Potato sorting

Sorted potatoes travel down a conveyor belt for boxing at the Walchli Farms potato processing facility outside Hermiston, Ore. The region's potato stocks and disappearance are above last year's levels.

Potato stocks in Idaho, Oregon and Washington on April 1 totaled 98 million hundredweight, up from 87 million a year earlier, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service reports.

Stocks in Idaho totaled 56 million cwt., up from 50 million.

Disappearance to date was 84.2 million cwt., up from 81.3 million.

“Our movement the past two to three weeks has been good,” said Dick Thomas, senior vice president of sales at Potandon Produce LLC in Idaho Falls. Retailers’ promotions for the April 21 Easter holiday have increased retail volume, normal for this time of year.

The quality of the Idaho potato crop has been good, he said. Potato sizes have been slightly smaller than in the past few years, which increases the number of retail consumer packs available.

“Our movement has been good and demand has been steady,” said Todd Cornelison, CEO of High Country Potato in Rexburg. The state this year has a higher percentage of the nation’s fresh-potato movement for reasons such as weather-related challenges in Wisconsin’s crop.

“I feel really good about Idaho fresh demand,” he said.

Oregon stocks totaled 10 million cwt., up from 7 million, NASS said in its April 17 report. Disappearance to date was 18.1 million cwt., up from 14.4 million.

Stocks in Washington totaled 32 million cwt., up from 30 million. Disappearance to date totaled 73.6 million cwt., up from 69 million.

Potatoes in storage accounted for 34% of the 2018 fall storage states' production, up a percentage point from a year earlier, NASS said. Potato disappearance to date totaled 277 million cwt., up from 266 million cwt. Season-to-date shrink and loss, at 20.5 million cwt., was 6% higher.

Processors in Idaho and Malheur County, Ore., used 55.3 million cwt. of potatoes for the season, up 2%. In other Oregon counties and in Washington, 65.1 million cwt. of potatoes had been used by processors for the season, up 5%.

Processors in the eight major states used 150 million cwt. of potatoes for the season, up 3% from a year earlier. Dehydrated usage accounted for 28.3 million cwt. of the total potatoes processed, up 10%.

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