Shortage of Idaho potatoes

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18 August 2022
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Combined factors lead to 25-30% drop in yields.

IDAHO in the US, famous for growing Russet potatoes, is facing a shortage over the next couple of months, with warnings that yields could be down by up to a third.

Very hot, dry and smoky conditions during the 2021 growing season cut down 25%-30% of yields across Idaho, while smoke from wildfires in California and Colorado created cloud cover in Idaho and prohibited plants from getting adequate sun, according to Donald Russo, senior category manager for the Bronx, N.Y.-based Baldor Specialty Foods.

“Poor weather during the growing season really decreased volume, and the quality of open storage-shed potatoes didn’t hold up,” he said in an interview with The Packer, adding that processors had been offering double the normal price for a truck full of potatoes. “It used to be $6 for 100 pounds [of ungraded potatoes] and now it’s $13-$14 per 100 pounds."

A Russet potato is one of the varieties of Idaho-grown potatoes, and while russet potatoes are grown in many states of the US, the most well-known Russet is grown in Idaho. They are also called Russet Burbank or Burbank potatoes.

Idaho Potato Commission President and CEO Jamey Higham said The longer lead time between dwindling Idaho potato availability and the arrival of the new crop has created a more noticeable gap in potato supplies. 

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"It's not unusual for there to be a shortage of Idaho potatoes in August. We plant only one potato crop a year, which is harvested in September, and our goal every year is to sell all the potatoes before the new crop is harvested. This year, the shortage happened a little earlier than previous years."

Donald Russo added: “The Idaho potato industry as a whole is facing extremely short supplies from August to September. While this is somewhat typical, as storage winds down and we wait for the next crop, this year is different.”

Sources: Idaho Potato Commission / The Packer

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