Sep 27, 2016
Rain shuts down Red River Valley harvest

Just when some growers were beginning to make some progress, Mother Nature stepped in and slammed the door.  Rainfall amounts over the weekend varied but generally ranged around three-quarters of an inch to a few reports topping two and a half inches.
As of Monday morning no potatoes were being harvested between Hillsboro and the Canadian border in North Dakota. but with the favorable forecast, some growers like Brian Folson near East Grand Forks hope to get back at it by mid-week. For others it will take much longer, if at all.
With losses already projected to top 30 percent before the weekend rain, prices had responded with #1 size A reds selling for $20 per hundredweight in totes. Last year at this time that tote price was $11.
Steve Tweten at NoKota Packers says, “Expect russets to be getting most of the retail ads and promotions this winter.”   Russets will once again be plentiful, in fact the North American Potato Market News expects Idaho to produce 7.3 million hundredweight more potatoes than they did last year.  But with the Red River Valley being the top red potato producer in the country, Tweten expects red supplies to be tight and prices high through the fall crop storage season.
Tweten thinks Florida is may plant a few more reds for spring harvest to take advantage of the attractive prices, but land availability and a seed shortage will limit expansion.  Red seed potatoes have been lost in North Dakota, a key source for Florida growers.
The USDA-NASS Crop Progress and Condition Report issued Monday afternoon now indicates the potato harvest has fallen considerably behind in both North Dakota and Minnesota.  Only 28 percent of the potatoes have been harvested in North Dakota compared to 51 last year and the 5 year average of 37 percent.  In Minnesota 52 percent of potatoes are harvested compared to 60 last year and the 5 year average of 61.
Standing water continues to degrade the condition of potatoes also with 39 percent of the potatoes in North Dakota now rated poor or very poor, with 28 percent fair, 27 percent good and 6 percent excellent. Minnesota did not release  a condition report.
— Ted Kreis, NPPGA Potato Bytes
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