Cultivation/Production, Trade/Markets/Prices, Trends

US: Potato outlook appears bleak

PotatoesTall hay stacks and overflowing grain bins are sending farmers clear signals to look at alternative crops for the 2016 planting season. Bruce Huffaker hopes they chose to idle acres rather than plant potatoes, but past history indicates otherwise. “Our experience is that the relative price between wheat and potatoes is the best indicator of planting intentions,” Huffacker told growers and lenders during the University of Idaho’s Agricultural Outlook earlier this month. An October-to-December average price of $4.60 per bushel for wheat and an average potato price of $6 per 100-pound sack suggests U.S. potato farmers will plant 1.9 percent — or nearly 1 million acres — more potatoes in 2016. But based on conversations he’s had with potato growers this month, he’s afraid the increase may be closer to 4 percent. And that could further depress a market that is already struggling. Huffaker is president of the North America Potato Market News Inc. More

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