Idaho potato farmers are in the thick of harvesting the new crop following a dismal year for many producers.
Growers in the state received an average price of just $4.25 per hundredweight for their 2009 fresh-market crop
That's less than half what the 2008 fresh-market crop fetched and about $2 to $3.50 per hundredweight below the cost of production, according to calculations from the University of Idaho.
But with Idaho spud plantings down 8 percent this year to the lowest level since 1980, it's reasonable to expect better fresh-market returns, said UI Extension agriculture economist Paul Patterson.
Idaho growers planted an estimated 295,000 acres of potato this year compared with 320,000 acres in 2009.
New-crop prices so far have been much improved.
Idaho growers received an average of $11.56 per hundredweight for Russet Norkotahs for the week ending Sept. 18, according to a fresh market report from United Potato Growers of Idaho. That's almost double the $6.31 per hundredweight that growers were getting for Norkotahs a year ago.