Is it still "party time" for potatoes in 2011-12? The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture Vegetable and Melon Outlook report would seem to say that the 2011-12 will be more subdued for growers than the past season.
Gary Lucier and crew at ERS say:
Fall-season potato growers planted 948,600 acres in 2011, up 6 percent from a year earlier and the largest fall area since 2007. With average yields, fall potato production could approach the average of the 5 previous years of 387 million hundredweight. With larger output in prospect, prices received by U.S. potato growers are expected to average below those of year earlier during the 2011/12 marketing year.
Just how good was 2010? The report states:
The preliminary average U.S. price for 2010-crop potatoes is $8.79 per cwt, 7-percent higher than the average for the previous crop but the second highest nominal (unadjusted for inflation) value ever, behind 2008’s record of $9.09 per cwt.
Here is a graph showing progression of 100 count potatoes in Idaho.
What to expect this year? Less excitement, with a caveat...
With larger output in prospect, prices received by U.S. potato growers are expected to average below those of year earlier during the 2011/12 marketing year. Domestic demand (especially in foodservice) will likely remain subdued until employment levels begin to improve. If weather and harvest conditions are favorable over the next 4-6 weeks, yields could come in higher than expected, which would increase potato supplies. However, if harvest or storage issues develop with the fall crop and/or domestic demand for fresh and processed products proves more resilient than expected, potato prices could move even higher.