In the New York processing market, vegetable acres appear to remain stable for the coming year. Yields were generally good across New York in 2018, though there were reports of soft prices.
In New England, a wet summer into fall across much of the region affected yields and growers’ ability to get into fields. This may result in some sales decreases for those affected.
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 of seasonal farm labor continues to be an issue for many vegetable growers.
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 for 2018 are estimated to be the same as the 2017 crop at 320 cwt per acre. Harvested acreage increased by 2,000 acres to 49,500 acres. Chipstock production appears to be higher, while usable supplies for french fry processing, tablestock and seed are in line with the previous year.
Market conditions continue to be favorable for all industry sectors. All increased chipstock production 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, some of which has moved to PEI, Canada.
Global demand for french fries continues to be strong and with potato crops in Europe being down nearly 20 percent, supplies for french fry processing are in a tight balance.
Tablestock prices are at or slightly higher than the previous year and should remain at profitable levels throughout the shipping season. Seed supplies are in high demand which is leading to increased seed prices, particularly for varieties shipped to the southern U.S states for chipstock production.