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Basin potato growers optimistic about future
 
 
 
Published Thursday July 28, 2005

By HOLLY OWENS
Fewer acres planted in potatoes, unfavorable weather, delayed planting, and years of poor potato prices are giving Klamath Basin potato growers reason to be optimistic.

Acres planted in potatoes across the United States, at nearly 1.2 million acres, are down 7 percent since last year and are at their lowest point since 1866, when record keeping on the crop began, according to United Potato Growers of America, and a report released this month by the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service.
"It's great news. We're excited. We think we're finally going to make some money in this potato business for a year, maybe two." said Ed Staunton, chairman of United Potato Growers of the Klamath Basin and board member of United Fresh Potato Growers of America. United is a recently formed cooperative of potato growers that operates at both a local and national level.

Reason for optimism comes from the potential for increased crop prices this year due to the combined effects of fewer potatoes planted in both the United States and Canada, and the anticipation of a reduced harvest due to challenging growing conditions this year.

A glut of fresh market potatoes, specifically russet varieties, have created a difficult market for growers in recent years. Growers have been forced to sell potatoes for less than the cost of production, says Jerry Wright, United Potato Growers of America CEO.
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