Posts Tagged “Red River Valley potato shipments”
By Ted Kreis – Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, Communications
For the first time all year, fresh potato shipments from the Red River Valley are meeting or exceeding last year’s numbers. Shipments had been running at about two-thirds of last year’s pace until the pandemic broke and consumers abandoned restaurants for eating at home.
Because of large crop losses last fall, prices for red and yellow potatoes from the valley have been higher all year which has slowed shipments to extend the shipping season accordingly. But in mid-March fresh shipments from the Red River Valley exceeded last year for the first time all season. This past week shipments were up nearly 20 percent compared to last year, all this as supplies dwindle in the Red River Valley.
Meanwhile, there has been an opposite effect on the frozen potato market which is highly dependent on foodservice business, which includes restaurants. With restaurant business mostly disappearing with the exception of drive-thru business, stockpiles of frozen fries is backing up causing huge cuts in 2020 contracted acres and much uncertainty going forward. This could also have a trickledown effect on the fresh market this fall if russet supplies in the Northwest are diverted to fresh.
In the U.S., processors are cutting, eliminating or delaying contracts but its not just happening here, this is a worldwide problem. In Western Europe, several potato processing units are shutting down totally or partially. Throughout the European northwest, the industry is calling for a reduction in planting areas as it now expects a huge surplus of fries in storage. One estimate is that the Dutch potato sector has 1 million metric tons of surplus processing potatoes at the current time. In France, an estimated 500,000 tons of potatoes cannot be processed.
We have never seen anything happen to the entire world like what is happening now so there is no playbook or roadmap to economic recovery. However one thing is certain, the world will always have to be fed, and potatoes will help lead the way. We just don’t know how that will look.
(This article appeared in Potato Bytes, an online publication by the NPPGA)
Summary by North American Potato Market News
Expect fewer potato shipments from the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota this season.
North Dakota- Growers abandoned 15,000 acres of North Dakota’s 2019 potato crop. That is 1,000 acres more than the November estimate. In addition, USDA reduced its estimate of the state’s average yield to 350 cwt per acre from 355 cwt. That reduced the 2019 crop estimate to 20.30 million cwt, a 645,000 cwt decline. The 2019 crop is down 3.43 million cwt, or 14.4 percent, from the 2018 crop (largest percentage drop in the country). Some of the crop was compromised during harvest, which will result in additional storage losses.
Minnesota – Production is estimated at 18.04 million cwt. That is 665,000 cwt, or 3.6 percent less than Minnesota’s 2018 crop. Minnesota is the only state whose 2019 crop estimate was not adjusted in January. That is a major shift from recent years when USDA has made massive adjustments to the state’s crop estimate.
U.S. Fall Crop – The total U.S. fall crop was adjusted upwards by 439,000 cwt. which is just a 0.1 percent increase. Even with that, the total U.S. fall crop is down nearly 9 million cwt. compared to 2018, or 2.1 percent.
Heavy rains followed by freezing cold weather created the perfect storm during the growing and harvest season in the Red River Valley. As a result, fresh potato shipments from North Dakota and Minnesota could be slashed by more than 50 percent.
With the close of October , the Red River Valley potato harvest was basically shot down.
The Northern Plain Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN reports there were several days of freezing temperatures, probably ruining in potatoes left in the fields.. Industry observers are estimating shipments may down down by 45 to 55 percent. Additionally shipments could be over sometime in February, weeks ahead of a more normal season.
Shippers are expected to take care of their long-standing customers first, Some packing sheds are operating at partial capacity and running only a few days a week.
The Red River Valley accounted for about 25 percent of the U.S. red potato shipments last season.
In a turn around from a year ago Red River Valley potato grower-shippers in North Dakota and Minnesota anticipate plenty of potato loads for hauling this season. It would be a terrific improvement for both growers, shippers and truckers from a rain-soaked 2016 season.
Last year during the 2017 growing season, dry soil made growing and harvesting difficult although the abundant rainfall from 2016 had created good planting conditions. The result was a 30 percent drop in potato shipments.
A couple of timely downpours this past September helped the digging get started on time.
The Red River Valley potato harvest generally runs for about six weeks in September and October, with shipments typically lasting through spring.
