Irish Potatoes

SIC 0134

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This industry classification includes establishments primarily engaged in the production of potatoes, except sweet potatoes, which are part of SIC 0139: Field Crops Except Cash Grains, Not Elsewhere Classified.

The potato, a member of the nightshade family that produces thick, fleshy tubers from underground stems, has its beginnings in South America. It was brought back to Europe by Spanish explorers early in the sixteenth century. Potato cultivation in colonial America started early in the eighteenth century, but potatoes did not appear in U.S. crop production data until the 1840 census, which listed 160.4 million pounds of potatoes grown.

American per capita potato consumption, which peaked in the early twentieth century at 198 pounds, dropped to about 103 pounds by 1956, rising again at the end of the century. In 2009, the United States Department of Agriculture reported per capita potato consumption of about 118 pounds. Consumption of all vegetables and melons (including potatoes) for 2009 was 422 pounds per capita.

Of total potato sales, about one-fourth (26 percent) are sold fresh. Over 61 percent are processed as frozen french fries, potato chips, starch, or flour, dehydrated, or used in canned products such as soups and stews. Smaller portions are used as seed and livestock feed.

The value of potatoes sold in 2009 was nearly $3.5 billion, down from $3.9 billion in 2008 but up from $2.6 billion in 2003. Price per unit rose during the first decade of the 2000s from $5.88 per cwt in 2003 to $7.51 per cwt in 2007 to a record $8.42 per cwt in 2008. Prices fell by 5 percent in 2009 to $8.00. Export values of U.S. potatoes were also on the rise, with net export value of potatoes and potato products in 2009 reaching $571 million. Three countries--Japan, Canada, and Mexico--account for two-thirds of total U.S. potato exports, most of which consist of processed potatoes, such as frozen french fries, potato chips, and dehydrated potato products. More than half of U.S. potato exports are frozen french fries; 3.3 billion pounds of the popular side dish were shipped out of the United States in 2008. Canada, Mexico, and the Netherlands are the leading importers of potatoes from the United States. The United States has a trade surplus each year in potatoes (i.e., exports exceed imports); the amount varies depending on numerous conditions, such as crop production, domestic consumption, and global demand.

There are more than 80 varieties of potatoes planted in the United States, but six varieties dominate production: Russet Burbank, Russet Norkotah, Atlantic, Ranger Russet, Frito-Lay, and Shepody. White potatoes are the leading vegetable crop in the United States, contributing about 15 percent of farm sales receipts for vegetables. In overall produce sales, potatoes rank second only to grapes in farm sales receipts.

Acreage devoted to potato farming decreased annually in the early and mid-years of the first decade of the twenty-first century, falling from 1.3 million acres in 2002 to less than 1.2 million acres in 2004 and slightly more than 1.1 million acres in 2005. By 2008, the number of acres planted in potatoes was down to 1.06 million acres, the lowest harvested area since records were kept, beginning in 1866. In 2009, acres planted increased slightly to 1.07 million acres. Nevertheless, the average yield per acre for potatoes remained high. The average yield hovered in the low-390s cwt during the early and middle part of the first decade of the 2000s and reached 395 cwt and 411 cwt per acre in 2008 and 2009, respectively. By the early 2010s, only about 15,000 farms produced potatoes, down from a reported 51,500 in the early 1970s.

Potatoes were grown commercially in 36 states in the early 2010s, but more than 50 percent of the potato crop was produced by just two states, Idaho and Washington. Western states accounted for 65 percent of total U.S. potato production, while central states, led by North Dakota, produced another 25 percent, and eastern states, led by Maine, made up the remaining 10 percent.

Mechanization revolutionized potato farming by reducing the amount of manual labor involved. Seed potatoes (precut sections of potato) are planted using an automatic planter pulled behind a tractor. Such planters can plant four or more rows at a time and require only a tractor driver and a tender. Potatoes are harvested mechanically as well, with machines that dig out the entire potato plant, shake free excess dirt and rocks, and deposit the potatoes in an adjacent truck. In the southern United States, potato farmers are able to reap four harvests per year, while in the northwestern states, where most of the U.S. crop is grown, potatoes are harvested primarily in the fall. After they are harvested, potatoes are placed in cool (45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit), humid storage areas to allow for healing of surface damage, a process called curing. Because potatoes are distributed throughout the year, roughly 63 percent of each year's potato crop is placed in storage, where the potatoes are maintained in carefully controlled conditions to prevent rot, dehydration, and a wide range of diseases.

