Commodity Update: Potato Roundup in Wisconsin and Michigan


The 2022 Wisconsin potato crop got off to a late start due to cold and wet weather in April, but Michigan was closer to average, both ultimately resulting in average or, in some cases, slightly above average yields, as harvest wraps up.


Wisconsin Harvest

In the Badger state, which planted about 63,000 acres of potatoes this year, the delayed planting resulted in the crop being about two weeks behind schedule throughout much of the growing season, according to Tamas Houlihan, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association.


“Mostly dry conditions persisted throughout the summer, although there were a few timely rainfalls,” Houlihan adds. “With the extensive use of irrigation, the crop turned out very well.”


About 35% of Wisconsin’s crop goes to the fresh market, while 28% is utilized for chip stock, 24% for process/frozen and 13% for seed potatoes.


Pest pressure was not severe, and there was no late blight, Houlihan reports. “Wisconsin had an outstanding harvest season, with close to ideal conditions throughout September and October,” he says. “Yields are average and quality is excellent.  We don’t have final numbers quite yet, but we expect yields to average about 425 cwt./acre, which would put the state’s production at 26.775 million cwt.”


Wisconsin consistently ranks third in the U.S. behind Idaho and Washington in potato production. 


Michigan Report

“Overall, we had a good growing season in Michigan for potatoes,” says Dr. Kelly Turner, executive director of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission. “Things got a little wet during harvest, which caused some delays, but nothing that should have significant effects on yield or quality.”


Unlike the 2021 early warm-up that started the season a month ahead of time, planting season was average this year with not many delays, according to Chris Long, who leads the Potato Outreach Program, a collaboration between Michigan State University and the Michigan Potato Industry Commission. “The 2022 growing season was generally dry resulting in slower pathogen development in the crops,” he says. “Early Blight (Alternaria spp.) was the most prevalent foliar disease. Late blight was detected in Michigan very late in the growing season resulting in limited impact to crop production.”


The incidences of Colorado Potato Beetles were lower than previous years, but growers continued to experience the impact from Aphid transmission of strains of PVY (Potato Virus Y), he adds. PVY symptoms, according to Cornell University, include yellow, light green and dark green “mosaic” patterns on leaves, leaf drop, brown or black (necrotic) line patterns often on veins or shoots, necrotic lesions on leaves and stems, rugosity (wrinkling), yellow flecking, stunted growth, death of growing points, tuber cracking and tuber necrosis.


Common scab and internal hollow heart issues are present in some areas affecting marketable tuber quality, Long says.


Michigan is recording average or slightly higher specific gravity (desirable) in chip processing potatoes, Long advises. Michigan ranks eight in U.S. potato production and number one in potatoes for chips – 70% of Michigan’s total potato production.


USDA puts Michigan’s planted area at 46,000 acres, down 1,000 acres from the 2021 crop. The U.S. 2022 potato area is estimated at 910,000 acres. That’s down 33,000 acres from the current estimate for the 2021 crop, a 3.5% decline. The most significant cut came in Idaho, which planted 25,000 fewer acres of potatoes, a 7.9% reduction.


“Table stock variety prices are strong as a result of some challenges out West due to a cool late spring with a hot dry summer, resulting in below average yields,” says Jeff Sommerfield, vice president and group manager for agribusiness lending for GreenStone Farm Credit Services. “The retail price spikes come from the supply side due to rising costs for labor, machinery, fuel, fertilizer, crop seeds, and other inputs. The increasing production and transportation costs are prompting producers, transporters, wholesalers and retailers to share some of the costs with consumers.”


Storage has been a premium for the slightly larger crop, Sommerfield reports. “Demand from the chip side seems to be balanced with supply. But some of the chip plants are running into some labor issues and haven't been able to run their plants at full capacity,” he says.


Inflation and supply chain challenges are pushing input costs, likely prompting growers to ask for contract increases for 2023.



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