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Potato processors in many countries cut contracted acres

There will be fewer acres of Russets going into the ground in northern states this spring as processors cut back on their contracted acres in response to a reduction in sales of frozen french fries and other potato products, reports Ann Bailey in the Grand Forks Herald.

The report says that the closure of fast-food businesses and restaurants last month has drastically curtailed the sales of frozen potato products in the United States and around the world.

“There’s no doubt there has been a negative impact on what the processors are doing,” said Donavon Johnson, Northern Plains Potato Growers president in East Grand Forks. “There’s a need for less production, so that means less acres, not just in this area, but all across the northern tier, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine.”

Contracted potato acres in the western European countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and the United Kingdom could be reduced by nearly 8% to 785,589 hectares, according to World Potato Markets, a weekly electronic newsletter that monitors potato markets in Europe and other countries around the globe.

World Potato Markets, meanwhile, pegs this year’s Canadian potato acres at 134,812, 8.6% less than last year’s acreage. In the United States, talk in the potato industry is that, depending on the processor, North Dakota Russet contracted acres have been cut as much as 20%.

J.R. Simplot in Grand Forks has cut its contacts by 10% to 12%, said Carl Hoverson, a Larimore, N.D., grower. Hoverson a longtime grower for the potato processor, was anticipating larger cuts, so was pleasantly surprised, he said. However, though the reductions in contracted acres are less than Hoverson anticipated, they still will feel a financial hit.

Read the full report in the Grand Forks Herald here
Photo: Larimore, N.D., potato grower Carl Hoverson checks a warehouse of Russet potatoes that will be processed into French fries. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

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