In the New York processing market, vegetable acres appear at this point to remain stable for the coming year. Yields were generally good this year across NY. Some reports of weak pricing due to competition from Canada and other areas.
In New England, a wet summer into fall across much of the region affected yields and growers’ ability to get into fields. This significantly affected a number of growers in New England, causing some to post financial losses for the year.
New Jersey results were mixed. Prices were generally good but did not always make up for lower yields. The weather was difficult for many growers, with a very dry start to the summer, followed by surplus moisture for the remainder of the season and into fall.
The availability and cost of seasonal farm labor continues to be a major issue for many vegetable growers. Several Northeast states have increased minimum wages and New York is considering mandatory overtime for farm workers.
The 2018 Maine potato crop is estimated to have produced 15.84 million cwt., which is an increase of 640,000 cwt. from 2017. Average yields were about the same, but harvested acreage increased.
Market conditions continue to be favorable. Additional chipstock will be needed due to shortages in other growing regions. Overall quality of the processing crop is slightly below the previous year, which could decrease per cwt. returns for some growers, but all supplies will be utilized and any open production has been locked up by processors.
Global demand for french fries continues to be strong. Tablestock prices are at or slightly higher than the previous year and should remain so throughout the shipping season. Seed supplies are in high demand which is leading to increased prices, particularly for varieties shipped to the southern U.S. states for chipstock production.
Looking towards 2019, growers have begun signing contracts in the processing sector. Most growers are seeing increased volumes and pricing with major buyers.