Friday, July 10, 2009

Potato news

Hail damages could cut into Potato Bottomline

IDAHO FALLS -Severe weather is taking it's toll on the 2009 Idaho Potato crop in Southeast Idaho. The United Potato Growers of Idaho says severe hail storms damaged fields across the region.

According to UPGI the hailstorms wiped out nearly 10,000 acres of potatoes. Acreage numbers are in but farmers are still asessing damaged crops while growers are trying to figure out what that means in losses and market conditions come harvest.

Co-op CEO Jerry Wright says they're monitoring damaged fields and some are making remarkable comebacks in the warm, moderate weather. Thousands of acres were hit from Pocatello to Ashton by four different hail storms over the past few weeks.

"We're seeing the wrath of Mother Nature right now. And we hope to get a good crop out of this season," said Wright. United says farmers are back in their fields and are doing what they can for damaged crops, some of the spuds can be sold to dehydrating processors.

The official potato count for this growing season is 315,000 acres across the state. That's up 3.9 percent over last year and demand is down nationwide on potatoes too much supply could hurt prices come harvest and into 2010.

Last year Idaho growers shipped one million more potato bags and ended up losing $30 million.
But more good news, United said the majority of the new acres are contracted by dehydrating companies and won't cause too big of a dent on potato prices.

"A lot will depend on how this crop turns out. We've had the wettest spring on record. We've had record hail unlike anything we've ever seen before. Both of those are going to affect the yield of the crop," said Wright.

The United Potato Growers of Idaho said this is the most accurate count ever done in the state.

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