Coronavirus Pandemic Yields Different Realities For Northwest Potato And Apple Growers


The coronavirus pestilence continues to make a participation famous in all facets of daily life, including agriculture. That extends to some supply and direct economics lessons for Northwest apple and potato growers.

Potato Cuts  

Some of a largest potato processors in a universe are dramatically slicing behind their engaged acres with farmers this spring. 

That’s mostly since a tellurian pestilence has sealed restaurants, and therefore direct for solidified french fries. 

This potato stand cut behind means big-money-hurt in Washington and Oregon plantation country. The Columbia Basin is one of a world’s many prolific areas to grow potatoes for solidified fries. But fries are in reduction direct now that many restaurants are sealed or customarily doing takeout. 

Three vast processors —  McCain, Lamb Weston and Simplot — have cut behind a acreage engaged with farmers. So far, a cuts operation from 14 to 50%, and competence get even bigger. 

Gilbert Hintz farms potatoes in Ephrata, Washington. He says Lamb Weston cut his agreement from 500 acres to 250. He says a costs he’s already incurred for those acres is about $300,000. But Hintz is perplexing to stay upbeat and is looking for increase in other tools of his operation. 

“The sky is blue in eastern Washington. we got a thousand conduct of organic steers that we’re going to pull to new pasture this morning,” Hintz said. “I’m thankful. we don’t consider we can make a  career out of being a whiner.” 

Most all potatoes grown for fries and crush browns are engaged forward of time according to Dale Lathim with a Potato Growers of Washington. 

“Growing potatoes but a agreement is a really unsure business,” Lathim said. “It costs about between $4,000 and $5,000 dollars an hactare to grow these potatoes. With only a hopes that we can find a marketplace for them. For those that do it, they have to have very, really low pockets means it’s a good risk.”

Cutting famers’ contracts now leaves them holding a bill. Many farmers have already spent $1,200 an hactare so distant this deteriorate removing ready: They’ve rented ground, fumigated, fertilized and in some cases already planted acreage. 

How ‘Bout Them Apples?

On a ground, potatoes are one story. But aloft adult in a air, a tree-fruit apples are a opposite one.

About one-third of a large Washington apple stand is customarily exported. But with a tellurian pandemic, that series has forsaken significantly. Shipping, trucking and selling systems have damaged down with coronavirus. But apple farmers aren’t spiteful as many as we competence expect.

Apples are a largest, and many valuable, stand in a Northwest. Last deteriorate they brought in $2 billion. But it’s been harder to strech a tip trade markets in Mexico, Canada, Taiwan and India. The startling bit is that U.S. consumers are holding adult some of that slack

Todd Fryhover with a Washington Apple Commission says domestic apple sales have surged lately.

“You know, apples store well. They boat good and store well. Consumers can collect them up, and know that in a week they are going to be good, healthy and nutritious,” Fryover said. “Versus some other line that don’t final as prolonged on a shelf.”

That’s accurately because business are shopping apples: everybody is looking for food that will reason in a pantry.

“I consider consumers are perplexing to eat some-more uninformed furnish to stay healthy and fight this virus,” Fryover said.

Growers and shippers of other arriving crops are examination apples carefully. Northwest cherries are value about $900 million. Washington booze is a $2 billion business, including $50 million of exports. And Oregon booze was valued during $607 million.

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