As they continue moving a 2012 crop marked by overproduction and dismal prices, Idaho potato growers see reasons for guarded optimism about their next harvest.
A cool spring has delayed crop emergence throughout much of potato country, and most Idaho growers anticipate there will be at least a slight reduction in planted acreage this season. Furthermore, Idaho potato shipments to date are more than 2.23 million cwt ahead of last year's pace, making room for the next crop.
Though consumer bag prices remain depressed, Idaho carton prices have risen steadily for the past six weeks. Prices of 70-count cartons of Idaho potatoes-mostly in the $9 to $9.50 range-have more than doubled since Jan. 2.
From mid-May through July 1, United Potato Growers of America will physically count potato acreage throughout Idaho and Wisconsin, in the Columbia and Klamath basins of Oregon and Washington, in the San Luis Valley of Colorado and in a few other test areas.
The numbers will be published on July 11, when USDA also makes its acreage projections.
SOURCE: John O'Connell, Capital Press