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Northwest acreage increases for 2011 potato crop

by Lora Abcarian | August 09, 2011

Cool weather during the 2011 potato production season in the Pacific Northwest will delay reports on estimated potato volume coming from the region. But data available during July confirm that acreage planted to potatoes in 2011 increased for both Oregon and Washington.

Bill Brewer, president and chief executive officer of the Oregon Potato Commission, said that the state is home to 90 active potato farms, which planted a total of about 38,000 acres for the 2011 season. “This is an

Cool, wet weather during the spring will delay the potato harvest in the Pacific Northwest this season. Official estimates for volume are not expected to be released until early September.
increase of 3,000 acres over 2010,” he told The Produce News. Of this total, about 7,000 acres were planted to table-stock potatoes.

Although weather was challenging during the spring, he said that he expects a highly promotable crop. “The growing conditions have been excellent since emergence,” he said. “Currently, the crop is in great shape other than being a little later than normal. The quality is very good.”

The harvest for early season process potatoes for chips and French fries is currently underway. The harvest for fresh potatoes will begin in mid-August, roughly two weeks behind typical timetables. “The Oregon potato harvest will be completed mid- to late October,” he added.

A report issued by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that Washington’s planted acreage increased 15 percent in 2011. An estimated 155,000 acres were planted in Washington, up 20,000 acres from the 2010 production and up 10,000 acres from the 2009 production season.

In its Crop Production report dated July 2011, NASS reported that Oregon produced 20,058 thousand hundredweight of potatoes in 2010. Washington produced 81,740 thousand hundredweight.

In its AgriFacts publication, NASS reported on fall potato production and stocks available on June 1, 2011. According to the report, Oregon had 3,100 thousand hundredweight, or 15 percent of its total production, available on that date. Washington had 3,000 thousand hundredweight, or 4 percent, available.

According to NASS’s Crop Production report, the mix of varieties in 2011 for Oregon is as follows: russets, 80 percent; reds, 3 percent; whites, 14 percent; and yellows, 3 percent. The mix of varieties in 2011 for Washington is as follows: russets, 89 percent; reds, 3 percent; whites, 7 percent; and yellows, 1 percent.

On June 30, Northwest Farm Credit Services reported that Washington and Oregon experienced their third and fifth coldest “March through May” reporting periods, respectively, on record. The agency also reported that the fresh market and processors “are competing for tight old-crop potato supplies.”