(Dec. 13) The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports lower acreage for this winter’s new potato deal.

Shippers offered varied assessments of the market in early December, with 50-pound sacks of whites quoted as low as $8 and as high as $12.

Wayne Lindsey, sales manager for Agri-Empire, San Jacinto, Calif., saw the market at about $10. Reds were at $9, he said.
Arnie Kirschenmann, general manager of King-Pak Potato Co., Edison, quoted yellows at $10.

PRICES LOWER

Overall, those prices are about $1-2 lower than what the USDA reported the same time last year. Still, Lindsey said the markets were about normal for that time of year and that prices should increase as the deal moves to the desert, which could be as early as January.

Markets could also respond if russet volumes fall short from the fall storage deal, which saw cuts in acreage this year, he said.

Quality problems for storage reds could also strengthen markets for the fresh winter deal, as could increased demand from processing for storage crops, he said.

USDA ESTIMATES

The USDA estimates planted acreage for the 2001 winter deal at 16,800 acres, down from 17,200 in 2000. It estimates harvested acreage at 14,000, down from 17,000 last season.

California has the bulk of the acreage, although some lies in northwest Washington.