(Sept. 27) Size B red potatoes are likely to be in high demand but short supply following a hot, dry summer in the Red River Valley.

“There is a big shortage of Bs,” said Cory Seim, general manager of Northern Valley Growers Inc., Hoople, N.D. “I don’t think we’ll run out, but I don’t think prices will come down either.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Sept. 25 that size B potatoes from Minnesota and North Dakota were $16-18 per 50-pound sack or $17-19 per 50-pound carton.

Prices are more than double the same time last year, when rain and flooding led to delayed plantings and smaller sizing. On Sept. 17, 2005, the USDA reported 5-pound 50 cartons of Bs were $7.75-9.

Paul Dolan, general manager for Associated Potato Growers Inc., Grand Forks, N.D., said he expected prices to stay high until Florida harvests its red potatoes in February.

Dave Moquist, co-owner of O.C. Schulz & Sons, Crystal, N.D., said Bs can account for up to 25% of the region’s crop, but the smaller sizes probably will make up only 10% of this year’s crop.

That’s bad news for grower-shippers, Moquist said, because the smaller sizes fetch better prices than size A reds. In USDA’s Sept. 25 report, size A reds were $5.25-6.25 per 50-pound sack and $6.50-7.50 per 50-pound carton.

Moquist said the smaller sizes were popular because of their versatility in foodservice.