers need to take precautions to make sure that the potatoes that they are putting away are sound. While central Michigan has been wet, the situation in Wisconsin appears to be much worse. National Weather Service radar maps indicate that southern portions of the state’s major potato growing are picked up 10-15 inches of rain in the last 30 days, with a smaller area receiving 15-20 inches. Isolated areas received more than 20 inches of rain during that time. The situation was better in northern growing areas, but all parts of the state received excessive rainfall.
Chip companies are running on contract potatoes. Dealers indicate that demand is good for this time of the year. That may be an indication that summer growing areas have cleaned up, and don’t have the open potatoes available that typically need to be cleaned up at this time of the year.
USDA issued revised data on 2017 fall potato production today. The government puts total production at 400.7 million cwt. That is 867,000 cwt more than the previous estimate. While the overall change is minimal, the government made adjustments to production for several states. The adjustment for Michigan was particularly puzzling. USDA found an extra 1,000 acres of potatoes in the state. It increased the estimate of Michigan’s harvested area by 1,500 acres, to 46,500 acres. That reduced abandonment to only 500 acres, even though we know that about 1,500 acres of Michigan potatoes were frozen in the ground. USDA reduced its estimate of Michigan production by 795,000 cwt, to 17.2 million cwt. That probably is a more accurate estimate of the 2017 crop size. However, the government pulled the crop size down by reducing the yield to 370 cwt per acre, rather than by acknowledging the abandonment that took place. That hardly inspires confidence in the accuracy of the USDA data.
US fresh potato shipments for the week ending September 8, 2018 totaled 1.571 million cwt. That is down from 1.750 million cwt during the same period in 2017. Michigan packers shipped 16,160 cwt of fresh potatoes during the week ending September 8, down from 26,500 cwt a year earlier. Last week’s Michigan shipments were 83.3% Russets and 16.7% Round White potatoes.
Wisconsin packers are selling Size A Russets in 10# bags for $8.00-$8.50 per 50# bale, down from $9.00 per bale a week ago. They are selling 40-70 count cartons for mostly $13.00-$14.00 per box, down from $15.00-$16.00 a week ago. The weighted average shipping point price for Idaho Norkotahs is $14.08 per cwt. That is down from $14.90 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.