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NASS adds nearly 1 million cwt. to ND potato production estimate

In January, USDA-NASS made large adjustments in fall potato production estimates in both North Dakota and Minnesota.  North Dakota gained 960,000 hundredweight (cwt.) while the Minnesota estimate dropped 870,000 cwt.  

NORTH DAKOTA - Bruce Huffaker, potato analyst and publisher of North American Potato Market News agreed with our assessment that the USDA had over-estimated potato losses in North Dakota based on the number of acres lost while not recognizing the vast majority of those acres were on lower yielding non-irrigated land.  Huffaker summed it up best. "USDA has started to recognize the bipolar nature of the state's 2016 potato crop. Heavy rains caused severe damage to crops in the Red River Valley, but irrigated crops grown further west produced record, or near-record yields."  Taking that into consideration, USDA upped its average yield estimate for the state from 310 cwt./acre to 325.  

It should also be noted the losses were concentrated on fresh, chip and seed acres.  Frozen processors will have plenty of potatoes in North Dakota.

MINNESOTA - In Minnesota the USDA dropped it's potato production estimate by 870,000 cwt. after lowering their acres planted and harvested by 3,000 acres.  Huffaker noted a pattern in Minnesota estimates. "The USDA has developed a habit of overestimating the state's potato area early in the season, only to revise the number downward in January. This is the third consecutive year that USDA has revised the state's harvested area down by a significant amount, on January 1." 

UNITED STATES - The USDA only made minor adjustments in fall production estimates in other states. When all tallied up, the U.S. production estimate was changed very little, increasing slightly from 405.17 million cwt. to 405.95 million cwt. U.S. fall production is still up 1.9% compared to 2015.

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