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Washington Potato Acreage Leaps by 15 Percent

Washington Potato Acreage Leaps by 15 Percent

Evergreen State spud crop spurts ahead of previous level.

In a report just issued b the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Washington office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the state producers planted an estimated 155,000 acres of potatoes in 2011.

That's a 20,000-acre increase over the level a year earlier, and 10,000 acres more than the producers planted in 2009, signaling an upward trend for the crop.

The entire 2011 crop is expected to be harvested. Often, part of an estimated crop reported by the service is, for one reason or another, left unpicked in the field.

About 89% of the Washington crop was planted to the mainline varieties of Russet types, says the NASS field office in Olympia, Wash. Another 7% was in white varieties, with the rest of the potato plantings given to yellow, red and blue types – some of which are considered novelty markets for the industry, but which have been growing in popularity among gourmet shop buyers.

"This is the first estimate for the 2011 potato crop in Washington," notes David Knopf, NASS Washington Field Office director. The first actual production estimate for the 2011 crop will not be released until Nov. 9, 2011. Final estimates of acreage, production and disposition of the 2010 crop will be published on Sept. 22, 2011.

In Idaho, growers planted 320,000 acres of potatoes this year, 25,000 more than the 295,000 acres planted in the 2010 season, according to ag stat figures from that state. The increased acreage was in part the result of stronger prices growers have been receiving for their spuds in recent years.

Oregon statistics service figures indicate a 2011 crop of 38,500 acres as compared with 35,500 acres in the 2010 planting season. Crop development in Oregon is considered delayed because of cold, wet spring conditions.

Russet type varieties will dominate the Idaho and Oregon scene as well, with those states reportedly planting 92% and 80% of their crops to that cultivar in 2011.

With 513,500 acres planted to fall potatoes for 2011, the Pacific Northwest accounted for  54% of the nation's spud acres planted compared with 52% in 2010, the service announces.

Area planted to fall potatoes in the U.S. for 2011 is estimated at 948,600  acres, a 6% overall increase for the nation's  spud crop.

Producers anticipate harvesting 936,100 of those acres this year, the service notes.

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