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Fall Potato Production up 2 Percent from 2005

Production of fall potatoes for 2006 is forecast at 391 million cwt., up 2 percent from last year, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Area harvested, at 976,900 acres, is virtually unchanged from the July estimate but 3 percent above last year. The average yield is forecast at 400 cwt. per acre, 3 cwt. below last year's record high.

Western states production is forecast at 265 million cwt., down 2 percent from last year. Area harvested, at 608,000 acres, increased 1 percent from last year but the average yield of 436 cwt. per acre is down 13 cwt. from 2005. Idaho's total potato forecast, at 122 million cwt., is 3 percent above last year. Yield is forecast at 371 cwt. per acre, up 5 cwt. from last year. If realized this would be the second highest yield on record, 3 cwt. below the record yield set in 2004. Growers had sufficient irrigation supplies during the growing season. Production in Washington is forecast at 89.9 million cwt., 6 percent below last year. If realized, this will be the lowest production since 1997. High temperatures, strong winds, torrential downpours and frost have all contributed to lower yields than last year in Washington.

Colorado’s production is expected to decline 1 percent from 2005, and yields are down 15 cwt. per acre. Unusually wet and cool growing conditions along with early hail hampered crop development, lowering yields and reducing tuber sizes. Oregon's production is forecast to be down 16 percent. This is due mainly to yield dropping 64 cwt. per acre from the record high set in 2005. In California, production is forecast to be up 14 percent. Good weather allowed growers to plant earlier than in 2005 and drier conditions resulted in larger tuber size and higher yields. In Montana, production is expected to be down 1 percent but crop quality is reported to be good. Nevada growers expect a 20 percent increase in production. This is due to increases in planted and harvested acres, which more than offset a decrease in yield. New Mexico's production is expected to be up 19 percent from last year due to an increase in harvested acres.

Central states production is forecast at 98.5 million cwt., up 11 percent from last year. Harvested area, at 277,400 acres, is up 7 percent, while average yields, at 355 cwt. per acre, are up 11 cwt. from a year ago. Wisconsin's production is forecast at 28.7 million cwt., a 3 percent increase from last year. Cool nights aided growth and quality of the tubers. North Dakota's production is expected to increase 27 percent due to a 20 percent increase in harvested acres and a 15 cwt. per acre increase in yield. Growers experienced very little flooding and mostly favorable growing conditions in comparison to the previous year. Minnesota production is forecast to be 16 percent above last year. Drier conditions have allowed harvest to progress ahead of last year. In Nebraska, production is expected to be up 5 percent from last season due to yield increasing 25 cwt. per acre. Ohio production is expected to be 15 percent above last year. An 80 cwt. per acre increase in yield more than offset a 14 percent decrease in harvested acres. Michigan production is expected to decline 1 percent from 2005. Michigan is the only state in the central states that is expected to decrease. Dry weather late in the season limited some yields and cool wet weather during harvest significantly slowed progress.

Eastern states production is forecast at 27.4 million cwt., up 13 percent from last year. Area for harvest totaled 91,500 acres, 1 percent above last year, while the average yield, at 299 cwt. per acre, is up 31 cwt. from last season. Maine production is forecast at 18 million cwt., 16 percent above 2005. Excellent growing and harvesting conditions resulted in a high yielding, high quality crop. Yield is expected to be 310 cwt. per acre. If realized, this will match the record high yield set in 2004. Growers in New York expect production to be up 9 percent. An increase in yield more than offset a decrease in harvested acres. Wet fields have slowed harvest and may result in some not being harvested. Pennsylvania production is forecast at 2 percent above last year. Heavy rains have slowed harvesting. Massachusetts and Rhode Island expect production to increase 21 percent and 19 percent, respectively. Excessive rains in both states provided less than optimal growing conditions but conditions were still better than in 2005.

Total U.S. potato production in 2006 from all four seasons is estimated at 435 million cwt., up 3 percent from last year. Harvested area, at 1.12 million acres, increased 3 percent from a year ago. Yield, averaging 389 cwt. per acre, is down 1 cwt. from last year.

Originally posted Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006

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