As growers prepare to plant the 2001 crop, they are being admonished to "park the planters early," and not repeat the production of 2000.
Vernon DeLong, secretary of the Potato Marketing Association of North America, issued a statement to growers in late January urging them to avoid the overproduction disaster of last year.
"Every grower must realize the market doesn't need as many potatoes as we produced last year. The "hangover" from the 2000 crop means that a 10 percent reduction in acreage probably isn't enough.
"The market is down slightly and the inventory in frozen product and potatoes could cover the 10 percent acreage reduction. Growers need to tighten supplies for this season so prices can return to profitable levels."
DeLong cautioned contract growers to avoid overages by reducing their acreage to only fill their contract volumes. Reducing acreage can save costs by offsetting the increase of inputs. He said yields have been increasing and volume contracts can be filled with fewer acres.
"As we reduce acreage, we will probably not reduce overall supplies by the same percentage because the least productive fields are usually removed first."