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How Do We Have Potatoes Year-Round?

Potatoes are the most popular produce item in the world, so to say it’s essential to keep a steady supply available year-round may be the understatement of the century. Potatoes are grown in over 100 countries worldwide, almost 360 million tons yearly. With popularity continuously increasing, supply and demand for potatoes are constantly growing.

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Where and When Are Potatoes Grown Year-Round?

Potatoes continue to be great worldwide thanks to their adaptability to just about any climate. Ideal growing conditions include cool weather, a steady supply of rain, and deep fertile soil. Aside from a select few hot climate countries, these conditions can be found anywhere. Currently, China leads the world in potato production, alongside other produce items like peaches and tomatoes. Behind China, India, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States round out the top five in the highest production. And because these countries are spread out geographically, climates are different, leading to numerous growing seasons.

There are four growing regions in a large, populous country like China. The Northern zone is a single-crop producer which accounts for 49 percent of the crop’s yield and is planted and harvested from spring to late summer. The Southwestern zone is a mixed-crop area that produces potatoes year-round, leading to 39 percent of overall production. Central and Winter, the other two zones, account for just 12 percent of production. The Central zone grows in the spring and fall, while the Winter zone grows predominantly in the winter months.

Lowland areas and cooler climates are ideal growing conditions for potatoes. The rest of the top countries in production typically stick to these guidelines each year to ensure the highest possible yield. In Russia and Ukraine, potatoes are grown in the northern provinces during summer, planting as early as March and harvesting anywhere from June to September. India grows potatoes in 23 states with a planting and harvesting time frame of mid-June through November.

United States Potato Production Year-Round

The United States helps contribute to the year-round supply of potatoes by growing roughly 20 million tons yearly. Potatoes are grown in 30 states, with Idaho and Washington leading the way. The rainy, cool climate of the Pacific Northwest provides optimal growing conditions for potatoes, helping Idaho remain the top producer year after year. Idaho produced 7.2 million tons of potatoes in 2021, providing 1/3 of the U.S.’s total production. Washington followed suit with a productive 2021, growing 5.2 million tons. Wisconsin (1.6 million), Oregon (1.5 million), and North Dakota (1.2 million) round out the top five states.

World Potato Production in 2020 (Tons)

World Potato Exports in 2021

  • Netherlands: US$821.2 million (19% of exported raw potatoes)
  • France: $666.1 million (15.4%)
  • Germany: $382.5 million (8.9%)
  • Canada: $292.4 million (6.8%)
  • United States: $275.9 million (6.4%)
  • Egypt: $200.2 million (4.6%)
  • China: $196.4 million (4.5%)
  • Belgium: $181.5 million (4.2%)
  • United Kingdom: $143.1 million (3.3%)
  • Spain: $132.4 million (3.1%)
  • Pakistan: $112.8 million (2.6%)
  • Israel: $79.8 million (1.8%)
  • India: $70.9 million (1.6%)
  • Belarus: $67.7 million (1.6%)

Harvesting and Packaging Potatoes Potatoes Year-Round

Many people think of Ireland or Idaho as the birthplace and home of the potato. And while the nutrient-dense food is grown in both locations, the origin of the potato dates back to the Inca Indians in Peru between 8,000 and 5,000 BC. Today, potatoes are grown in over 100 countries, and since 1960, potatoes have taken over produce production in developing countries across the globe.

Much like its root vegetable relative onions, potatoes are a cool weather vegetable, which means they need to be planted between the end of winter months and the beginning of the spring. It is recommended that for best results, potatoes should be planted two to three weeks following the location’s final frost of the winter season. In the U.S., potatoes are grown year-round, and for some farmers, in three stages. In the early stage, or “first early potatoes,” the crop is planted in late February-early March and is harvested at egg-size around Mid-May to early June. The second stage, or second early potatoes, are similar in size and spacing as first early potatoes and are planted a month after. Harvest times for second early potatoes ranges from mid-August to early October. The third stage, referred to as “main crop potatoes,” are grown to maturity and experience a plant-to-harvest cycle ranging from late-February to early-October.

When it comes time to harvest potatoes, sellers should be aware of the different temperatures and handling guidelines for the various types of potatoes being grown. First and second, early potatoes are harvested before maturity, which leads to thinner, more damage-prone skins. Despite this, potatoes possess the ability to self-heal thanks to the presence of suberin in potato periderm (potato skin). Suberin is a cell wall-associated biopolymer found in underground organisms such as potatoes. Suberin within the potato periderm allows for self-healing to take place.

Ideal conditions for this process recommend storing or transporting potatoes in a climate of 50-to-60 degrees Fahrenheit. For potatoes that are harvested at the height of maturity, transit temperatures range from 40-to-50 degrees Fahrenheit. All potatoes should be loaded and stored with optimal airflow to allow for cooling throughout transport. Potatoes should be transported in burlap or master bags which are palletized. Or they can be shipped by palletized fiberboard boxes. Potatoes, like other produce items, can be easily and safely transported by use of a reefer trailer. These trailers can ensure temperature and humidity levels remain constant. Bruising and chemical reactions can be prevented by proper handling and temperature control throughout the packaging and shipping process.

Tariffs on Potatoes

For the Harmonized System (HS) code 070190, Potatoes; Fresh or Chilled, potatoes continued to rank well compared to a long list of traded products in 2020. Out of 1,217 items, potatoes ranked 524th, raking in $4.36 billion. In 2020, the top exporting countries were France ($577M), Germany ($329M), Netherlands ($289M), Canada ($258M), and Egypt ($251M). The top importers were Belgium ($297M), the Netherlands ($250M), the United States ($248M), Spain ($241M), and Germany ($190M). The average potato tariff in 2018 was 26.9 percent, the 160th lowest tariff according to the HS6 product classification.

Shipping Potatoes Year-Round, with FreightCenter

Shipping potatoes, or any produce, can be a complicated process. This leads to many farmers and sellers searching for the safest and most efficient way to ship produce. And this is where a third-party logistics provider (3PL) like FreightCenter can help. FreightCenter’s team of trusted and knowledgeable shipping experts can help can help find the best carrier with the lowest rates for any and all shipments of potatoes. Interested in learning about shipping accessorials that can make the shipping process even easier? Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 8007167608 or run a free online freight quote today!

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