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Managing Markets

During a video interview at the recent U.S. Potato Board meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo., Lee Frankel, president and CEO of United Potato Growers of America, discussed the need to better manage markets to maintain a steady profit flow throughout the year. Keeping prices at the "sweet spot, where it's good for consumers, good for restaurants, good for retailers, good for the producer."

Frankel also spoke on higher commodity prices will enable growers to plant to market demand instead of planting to a potential market.

Projected increase in 2011 potato acreage

Early indicators point to a 44,300 acre increase in the 2011 fall potato plantings from 2010s acres planted according to Bruce Huffaker's North American Potato Market News (NAPMN). Most of the projected increase is found in increased processing contract volumes with the Pacific Northwest accounting for the majority of increased acres.

Huffaker's March 30 NAPMN predicts that growers will plant 938,000 acres in 2011, up from 893,700 acres in 2010, a 5 percent increase and 900 more acres than growers planted in 2009.

Washington state leads all states with a projected 11.1 percent increase to 150,000 acres in 2011, up 15,000 acres from 2010. Huffaker estimates that Idaho will plant 315,000 acres in 2011, up 20,000 acres from 2010's 295,000, an increase of 6.8 percent.

Colorado, Nebraska and North Dakota are the only major growing states showing a possible decline in acres for 2011.

Fry and chip sectors show the greatest increases. Tablestock shows a slight increase but if process growers exceed their volume contracts the surplus will spill over into the table market.

Currently, planting in the Upper Midwest is running seven to 10 days behind schedule due to wet and frozen fields. Growers in the Red River Valley are bracing themselves for more record flooding this spring. Saturated ground that never recovered from the autumn precipitation combined with a huge snowpack means that they are stockpiling the sandbags in throughout the Red River Valley.

Huffaker also reports that estimated potato stocks, as of April 1 are 106.5 million cwt., down 17.2 percent from 2010's figure of 128.7 cwt. The 106.5 million cwt. would represent the lowest level of April 1 stocks since 1991.

If the decline in storage potatoes continues through the remainder of the season Idaho would have only 500,000 cwt. for shipment in August, almost 80 percent less than it shipped in 2010. In years past Idaho has normally shipped between 1.7 million cwt. to 2.7 million cwt. The evidence points to a tight market supply for the rest of the storage season.

The potential shortage of storage stock later in the season could result in early harvests to meet demand by August.

FMC Corp.
FMC Corp. recently announced a new registration for its Brigadier insecticide. It is now approved for at-plant use in potatoes. Brigadier controls soil insects while providing systemic control of foliar insects.

Brigadier is a new at-plant option that offers protection against soil insects such as wireworms while also systemically controlling foliar insects including aphids, Colorado potato beetles and leafhoppers, according to the company. The insecticide provides residual control for prolonged crop protection against sucking and chewing insects. Brigadier also makes an excellent resistance management partner and may be applied in tank mixtures.

A dual-action insecticide for potatoes, Brigadier currently is approved for use in 43 states.

Application methods include ground, aerial and chemigation.

For more information visit www.FMCcrop.com.
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