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To everything there is a season

The harvest dust has settled, there’s a definite chill in the air and the sun is hanging low on the southern horizon. Now we settle in for the cold, long nights of winter.

Those long nights are a good time to review overall performance and audit the books for the year past and begin making preparations for the coming year. Reports coming in from the USDA show that growers kept their fall production in check this year, producing 32.2 million cwt. less than in 2009, the lowest level in 20 years.

This fall’s lower yields appear to have helped the fresh market find stable pricing and better returns for growers.

On the other hand, growers in the process sector are finding 2010 to be a tough year with decreased yields and lower size profiles are hitting them right in the pocketbook.

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Fresh market bounces back in 2010

Did you hear that deep sigh of relief from the fresh market sector? Fresh market growers and shippers are breathing a little easier this fall. With the current market prices more than double the 2009 prices growers are enjoying the fresh market renaissance.

The fall production report from the USDA/NASS, released on Nov. 9, shows a 8 percent decrease nationally from the 2009 crop and is the smallest crop in 20 years.

The increase in the Grower Return Index (GRI) for the fresh market sector can be found in the law of supply and demand. One of the most fundamental laws of economics and probably the most basic of laws governing agricultural production. It comes up in every conversation with growers and marketers about current pricing.

“A little bit of supply and demand. Basic economic principles,” said Kevin Stanger, vice-president of sales for Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC. “We just grew less this year.”

Stanger said now the problem facing growers and shippers is to meet demand without overwhelming the market with supply.

“Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemy. Even when we have an average crop because we think we need to go out and get all this business and in doing so we don’t have the strength or mental capacity to just say, "You know, if we just slow down a little bit, there’s enough spuds to get us through.’ You don’t need to get crazy, let’s hold the price. Last year we had a record crop. We got it moved and not only that, at the end of the season we even saw the price go up. I think that goes to prove we don’t have to sell cheap and we don’t have to overproduce,” he said.

Echoing Kevin Stanger’s analysis was Idaho grower Randy Hardy, with Sun Valley Potato growers and a member of the Spudman editorial board.

“This year, the number acre-wise looked a lot better,” Hardy said. “Idaho’s crop came in average, maybe a little below size profile.”

Hardy said that the early crop that goes directly to market was off a little so the fresh market wasn’t flooded with inventory.

Now, as the storage inventory begins entering the market, Hardy’s advice is to hold back and not rush your sales.

“We don’t need to give this crop away, we’re not out to hang anybody but there’s no sense in killing ourselves over trying to get to market now when it could be good all year,” he said.

 

Market Report: NASS releases 2010 seasonal statistics

National potato production for the 2010 fall season fell 8 percent according to the crop production report released by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service on Nov. 9.

Of the seven major potato producing states, North Dakota showed the only significant increase with 16.5 percent. Maine increased 1 percent, while the remaining five showed decreases: 18 percent in Minnesota, 14 percent in Idaho, 12 percent in Wisconsin, Oregon with 7 percent and Washington with a 6 percent decrease.

Russet Burbank led all varieties in percentage of planted acres with 59.3 percent, Russet Norkotah was second with 14 percent and Ranger Russet was third with 12.8 percent.

Currently the fresh Russet market seems to be holding steady with reports of Grower Return Index between $7.93 and $10.02 in the major growing areas.

A tight supply in the process sector may bode well for any grower with surplus potatoes in storage this spring.

Given the lower total production numbers, Bruce Huffaker's North American Potato Market News stated that shippers cannot maintain current pace and that a fresh market shortage could ensue later in the year.

 

Product Highlight: Senniger Irrigation

Senniger Irrigation recently introduced a new product line called Universal Pivot Product Platform, UP3. The new features of this nozzle design have been applied to the Senniger’s i-Wob, Xi-Wob and LDN technologies.

The UP3 nozzle is an easy-clean, easy-change design. Just pinch and pull to remove the nozzle, place and click to re-install. The UP3 nozzle sizes are color-coded and embossed on the ears, including half sizes. They are universal to the i-Wob, Xi-Wob and LDN.

Each applicator can be installed directly into a pressure regulator or onto a standard three-quarter-inch NPT female connection with no special threads or fittings required.

Installations requiring two different flows from the same sprinkler package to match crop needs, a dual nozzle carrier offers the same pinch and pull, easy change feature.