Northwest potato shipments will be down this season from Oregon due to drought, and from Washington state because of too much rain. The COVID-19 virus also plays a role.
Washington and Oregon rank second and third, respectively, among the 50 states in potato production, with processing accounting for as much as 90 percent of shipments. Demand is reported strong, for both processed and fresh product.
An estimated 80 to 85 of Oregon grown spuds go to processing, and the hard hit foodservice industry has affected all potato growers in the Northwest and the nation.
Riverside Potato Inc. of Merrill, OR reports no snow pack, and a lack of rain resulting in 300,000 to 330,000 acre feet of water being cut to 140,000. The result is the company estimating it will be down 30 to 35 percent in potato acreage in the valley this season.
Riverside will ship product from 200 to 250 acres this year, compared to 550 to 580 acres a year ago.
Wong Potatoes Inc. of Klamath Falls, OR reports drought conditions were worse than any since 2006. Last season, the operation planted over 900 acres, compared to this year, which totals a little over 600 acres.
To the north in the Columbia Basin, along the Washington-Oregon border, rainfall wasn’t a problem, but acreage likely will be down, according to Potandon Produce of Idaho Falls, ID.
Overall, Potandon sees its fresh potato loadings basically being down, although volume might be up slightly in August. However, September and October, product coming out of storage will definitely be up lower.
In Northwest Washington, Valley Pride Sales of Burlington, WA has had too much rain.
The USDA says production in 2019 totaled 11.6 million pounds, compared to 11.3 million in 2018. Potatoes in storage accounted for 17 percent of 2019 production, compared to 18 percent a year earlier.
Oregon production in 2019 totaled 2.82 million pounds, compared to 3.02 million in 2019. Potatoes in storage accounted for 14 percent, unchanged from the previous year.
Northwest region potatoes remaining to be shipped out of storage on June 1, 2020, totaled 5.3 billion pounds.
June 1 potato stocks in Oregon totaled 403 million pounds. Shipments to date was 2.41 billion pounds. In Washington, June 1 potato in storage totaled 1.97 billion pounds. Loadings to date totaled 85.6 million cwt., or 9.6 billion pounds.
Nationally, the 13 major potato states held 7.5 billion pounds on June 1, 2020, down 4 percent from last year.
Potatoes in storage accounted for 16 percent of the states’ 2019 production, compared with 17 percent for a year earlier.
Potato diggings have just got underway, which is normal.
Following Labor Day, growers will be putting some product in storage and still pack out of the field. Packing out of the field continues until October 10. Potandon will finish on a Friday, packing old crop, and start a new crop Monday or Tuesday and continue on with the crop out of the field. The company then switches into storage and continues to the next July.
South Basin Packing of Gresham, OR notes the crop is coming along for shipments to retailers, although foodservice is certainly down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Norman Nelson Inc. (Double-N Potatoes) of Mount Vernon, WA reports acreage in the Skagit Valley, whose season will start around September 1, appeared to be about normal. Acreage is expected to be similar to a year ago.