Planting Intentions In Limbo

Published online: Apr 09, 2003
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Idaho growers had planted 1 percent of its potatoes by April 6 this year compared to 2 percent at the same date last year.

This report from the Idaho Agricultural Statistics Service signals big changes in potato planting. Because of cutbacks on processor contracts that will reportedly go across the industry, growers are still in limbo on planting intentions.

Idaho’s Southwest area had planted 17 percent of its crop by April 6 as compared to 13 percent last year. These figures compare to the district’s average of 9 percent by that date.

In South Central Idaho, only 1 percent of that region’s potatoes had been planted by April 6 as compared to 2 percent last year and 6 percent as an average by the date.

In a straw poll conducted by Potato Grower magazine, most respondents believe the lack of irrigation water and dry weather will have a greater impact on this year’s United States crop than any other factor. As of April 6, 76 percent of the Idaho’s water supplies were in fair to very poor condition.

However, Potato Growers of Idaho has received confirmation that Simplot Food Group is cutting contracts by 40 percent. PGI estimates cuts could total 25,000 acres in the Magic Valley, with Simplot’s 20,000 and 5,000 by McCain Foods.

PGI is encouraging process growers to contact them with input as to what effect this will have and what can be done about it. PGI says current market conditions can be attributed to a number of factors such as: a directionless economy, war, QSR losses, QSR promotion shifts, consumer buying patterns, the obesity problem, and the reverse in Pacific Rim trade. PGI may be e-mailed at or phoned at (208) 785-1110.

PGI is cautioning growers from Jerome, ID, to Prince Edward Island, Canada, that if they don’t make acreage reductions to match needs, consequences could be disastrous.