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Are US Russet potatoes down across the country?While local Washington potatoes seem to have settled into a crop-size similar to 2016’s, suspicions are across the country that the Russet potato supply is down somewhat.
“We grow close to the same every year--we might switch it up between the colours--but we’re hearing that acreages across the country are down somewhat,” says Dale Hayton of Valley Pride Northwest Produce in Mount Vernon, Wa, who adds that the Washington market is starting about a week late this year thanks to a wet planting season. “Particularly the Russets—we’re hearing those acres are off a pretty significant number.”
Russet potatoes are the highest volume item in the potato category. “But that tightening of supply really helps the other potatoes in the rest of the category,” says Hayton.
Other crops on the rise
Hayton thinks there are a few reasons to the smaller supply this year of Russets. “Russets have been pretty cheap for quite a few years and so I think a lot of the banks have tightened up credit for growers who want to grow those,” he says. “So they looked for alternative crops such as chickpeas. Those acreages have increased quite a lot in the last year or two. The alternatives are cheaper to grow and there’s just less risk.”
Not surprisingly then, prices are up slightly on other varieties. “The coloured potatoes are up about 10-15 per cent and some of the real specialty types are up even more than that,” Hayton says.
Pricing may hold
That said, Hayton believes pricing will stay steady. “We’re pulling into the fall and it has better potato demand than the summer months,” he says. “We think the price level will hold—I don’t expect the market to go up unless harvest conditions get extremely tough or something triggered a supply shortage.”
For more information:
Valley Pride Northwest Produce
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