Knowledge Exchange

Ag Economy

Vegetables

  • Weather conditions across the Northeast have been relatively favorable, particularly compared to last year’s excessive rainfall.
  • For the fresh market, yields have generally been good, but pricing has been rather volatile.
  • Those selling direct-to-consumer have done well this season. Sales have been bolstered by good product demand and an increasing volume of younger consumers.
  • Competition in the vegetable space seems to have increased, particularly for lettuce and other leafy greens.
  • The availability and cost of seasonal farm labor continues to be a major issue for many vegetable growers. Unemployment is low and several Northeast states have increased minimum wages, leading to higher costs. New York has passed mandatory overtime after 60 hours per week for farm workers and will allow union organization to take effect in 2020. Growers are nervous and uncertain about what next year will bring.

Potatoes

  • The 2019 Maine potato harvest is approximately 95% complete with more growers finishing up every day.
  • Yields have been average to above average with growers being pleasantly surprised at overall yields due to a dry August.
  • Quality appears to be excellent as there was essentially no disease pressure throughout the growing season.
  • The french fry processing crop appears to have better specific gravity than the previous year, which should translate into improved price per cwt. on the crop.
  • A warm fall should also ensure excellent color quality on both the french fry and chipstock crop. The seed and tablestock crops also are seeing excellent yields and quality.
  • Market conditions continue to be favorable. Processing contract volumes generally increased for the 2019 crop. Some of this is driven by increased export demand, which remains strong and is at levels not seen since 2012.
  • Any open processing supplies will likely be purchased by processors in the area at contract prices or above. Tablestock markets are currently above previous year levels in most areas.
  • Seed markets also continue to see strong demand and prices are expected to remain at or above the previous year.