(Sept. 20) IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — With typical harvest pressure pulling down f.o.b. prices, Idaho shippers reported large sizes and good quality on new crop potatoes, and harvests were ahead of schedule going into October.

Early results indicated that russet norkotahs were strong to larger count sizes and early f.o.b. pricing reflected even pricing across the size range for count cartons.

Harvest of norkotahs has been active since mid-August and sizes have been running strong to count cartons 40s, 50s and 60s, said Dick Thomas, vice president of sales for Potandon Produce LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho.

“(Russet norkotahs) have not been generating the amount of consumer packs and smaller-sized count cartons as normal,” Thomas said.

Russet burbank harvest and packing was just under way in southeast Idaho on Sept. 19.

“The quality looks very good and yields are about average,” said Kevin Stanger, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Wada Farms Marketing Group, Idaho Falls.

Stanger said the size profile of the burbank crop is expected to look standard, with premium prices for larger sizes.

Depending on weather during harvest, grower-shippers said Idaho’s crop should come in at close to last year’s level. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in July estimate fall potato acreage in Idaho at 330,000 acres, up 5,000 acres from 2005. The first official production estimate won’t be released until November.

PRICES

Count carton prices for russet norkotah potatoes were reported Sept. 19 at mostly at $7-7.50 for size 40s through 80s in 50-pound count cartons, said Tom Cooper, Federal-State Market News reporter in Idaho Falls. That compared with prices of $10-11 for that size range on Sept. 19 last year.

The USDA’s f.o.b. price for five 10-pound fill bag in 50-pound bales was at $6.50, compared with $6-6.50 at the same time last year.