Potato movement good, but transportation a concern for Red River Valley shippers
Ted Kreis, marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, said “movement is going well.” USDA figures show “for the week ending Dec. 6 that 124,000 hundredweight of Red River Valley potatoes had been shipped. “This is up 18 percent this year over the previous year. And it’s more than 2012 and 2011 too,” Kreis added.
For 2014 as a whole volume is up despite the fact that the crop started two weeks later than in 2013. “We’ve made up the difference in the late start,” he said.
The Red River Valley produced somewhat fewer yellow potatoes than last year, but Kreis said these are “insignificant” numbers. Red potato production was up somewhat.
“The quality was much better” in the 2014 crop, he noted. “We had more potatoes and better quality.” In December the stocks on hand were the same volume “but there will be less shrink” in the pack-out.
“We were late planting, which cut into the yields, which were average.” Yields overall in the valley were spotty, with some growers having greater yield and others less than a year ago. “Overall it evened out.”
David Moquist, a potato grower-packer-shipper and secretary-treasurer of Crystal, ND-based O.C. Schulz, is pleased by movement into December.
Paul Dolan, manager of Associated Potato Growers Inc., based in Grand Forks, ND, did not see “a lot of Christmas boost” for his potato crop. He added that Associated’s potatoes “are storing and keeping well. There are no frost issues.”
Dolan noted that Associated’s total potato volume is down from a year ago, but the saleable volume is up because of high packouts due to excellent quality.
Small-sized Russet potatoes produced in Idaho and Washington in 2014 have brought down the market and created competition for Red River Valley red potatoes. “This has hurt prices,” Dolan said. He expected the market will improve in January because Wisconsin shippers will have finished most of their shipping and Florida’s spring growers are not expected to have the volume produced a year ago.