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Fall Potato Production Up Less than 1 Percent from November

Production of fall potatoes for 2007 is forecast at 409 million cwt., up less than 1 percent from last month and 3 percent above last year, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Area harvested, at 997,600 acres, is virtually unchanged from November but up 1 percent from last year. The average yield is forecast at 410 cwt. per acre, up 1 cwt. from last month and 4 cwt. above the record high set last year.

Western states production is forecast at 288 million cwt., up 6 percent from last year. Area harvested, at 642,000 acres, increased 4 percent from last year and the average yield of 449 cwt. per acre is up 6 cwt. from 2006. Idaho's yield is forecast at 377 cwt. per acre. If realized this would be the second highest yield on record, 9 cwt below the record yield set in 2006.

Hot weather during the summer reduced the quality of the crop. Incidences of Potato Virus Y were more frequent than normal, which adversely affected yields. In Washington, harvest progressed normally this year. The quality of the crop is acceptable but not as good as in previous years. In Colorado, a severe windstorm followed by a late freeze in mid-June damaged plants that were already emerged. The earlier planted crop was slow to recover from the damage, leading to increased yield variability. Oregon's crop progressed at a normal pace with no major problems reported. In California, favorable weather conditions resulted in excellent crop quality and yields.

Central states production is forecast at 96 million cwt., down 3 percent from last year. Harvested area, at 267,000 acres, is down 4 percent, while the average yield, at 359 cwt. per acre, is up 2 cwt. from a year ago. Overall, the Wisconsin crop progressed ahead of normal. Growers reported a good quality crop with harvest completed on time or early. In North Dakota, crop condition was rated fair to good throughout the growing season. Michigan’s and Minnesota's yields are forecast at 350 cwt. and 440 cwt. per acre, respectively. If realized, these would be record high yields.

Eastern states production is forecast at 24.9 million cwt., down 9 percent from last year. Area for harvest totaled 88,600 acres, 3 percent below last year, while the average yield, at 281 cwt. per acre, is down 18 cwt. from last season. In Maine, excellent growing and harvesting conditions resulted in a high yielding, high quality crop. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, above average temperatures and below average precipitation forced growers in many locations to irrigate. New York planted acreage is at the lowest level since estimates began in 1929.

Originally posted Monday, Dec. 17, 2007

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