Mike Telford, Telford Seed

Market Report

Spudnik Tow-N-Track

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Tough Measures

Is there ever a moment when a farmer can sit back, take a deep breath and relax? If there is I'm sure that moment has come and gone. A distant memory from sometime back in 2009 perhaps.

Even here in the middle of January, growers across the nation are attending the myriad expos, conferences and seminars. Ordering their seed, making decisions on how many acres to plant and placing orders for their inputs, fertilizer, fungicides, herbicides and insecticides.

In these days of declining demand and over abundance in the potato industry a successful farmer also needs to be clairvoyant to anticipate how the various markets will play out in 2010.

Will it be wheat or alfalfa, mint or sugar beets? Is it going to be the rotation crop that proves to be your money crop this coming year?

One fact is certain. These are difficult and challenging times. As Bruce Huffaker said at his presentation in Orlando at the 2010 National Potato Expo, "We are facing a very challenging environment in the potato market."

Tough times require tough measures if the market is to find the necessary balance between supply and demand and growers and shippers.


Mike Telford
Telfords Sun Valley Seed


Market Report

Bruce Huffaker, publisher of the North American Potato Market News, didn't pull any punches during his presentation on the 2010 supply outlook in the fresh sector at the 2010 National Potato Expo in Orlando last week.

Huffaker's message was simple and succinct: The potato industry is facing long-term challenges that will require decisive action across all sectors of the industry.

"We are facing a very challenging environment in the potato market," Huffaker said. "Unless we do something very dramatic it's not going to end very quickly."

Huffaker said that the major problem for potato growers is that demand for potatoes has been in decline for the past 10 years at a rate of 1 percent per year.

"That's not on a per capita basis, that's on a total basis for North American potatoes," Huffaker said. "That's not just a U.S. thing, it extends into Canada."

In 1998, total acreage of potatoes peaked at 1.8 million acres. If the trend continues Huffaker predicted that acreage would drop to 1.1 million acres by 2020 and if the trend accelerates acreage will be down to 1 million acres.

Huffaker said the decline is not only in the fresh market but includes french fries and dehy products. The chip market is stable as opposed to declining but that the chip decline may be accelerating. A prospect that Huffaker advises all growers should be developing strategies to circumvent.

Part of the problem is that as consumption declines growers' yields are increasing. Huffaker foresees a continuing clash between declining demand and the increasing yields that will eventually force acreage out of production. Either voluntarily or by the natural forces of economics and the laws of supply and demand.

Huffaker warned that cutting back on acreage planted for 2010 may not be enough to stabilize the market.

"In the long term, growers need to make strategic plans so that they can position themselves to survive and prosper in the future. You need to plan as if demand is going to continue to decline," he said.

He advised everyone to work with the industry to reverse the demand and to recognize that this is a global market that growers must be able to compete.


Spudnik Tow-N-Track

For 2010 Spudnik has introduced the Tow-N-Track in its product line. The Tow-N-Track enables any 3-point semi-mounted implement to be guided through the field by GPS. The Tow-N-Track is able to support a 40,000-pound implement. The Tow-N-Track comes with a standard 3-point hitch with an optional category 3 quick hitch and has an adjustable axle to accommodate most row widths.