The Red River Valley includes about 80,000 acres in North Dakota and 45,000 in Minnesota. Potato volume for the fresh market typically totals about 7 million hundredweight (cwt).
A significant change in the valley this season is formation of H & S FreshPak in Hoople, ND, a new company created when J.G. Hall & Sons of Hoople and O.C. Schulz & Sons Inc. of Crystal, ND, who purchased Northern Valley Growers of Hoople and changed the name to H & S.
Truck availability has been a concern in the valley this season, a situation that has a history. Due to the low population of North Dakota, getting loads into the valley is often a challenge. Other factors such as the recovery from hurricanes in Texas and Florida hasn’t helped the availability of trucks.
The valley has over 250 growers producing more than 40 million cwt. of potatoes annually, with about 17 percent of the product shipped to the fresh market. The region is the third largest potato growing area in the U.S.
Yellow variety potatoes continue to increase in popularity, mostly at the expense of Russets and whites, neither of which valley growers have produced in a number of years.
While U.S. red potato shipments increased about 14 percent between 2009 – 2015, white potato shipments plunged 43.3 percent.
The co-op Associated Potato Growers Inc. of Grand Forks, ND continues to be the valley’s largest potato shipper. Of the dozen wash plants in the valley, two of the other largest shippers are NoKota Packers, Inc. of Buxton, ND and J.G. Hall of Hoople.
Potato shipments from Grand Forks – grossing about $4800 to New York City.
Volume in terms of hundredweight is expected to be down only slightly for Wisconsin potatoes shipments this season. Meanwhile, the Red River Valley has very limited potato shipments at this point.
Wisconsin’s potato shipments are expected be off about 5 percent this season from a year amounting to 27 million hundredweight (cwt) the 2017 18 growing. storage and shipping season. The 2016=17 fresh volume totaled 28.5 million cwt.
Due to a late weather related planting, growers will be leaving the potatoes in the ground as long as possible to give time to gain size. This resulted in diggings getting underway September 11th instead of September. 1st. Updated forecasts will be needed as growers are rolling the dice a bit as the latter harvest increases the change of a damaging frost. Wisconsin’s potato farmers normally complete harvest by October. 10th. Digging of potatoes this fall could continue as late as October 20 to gain as much growing time as possible for a product that is gauged by weight. Thus, growers are praying for a late frost.
Russet potatoes currently make up about 70 percent of potato shipments in the U.S., followed by red potatoes that have increase to 20 percent and yellow potatoes amounting 10 percent. Russets also continue make up the biggest volume of Wisconsin potato shipments.
How Wisconsin Potato Volume Ranks
Wisconsin is the nation’s third-largest potato shipping state, and ranks number one No. 1 east of the Mississippi River. Frito Lay has become a big presence in the Badger State and accounts for 25 percent of Wisconsin’s potatoes shipped for the processing market. Another 10 percent of the state’s potatoes are shipped as seed.
Red River Valley Potato Shipments
Shipments haven’t really ramped up yet but red potatoes from the nation’s largest “red” production region have got underway. While red potatoes continue to grow in popularity, about 18 percent of the Valley’s fresh potato production will be yellows this fall, a number that has tripled in the last six years.
As we plow right into the holiday shipping season, here’s a look at loading opportunities from South Texas and Mexico to the Red River Valley.
Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas fruit shipments began in early October with grapefruit, but volume has been increasing leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. A significant increase in loadings is expected after Thanksgiving and leveling off to more steady shipments through January.
South Texas orange shipment also got going in October and were in full swing with the arrival of November. However, Texas orange shipments only account for about 25 percent of the total citrus volume.
Mexican avocado Imports
Mexican Avocado Imports are Increasing through South Texas and big volumes are seen again through the winter months. During the 2016-17 shipping season, Mexican avocado shipments should hit about 2 billion pounds, similar to a year ago.
Lower Rio Grande Valley citrus, plus crossings from Mexico of tropical fruits and vegetables – grossing about $2600 to Chicago; $4100 to New York City.
