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Minnesota Ag News Headlines
Red River Potato Harvest Underway as Prices Tumble
Minnesota Ag Connection - 09/16/2020

The potato harvest is now underway in the Red River Valley. Yields are all over the board ranging from poor to excellent. Most of the fields with poor yields were damaged by heavy rain that fell on, and around June 30, reported Ted Kreis from Northern Plains Potato Growers Association (NPPGA), East Grand Forks, Minn.

North Dakota potatoes harvested was 3%, equal to last year, and near 6% average. Potato condition in North Dakota stands at 23% excellent, 50% good, 20% fair, 2% poor and 5% very poor, reports USDA's National Ag Statistics Service (NASS).

The Minnesota potato harvest advanced 4 percentage points to 30% complete, 12 days ahead of last year and 3 days ahead of normal, NASS reports. Potato condition in Minnesota stands at 31% excellent, 61% good, 7% fair and 1% poor.

Meanwhile, the potato harvest in the Big Lake, Minn., area is into its sixth week. Yields from that region have been about average; however demand for their red potatoes has been anything but average.

After many months of high red potato prices, buyers are having to be convinced to start promoting reds again and that has led to a huge red potato price drop over the past several weeks. In the past month, the base price for #1 size A reds in totes has fallen from $28 per hundredweight to the current price of $12 to $13.

This is very concerning for Red River Valley fresh shippers who will inherit the red market from Central Minnesota in the coming weeks. Unless Big Lake prices rebound very soon, the Valley will transition into a market price that is about half of what it was last year at the same time.

Fortunately yellow potato prices are stronger, holding in the mid $20's. This is about the same as last year. This is important because yellow potatoes now make up about 20% of the Red River Valley fresh crop.

Next week NPPGA will have a report on the russet harvest which is also underway in the area.

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