Michigan growers have been able to harvest some potatoes this week, but cool temperatures are limiting harvest activity to the afternoon. While harvest will wrap up for some growers this week and next week, it is likely to take through the first week of November to wrap up the 2018 harvest. Tonight will be the first hard freeze of the season. Sugar content is likely to increase with the cold weather, but there is no damaging freeze in sight, for the state. Growers are hopeful that they have been able to leave behind rotted tubers, and that potatoes being put in storage will hold well.
Crops in Wisconsin and North Dakota are not faring as well as those in Michigan. Wisconsin still has 30%-40% of its crop left to dig. Fields are saturated, and weather conditions have done little to promote drying. Cold nighttime temperature may be damaging tubers. Most North Dakota chip potatoes have been harvested, but 30% of that state’s table potatoes and more of its processing crop are left to dig. Nighttime temperatures have gotten extremely cold, but in some cases snow cover may have been sufficient to prevent serious damage to tubers. Temperatures may warm enough for growers to salvage the remaining potatoes, but frost damage is likely to make it difficult to store the late-harvested potatoes.
Chip plants are getting enough raw product for the time being, but buyers are concerned about supplies, quality and storability of this year’s crop. Chip companies will be increasing early contract volumes, but they may have to be less selective about varieties. Seed growers have cut back on Atlantic seed this year. Adverse growing and harvest conditions may limit the availability of seed from Wisconsin and North Dakota.
US fresh potato shipments for the week ending October 13, 2018 totaled 1.586 million cwt. That is down from 1.728 million cwt during the same period in 2017. Michigan packers shipped 35,700 cwt of fresh potatoes during the week ending October 13, 2018, down from 35,873 cwt a year earlier. Last week’s Michigan shipments were 87.4% Russets, 7.6% Round White potatoes, and 5.0% Red potatoes.
Wisconsin packers are selling Size A Russets in 10# bags for mostly $8.00 per 50# bale, unchanged from last week. They are selling 40-70 count cartons for mostly $12.00-$13.00 per box, also unchanged for the week. The weighted average shipping point price for Idaho Norkotahs is $13.36 per cwt. That is up from $12.76 per cwt a week ago.
Long Island packers are selling Size A Round White potatoes in 5# bags for $10.00-$11.00 per 50# bale, down from $11.00-$12.00 per bale a week ago. They are selling 50# bags of large Round White potatoes for $9.00-$10.00 per bag, down from $10.00-$11.00 per bag a week ago.