Red River Valley Potato shipments
Red potato shipments from the Red River Valley, the nation’s largest red potato producer, will be down more than one-third from last year’s big crop, and 20 percent less than the five-year average. There were thousands of acreage lost to excessive rains ranging from Grand Forks, ND to the Canadian border.
It is estimated only 64,000 out of 80,000 planted potato acres in North Dakota will be harvested. One potato production forecast is at 19.8 million hundredweight (cwt.), down 28 percent from last year. However, another forecast believes an additional 4 million cwt. has been lost. Most of the acres lost were in northeast North Dakota on non-irrigated land. The state’s processing crop which yields much higher was largely unaffected by heavy rains.
Whichever estimate turns out to be more accurate, red potato volume from the Red River Valley will be far less than 2015-16 when 27.6 million cwt. of potatoes were shipped.
Red River Valley potatoes – grossing about $1700 to Chicago; $2600 to Dallas.
The new U.S. potato shipping season is underway in very light volume. Here is a preview from five states on what to expect.
Indiana Potato Shipments
Here’s one you may not be aware of. The red potato harvest has begun at Black Gold Farms’ operation in Winamac, IN, located about hallway between Chicago and Indianapolis. Red potatoes for the fresh market account for several hundred acres of Norland and Dark Red Norland varieties, which are being shipped through August. The Winamac farm allows Black Gold Farms to ship potatoes the year-round from its own farms. The cycle that starts each year in Texas and then transitions to North Carolina, Arkansas and Missouri before moving up to Indiana and finally to the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota.
North Dakota/Minnesota Potato Shipments
Red River Valley red potato shipments out of North Dakota and Minnesota are expected to be off 25 to 30 percent from a year ago due to weather factors. However, shipments, which will begin in mid October, are expected to be normal for 2016-17 until storages start running out of product late in the season (May and June). This will probably mean an earlier than normal end to shipping for most shippers. The Red River Valley is the nation’s largest red potato shipping area. A & L Potato Co. in East Grand Forks, MN is already packing and shipping red potatoes. Big Lake and Long Prairie, MN, along with Wisconsin typically ship the first red potatoes of the new season beginning in August.
Big Lake, MN potatoes – grossing about $1000 to Chicago.
Wisconsin Potato Shipments
Central Wisconsin is now shipping red potatoes, with russets coming soon. The first russets are expected this week in very light volume. The Badger State ranks third in U.S. potato shipments. Normal volume is expected this year.
Idaho Potato Shipments
The nation’s leading potato shipper, Idaho, is expected to get underway for the new season the week of August 15th. Normal volume is expected for the 2016-17 shipping season.
Twin Falls, ID potatoes – grossing about $1450 to L.A.
About 84 million boxes of California navels, 8 percent more than last year, are expected to be harvested this season. The estimate remains unchanged from the preseason harvest. This is a pleasant surprise considering all of the fruit and vegetable shipments that have been disrupted this winter ranging from the California desert to Mexico and Florida.
California citrus – grossing about $4100 to Chicago.
Red River Valley Potato Shipments
The California navel forecast of 86 million 40-pound cartons — up from 76 million last season — is larger than originally predicted. Shipments are just starting out of the San Joaquin Valley. Volume will be increasing as we get latter into October.
Central San Joaquin Valley fruits and vegetables – grossing about $6400 to New York City.
Lemon shipments out of California and Arizona from the desert growing region, which will provide most loadings for the next few months, with volume expected to be off by 15 to 20 percent compared to a year ago. However, volume out of the San Joaquin Valley should be similar to a year ago. Lemons shipments will continue out of the desert until December before moving to the San Joaquin Valley.
Wisconsin Potato Shipments
Wisconsin potato yields are expected to average 440 to 460 hundredweight per acre, which is considered very good. A year ago, the Badger State averaged between 410 and 420 per acre, which also is considered to be good. (add # shipments per week) Harvest continues.
Central Wisconsin potatoes – grossing about $1000 to Chicago.
Red River Valley Potato Shipments
90 percent of the Red River Valley crop from North Dakota and Minnesota will be harvested in October. Some potatoes have been going directly into the fresh market, but most are being placed into storage. Average yields and shipments are seen for this season.
Grand Forks, ND red potatoes – grossing about $1750 to Chicago.