U.S. Potato Acres To Rise 3.4 Per Cent: NAPM

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Potato plants growing in a field
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The North American Potato Market News (NAPM) is predicting potato acres in the United States will rise by 31,000 acres this year to 952,000, marking a 3.4 per cent increase, the March 24 issue of NAPM says. This still however would be 1.2 per cent below the 2019 acreage. Processing potatoes increases in Washington, Idaho, and Maine account for most of the estimated rise.

“We expect several other growing areas to increase planted acres this spring — however, the total potato area will likely remain below the 2019 crop. Planted acres declined during 2020 with the onset of the pandemic,” the report says.

Most fryers are targeting 90 to 95 per cent of 2019 contract volumes in the Columbia Basin and Idaho this year. McCain Foods is the exception though as they are ramping up contracted acreage in the Columbia Basin. This is to supply a new production line scheduled to start operations in December.

“Processors may be moving closer to 2019 contract volumes in other parts of the country. Some growers might not be able to fine tune acreage to match this year’s contract volume changes.”

To date growers have been showing little interest in reducing Russet table potato acres, NAPM notes. Despite prices being lower than they were a year ago when table potato demand spiked during the initial COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in North America, growers are hoping prices will rebound. Potential spillover from the processing industry, improving yields and pack-out rate, will see prices remain weak this marketing year.

NAPM is expecting yellow potato acres will increase this year. Several growing areas have saw shifts from red to yellow varieties.

“Yellow potatoes have displaced much of the round white table potato crop in recent years. They are starting to displace red potatoes, and to some extent, Russets,” the report notes.

Chip potato acres could be down slightly this year with the cuts mostly happening in northern Florida. Contract volumes in most other growing areas are flat. Supplies from last year’s crop have been more than adequate despite increased demand driven by the pandemic and crop problems in some eastern growing areas, NAPM says.

Chip potato acreage could be down somewhat in 2021. The cuts are primarily in north Florida. Contract volumes in other growing areas are mostly flat. Supplies from the 2020 crop have been more than adequate despite increased demand driven by the pandemic and crop problems in some eastern growing areas, NAPM notes.

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