Vegetables and Melons Outlook August 2010

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USDA.pngHarvested area for fall-season potatoes is forecast at 882,300 acres, 4 percent lower than 2009. Given average yields, fall potato production is expected to decline from the 393.5 million hundredweight of a year earlier. Because of tighter world supplies, grower prices are expected to average above year-earlier levels during the 2010/11 marketing year.

This summer, with slowly improving demand outweighing good availability, freshmarket vegetable farm prices are likely to ease from the highs of this past spring, but still average above the lows of a year earlier. Assuming no disruptions from tropical weather over the next month, shipping-point prices for summer fresh-market vegetables are expected to average about a tenth above a year earlier. Despite increased area, average retail prices for melons trended lower through July but are expected to rise by late August as watermelon supply tightens.

In 2010, contract area for harvest of the five major processing vegetables (tomatoes, sweet corn, snap beans, green peas, and cucumbers) is expected to total 1.09 million acres—down 11 percent from a year ago. Assuming 3-year average yields, output of the five leading processing vegetables could total about 17 million short tons—down about a tenth from last year’s strong production. As a result, continued easing of wholesale prices is anticipated this fall.

Gary Lucier
Lewrene Glaser
USDA Economic Research Service