March 14, 2016

Overcoming 2016’s Poor Potato Market

3 Points to Promising Potato Profits

It’s no secret – 2016 is forecast to be a less than profitable year for all of agriculture.

Potato growers, in particular, are at a disadvantage for coming out ahead this year. As predicted from Samuel Essah, Ph.D., associate professor, Colorado State University’s San Luis Valley Research Center, and reported by Bruce Huffaker, publisher of North American Potato Market News, production is up by 4 percent with potato prices soon to drop[1].

Fortunately, there’s still a lot of 2016 ahead of us – here are three considerations to support performance, planning and your bottom line.

3 Points to Promising Potato Profits

1. Use the K that Pays – SOP vs. MOP

A two-year field trial, near Othello, Washington, was led by Steve Holland of Holland Agricultural Services and included four different K treatments. Three varieties (Bannok, Burbank, Umatilla Russets) showed sulfate of potash (SOP) fertilizer offered, on average, a 22.6 percent economic advantage over muriate of potash (MOP). For trial data, CLICK HERE.

You can also read about the yield performance in a previous blog post, “Proof is in the Potatoes.”

2. Promote and Package – highlighting variety-specific nutritional or culinary benefits

As Dr. Essah shared in late December 2015, there is much opportunity for the potato industry to brand varieties according to specific qualities – such as nutritional or health benefits. For example, Purple Majesty, a potato variety having purple skin and flesh, is known to have high antioxidant properties and an ability to reduce high blood pressure. Educating consumers about the Purple Majesty’s desirable nutritional and health benefits, and branding its variety-specific qualities, creates consumer demand and, in turn, improves sales.

3. Cultivars and Cultural Management

Each potato cultivar has its own unique set of cultural management requirements to achieve maximum tuber performance. Therefore, to achieve maximum genetic potential, new potato cultivars should be evaluated to determine cultural management requirements[2].

For more information on the economics advantage of SOP and K management recommendations, be sure to review slides from Mark Davis, senior agronomist for Compass Minerals®. In the meantime, we wish everyone a prosperious 2016 growing season!