No Diversion Planned This Year

Published online: May 27, 2003
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.Despite falling prices for fresh potato supplies the Potato Management Company decided in a meeting not to pursue a potato stocks diversion plan for the 2002 crop.

A hard frost on May 19-20 that blackened early potatoes in southern and western Idaho, coupled with a significant downward adjustment made by the USDA to the May 1 stocks report, convinced PMC there was no need for a plan.

The group includes a broad representation of independent Idaho growers and growers/shippers.

The frost will probably set the Idaho crop back by as much as two weeks. Early fresh and processing potatoes in southwestern Idaho and in the Treasure Valley of western Idaho and eastern Oregon were severely frozen.

The market was anticipating new-crop potatoes by mid-July. The setback has shifted demand to potatoes remaining in storage and prices are starting an upward movement.

Another factor increasing demand has been recent increase purchases made by french fry processing companies. Known as “open” purchases, the processors are in the market competing with fresh potato packers to meet raw-product needs. When this happens, market prices generally improve.

Still a third factor is the fact the U.S. dollar is weakening which is expected to make domestic potatoes more competitive for export.

With an expected over abundance of potatoes from the 2003 crop, the group will meet in mid-July after the annual acreage report is made. They plan to meet again next November when the production estimates are made.