February 7, 2023

Ag Economy

Vegetable/Potato Industry Snapshot

Fresh market vegetables

  • 2023 Brought a ‘mixed bag’ of pricing with variation based on the specific crop – some varieties brought good prices, while others were lower. The growing season was dry in many areas, but most producers had adequate irrigation. 
  • While prices have been good for many varieties, inflation in input costs has taken a bite out of margins. This has been a challenge for some CSA growers who set their prices at the beginning of the season and are now facing elevated costs. CSAs and farm stands have also seen some sales declines since the COVID-driven peak in 2020-2021.
     

Potatoes

  • Maine once again saw strong yields for the 2022 crop, with averages coming in at 345 cwt/acre. This matched the record-setting yield from 2021. Based on a slight reduction in harvested acreage from 2021, total production is estimated at 18.11MM cwt, which is 275k cwt less than the total 2021 crop. 
  • Contract values in the processing sector generally saw $2/cwt increases for the 2022-2023 marketing season. Crop quality is once again very good. Production shortages in the Pacific-Northwest have once again caused processors to ship Maine processing quality potatoes to production plants in the PNW. Simplot has begun shipping what could be up to 250k cwt via both rail and truck. Lamb Weston, who shipped potatoes west in 2021, has also expressed interest but has not committed to taking any product at this time. 
  • Seed and tablestock markets are also very good, with price increases in the $2/cwt range compared to last year. The increased prices are needed to offset cost increases. Chipstock is generally moving on contract at the present time, with little to no open sales due to limited extra supplies of chipstock production. Chipstock contracts were also up in price by approximately $2/cwt. Overall supplies of Maine potatoes are expected to be tight through the remainder of the marketing season.
     
 

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