In recent years, as research revealed more about the potato as a source of nutrition and vitamins, and about its chemistry (how it is metabolized and synthesized by the human body), scientists and researchers have come to some interesting conclusions. Some nutritionists and scientists recommend that the potato should be reclassified as a complex carbohydrate, along with rice and pasta, rather than as a vegetable. Baked fresh potatoes, particularly when eaten with the skin, have excellent nutritional value, providing nearly 50 percent of recommended daily vitamins C and B6, potassium and fiber, and zero grams of fat.

Prices for fresh potatoes reached record highs during the first six months of 2008-09 marketing season, ranging between $12.36 and $19.39 per cwt. In contrast, prices fell nearly in half during the first half of 2009-10 market season, ranging from $9.77 per cwt in September 2009 to $5.74 per cwt in January 2010. The lower prices were a result of an abundant supply of tablestock potatoes in the market. Generally, although acres planted remained relatively stable, yields increased somewhat during the late years of the first decade of the 2000s. During the first half of the 2010-11 season, stocks were above the previous year, driving prices downward. Exports were down slightly in the first half of the 2009-10 marketing season, partially due to a 20 percent tariff imposed by Mexico on U.S. frozen potato products (primarily french fries). Specifically, year-on-year total exports to Mexico were down 33 percent in January and February 2010 compared to January and February 2009.

© COPYRIGHT 2018 The Gale Group, Inc. This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group. For permission to reuse this article, contact the Copyright Clearance Center.

News and information about Irish Potatoes

Ams Issues Final Rule about Irish Potatoes Grown in Southeastern States
US Fed News Service, Including US State News; August 19, 2015; 444 words
...Agriculture (USDA), has issued a final rule called: Irish Potatoes Grown in Southeastern States; Suspension of Marketing...the previous suspension of the marketing order for Irish potatoes grown in Southeastern states (order). The interim...
USDA Issues Interim Rule Relaxing Handling Requirements of Certain Irish Potatoes Grown in Colorado
Mondaq Business Briefing; February 10, 2015; 348 words
...s Agricultural Marketing Service ("AMS") issued an interim rule revising the minimum quantity exception for Irish potatoes handled under the Colorado potato marketing order, Area No. 3 (order). The interim rule increases the quantity...
US Fed News Service, Including US State News; January 28, 2011; 347 words
...Service has issued a notice called: Irish Potatoes Grown in Certain Designated Counties...conducted among eligible producers of Irish potatoes in certain designated counties...order regulating the handling of Irish potatoes grown in the production area...
US Fed News Service, Including US State News; October 23, 2011; 395 words
...has issued a final rule called: Irish Potatoes Grown in Southeastern States...suspended the marketing order for Irish potatoes grown in Southeastern states...order regulates the handling of Irish potatoes grown in Southeastern states and...
Fund Launched to Grow Irish Potatoes in Africa
The Irish Times; June 14, 2012; 393 words
...Launching a new [euro]5 million aid programme to grow Irish potatoes in Gamo Gofa in Southern Ethiopia, Minister for Agriculture...he said. The initiative to increase the supply of Irish potatoes in southern Ethiopia involves local farmers taking...
US Fed News Service, Including US State News; March 24, 2011; 314 words
...Marketing Service has issued a proposed rule called: Irish Potatoes Grown in Washington; Continuance Referendum. The...of the marketing order regulating the handling of Irish potatoes grown in Washington." For more information, contact...
Agricultural Marketing Service Issues Proposed Rule about Irish Potatoes Grown in Modoc and Siskiyou Counties
US Fed News Service, Including US State News; July 25, 2013; 487 words
...Marketing Service has issued a proposed rule called: Irish Potatoes Grown in Modoc and Siskiyou Counties, California...947 (order), which regulates the handling of Irish potatoes grown in Modoc and Siskiyou Counties, California...
Rwanda : PRIVATE Sector Urged to Invest in IRISH Potatoes
Mena Report; January 25, 2014; 327 words
...the private industry has been asked to invest in Irish potatoes. It was decided that steps should be taken to limit...High Learning Institution INES, met. The cost of Irish potatoes soared to Rwf300 per kilogramme from July to November...

Search all articles about Irish Potatoes