U.S.. Potato supplies to be hit by fall weather events

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U.S.. Potato supplies to be hit by fall weather events

Potatoes could be in short supply during the coming year after several fall weather events hindered harvests in key areas.

Temperatures dropped well below freezing for several days in Idaho, the country's leading potato-producing, state while much of the crop still was in the ground, according to a news report.

Meanwhile, North Dakota, which ranks fourth in potato production, has had so much rain this fall that growers fear they will be unable to complete their harvest.

"For some areas, the losses could be substantial," National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles was quoted as saying ."It's just been a really chaotic weather pattern this year."

Growers in both states are assessing the damage, Quarles said. But it is clear that supplies will be down.

"We're looking at one of the shortest supplies we've had in a long time," Travis Blacker, industry relations director for the Idaho Potato Commission, was quoted as saying.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture noted in its National Potato and Onion Report on Friday that potato demand exceeded supply in parts of Idaho, North Dakota and Minnesota.

It is too soon to know how much consumer prices will be impacted, potato industry experts said.

"It is going to affect consumer prices," Blacker said. "Potatoes are pretty cheap, so it's probably not going to go crazy. But they will go up."

The biggest impact will be felt by growers, Blacker added. "This is going to be pretty devastating for a lot of farmers."

In Idaho, which produces nearly 30% of U.S. potatoes, a freak fall blizzard pushed temperatures below freezing from Oct. 9 to 12, while harvest was still underway.

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