Published online: Oct 14, 2011 Potato Storage, Potato Harvesting, Seed Potatoes
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Last year's potato prices in Idaho hit record highs, but left people with a fear that this year's crop would see a big price drop, and it did.

The prices are definitely a lot lower than last year, but it would have been incredibly hard to match those numbers. An early September frost severely hurt the numbers of potatoes and hiked up the price. But growers say even though numbers are down this year, it's not time to start worrying.

Local potato producer James Hoff is a fourth-generation potato grower and enjoyed the big price hike last year. "It's nice as a potato grower to have a decent return for a change," said Hoff.

This year it's a different story. The summer potatoes peaked at about $16, a record high. This October, it's more than half the prices at $7.25 and is down 25 cents from a few weeks ago. But growers say the price is more likely between $5-$7, unless there was an outstanding crop.

"If you had a really nice, beautiful potato crop you could see just over 7 dollars which is about break even," said Hoff. With prices so high last year, it wasn't a surprise to see this drop.

"The fluctuation from this year to last year was substantial, but we expected it because last season was such a good pricing year," said Todd Cornelison, Industry Relations Director for the Idaho Potato Commission.

"It's pretty standard for the agriculture industry, especially the potato industry, to have highs and lows like this," said Hoff. But even with prices going down, the crop is looking good. "Good quality crop, good size profile, for the markets, we're really excited about this year," said Cornelison.

Assuming they harvest all the potatoes before there is too much rain. But overall, the year should come out strong. "Good crop, should return a small profit this year," said Hoff. The potato year has only just begun so there is still plenty of room for these prices to continue to fluctuate.

In order for growers to break even the price needs to stay about $6-$7 but ideally over $7.

SOURCE: Local News 8