Wisconsin Potato Outlook is Strong
“The crop is currently fantastic,” Mike Carter, the chief executive officer of Bushman’s Inc., said of Wisconsin’s potato crop on Aug. 19. “The size profile is excellent. We’ve had near-perfect growing conditions in the fields. It was a temperate summer. There was no long period of heat. The rains have been timely. It’s all positive.”
Carter said that Wisconsin’s potato acreage is similar to last year on the fresh side, while processing and chip acreage was somewhat up.
Carter cautioned, “It is still August” and digging will continue into the fall. “Rain or heat could still effect the crop. We’re certainly optimistic but we have a ways to go.” While new crop shipping was underway in August, much of the Wisconsin crop was going into storage. When all of the crop was either sold or in storage in October, “then we can sleep well.”
Tamas Houlihan, the executive director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association indicated; “We have had a very good growing season. There has been plenty of moisture.” Growers started planting in April, which was more than two weeks ahead of schedule. This was an advantage over a “very cold” spring in 2014.
Wisconsin potato yields will be average and I believe the quality will be very, very good,” Houlihan said. “We have good color on our yellows and reds and Wisconsin seems to be growing more niche potatoes like fingerlings, yellow and specialty potatoes. These are faring very well and we’ve had a good growing season, although there is still a ways to go” until the harvest is completed.
Of the national potato crop this fall, Carter said, “I see this year shaping up a lot similar to last year. Idaho has bigger sizes, so the premium we got for large potatoes may not be as great as last year. There will be plenty of potatoes to go around. We won’t know until they’re all in storage but it looks like everybody’s crop has gone well. There will be enough to fill the storages. Nationally, you will see a lot of promotions early in reaction to the large volume. If we sell enough early, it could mean a possibility of maybe we have stronger prices later in the season.”
Wisconsin’s early varieties — red and round whites — started to be harvested in mid- to late July. In mid-August, Houlihan said Wisconsin Russets would be started in late August. “The early Russets have excellent quality,” Houlihan said. “The vast majority” of the state’s potato crop will be harvested in September.
– Tad Thompson, The Produce News