Moscow--As the Idaho Potato harvest continues across the state, The Producer’s Jake Putnam visited industry insider Joe Guenthner at the University of Idaho, to get an academic perspective on this year’s crop. Guenthner is Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Idaho, where he specializes in the economics of the potato industry.
What’s been going on in this rollercoaster potato market this year?
“Prices have been volatile, they’re coming down from record high prices to prices that are still profitable but in the direction they’re heading they be in the ‘break even’ levels soon. That’s to be expected it’s harvest time. That’s when prices are the lowest and supplies plentiful. Growers have been making money on potatoes and I see that continuing, not all the time but in general it continues to be a profitable crop.
Contract potatoes are up and gone, now we’re moving into the harvest, what’s the outlook?
Some of the processers did not contract enough to meet their needs, demand is increasing for frozen fries, that’s good news and they have been out in the market across the continent buying on the open market just to supplement dwindling supplies, that’s good market news.
Looking ahead to late November and December, what does the market hold?
I think there will be extended periods of profit crisis, I think in general this crop will be a profitable crop.
With high input costs, a late start, what do you think about the 2011 crop overall?
I’m bullish on the 2011 potato crop. In the long run I’m bullish, I’m a former potato grower and I love the product and the people in that industry. This is one of a series of good years.