Red River Valley Market Good, Movement Slow

Published online: Jan 02, 2017 Potato Harvesting, Potato Storage Tad Thompson, The Produce News
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Potato storages operated by the co-op Associated Potato Growers Inc. were about 70 percent full after the 2016 harvest ended Nov. 18, according to Paul Dolan, who manages the cooperative from offices in Grand Forks, N.D.

Dolan said some red potato growers around Grand Forks had full storages, meaning full crops for the year. But most of the Red River Valley growers were not that fortunate. Around Grafton, growers produced just over half a crop; a few unfortunate growing areas had less than half.

“It will be a good year for the guys who have potatoes,” Dolan said. “The markets are decent. Movement is slow, but we don’t need a lot of movement because we’re down on hundredweight.”

On Nov. 22, Dolan indicated f.o.b. prices on B sizes were $30 per hundredweight. A’s sat at about $20.

“That is high, historically. It is not normally that high unless we are short,” said Dolan. “But there is a big crop of russets in the West that is selling so cheap it is affecting our movement, for sure. Retailers are not featuring reds at all.”

Dolan added that the Red River Valley’s red potatoes “are still a good buy for consumers.” Asked to rate the season on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being ideal, Dolan settled on a rating of 60 to 70.

“The reason is that guys who have potatoes stand to do quite well,” he said. “But for the ones who left a lot in the ground, that’s not so good. We are a cooperative. Without growers we don’t exist.”

With poor commodity prices beyond poor potato yields, Dolan says it could be a tough year for growers.

 

Source: The Produce News