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Wisconsin potato producers harvest highly promotable crop in 2012

Duane Maatz, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, provided a snapshot potato production for the 2012 season.

“The WPVGA has estimated 2012 harvested acres at 63,500,” he stated. Total planted acres for the season were up slightly when compared to 2011. But Mr. Maatz said crop acres were comparable.

OpenerShotAccording to the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, the state’s growers produced a crop of high yield and excellent quality in 2012. (Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association)Estimates place the total crop weight at 29 million hundredweight. A breakdown of usage revealed the following: Fresh potatoes comprised 44 percent of the total crop with a yield of 12.8 million hundredweight. Frozen/fry accounted for 23.5 percent of the crop at a yield of 6.8 million hundredweight. Volume for chip potatoes, which comprised 23 percent of the crop, was set at 6.6 million hundredweight. And volume for seed potatoes, accounting for 9.5 percent of the 2012 crop, was set at 2.75 million hundredweight.

Russet varieties grown in Wisconsin are the Norkotah, Goldrush, Silverton, Century, Frontier, and Ranger. The red manifest is comprised of Cherry Red, Chieftain, LaRouge, Red Norland, Pontiac and Red Bliss.

Looking at yellow potatoes, Wisconsin also produces Molli, Ruby Crescent, Sierra Gold, Yellow Finnish and Russian Banana fingerling. Blue and purple potatoes are becoming increasingly popular, and the state’s growers also produce the All Blue and Caribe.

Wisconsin continues to hold its position as the nation’s third-largest potato producer and is the top-producer east of the Mississippi River.

Weather during the 2012 growing season was dry and hot. “We experienced drought conditions from June through harvest, with the least amount of rain falling in the Central Sands production area,” Mr. Maatz commented. “Light frost was experienced in the North during September, but no hard freezing temperatures until into October.”

He went on to say some localized areas experienced late blight. “Conditions for late blight became favorable early in the season, causing full season plant protection applications in some areas. No large outbreaks were experienced, indicating appropriate plant treatments,” he commented, adding that there was no evidence of late blight problems as the crop moved into storage.

Production was broken down by growing area, and the following information was provided by Mr. Maatz.

Northern Wisconsin: “Rice Lake yields are very similar to previous years at 450 hundredweight per acre. Little disease or insect problems were experienced this year.”

Antigo: “The 2012 crop is good quality and yielded very similarly to the 2011 crop. Acres remain steady to up slightly from the previous year. Recognizing differences by variety, yields again ranged between 325 and 375 [hundredweight], with the average being 360 hundredweight per acre.”

Central Wisconsin/Stevens Point: “The Central Sands had some local areas receiving a major rain event at planting, then a severe drought throughout the growing season. Yields reported during 2012 are somewhat dependent on variety and type. Early dig yields reported were between 375 and 400 hundredweight per acre. Many process/frozen yields have been reported at 550 hundredweight per acre [or higher]. On the fresh side, yields are also above average.”

Central Wisconsin/Plainfield: “Chip stock yields were higher on both the early dig and the storage crop. The Burbank yields are also significantly higher than 2011. Payable yield estimates are well above 450 hundredweight per acre.”

Central Wisconsin/Coloma and Grand Marsh: “The growers in this area are reporting a larger sized crop in both yield and tuber size than in 2011. Burbank yields are reported at well over 500 hundredweight per acre.”

Spring Green/Nekoosa: “This area again experienced similar production levels to neighboring areas. Yields here are also higher than in 2011. We expect saleable potatoes to yield at or above 450 hundredweight per acre.”