Hard Frost Could Prove Costly

Published online: Oct 05, 2000
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Potato Growers of Idaho President Keith Esplin of Blackfoot, ID, said a hard freeze throughout southern Canada early this morning could make a demand shift in potato marketing.

Esplin said overnight frost caused widespread damage to potatoes in southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba as well as in Montana.

Temperatures ranged from 10 degrees F to the mid-teens. They will more than likely end potato harvest in some areas, which could build demand for Idaho potatoes.

Esplin said it's unfortunate whenever growers lose part of their crop. "It's a risk farmers have to live with," he said. "But when crop damage occurs, demand often shifts to other areas. Only time will tell if this frost caused enough damage to spike prices here in Idaho. But it is the first positive market signal we have seen this year and we sure could use some better prices."

Many Idaho growers have struggled with sub-par returns throughout most of the last four years. Prices this year started off at or near historic lows, PGI's news release said.

PGI said sources in southern Alberta confirmed that frost penetrated deep into potato hills. Alberta growers estimate that as much as 30 percent of their crop could be lost.

Temperatures near Moose Jaw, SK, and southwest Montana dipped to about 15 degrees F overnight. Near Brandon, MB, a commercial production area with a french fry processing plant, temperatures were also in the mid-teens.

Another day without warming followed by a night of temperatures in the teens is very likely to cause widespread potato crop losses in those areas.