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World potato production up 16% since 2006, U.S. stagnates

Staff Writer |
Last year was a difficult one for U.S. for potato farmers with dropping planted area and a new incoming President who farmers worry may risk current trade deals with two of the countries major potato exporters, Mexico and Canada.

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This combined with the fact that U.S. potato production has stagnated are painting a dim picture according to some farmers.

Though Idaho and Washington are still the leading potato growing states, Idaho’s share has been slowly diminishing over time.

From 1990 to 2015 Idaho's share of total production acres in the nation have dropped by nearly 6% said Ryan Larsen, an Extension farm management specialist at Utah State University.

North Dakota also saw a drop from 15,000 acres in 1990 to 82,000 reported in 2015. Washington has stayed relatively unchanged growing at a steady pace.

"The potato marketing year runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31. Growers saw an uptick in prices to start the 2013-14 marketing year, then it was all down from there. The 2014-15 and 2015-16 marketing years remained flat at around $6 to $8 per hundredweight" Larsen said.

Since 2000, the average national price for fresh potatoes has ranged from a low of $7.34 per hundredweight for the 2003 crop to a high of $14.44 for the 2008 crop, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While that’s not a great outlook, growers who are able to capitalize on market timing may be able to capture higher prices as some did in 2015 and 2016.

While U.S. potato production is steady, world production increased 16 percent between 2006 and 2015, Larsen said.

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