Market Condition Alert: Idaho Potatoes
Last week, Idaho experienced an extended stretch of freezing temperatures which will have significant impact on the crop. Nighttime low temperatures were in the teens last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Daytime temperatures were hovering around freezing or below on those same days. Pulp temperatures dropped into the high 20’s and low 30’s.
All crews have been working non-stop since last Monday to get the remaining crop harvested and put into storage, in an effort to salvage as much as possible. Most packing facilities were planning on utilizing field-run potatoes until next week, but due to the cold, that option is no longer viable. Conversely, most of the potatoes in storage are still going through the suberization (sweat) process and are not ready to ship.
What we know is that approximately 20-30% of the russet table-stock crop was still in the ground as of last Monday. Growers made a herculean effort to harvest as much as possible before the freeze hit and get those potatoes under cover.
We estimate that about half of those acres were dug before the freeze, but not at optimal temperatures. Since then, most sheds have not been running due to raw product shortages. The market has risen and it is expected to increase as growers assess the overall damage and marketability of the potatoes harvested during the extreme cold. The state is currently in an oversold position; likely worse than anyone has seen in thirty years.