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US: Russet potato supplies are tight, boosting prices

While potato production nationwide in 2017 fell less than 1 percent, things were very different in the Pacific Northwest. Combined production in Idaho, Washington and Oregon this year fell 6.3 percent on 21,000 fewer planted acres, according to the December crop production report by USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The decline is significant as the region produces 78 percent of all potatoes processed in the U.S. and 61 percent of fresh russets produced in the U.S. While there’s no hard data, Huffaker would guess russets make up about 85 percent of the PNW crop. Bruce Huffaker, a potato market analyst, says: “I think we’re coming up to a situation with russet potatoes where we’re going to run into crunch time on supply. PNW stocks on Dec. 1 are estimated to be down 9 percent year over year. Processing usage June through November was up slightly and fresh usage was down only 0.8 percent – meaning the crunch is ahead. We did not cut back on usage during the first six months; all that (shortfall) has to come in the next six months.” More

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