American Journal of Potato Research

, Volume 95, Issue 5, pp 549–563 | Cite as

An Economic Analysis of the Effects of Harvest Timing on Yield, Quality, and Processing Contract Price for three Potato Varieties

  • Addie WaxmanEmail author
  • Jeffrey Stark
  • Joseph Guenthner
  • Nora Olsen
  • Michael Thornton
  • Richard Novy


Harvesting potatoes at or near physiological maturity increases the likelihood of producing high quality tubers which contributes to producing high quality processed end-product. Some growers harvest earlier than recommended in order to meet contract requirements and supply processors with early potatoes. Early harvest impacts the incentive-adjusted price (IAP) and revenue even after an early harvest incentive is applied. This study utilized a typical frozen processor contract and compared the economic impact of harvest timing (early, normal, and late) on the IAP of three potato varieties: Russet Burbank, Clearwater Russet, and Alpine Russet, grown in field trials at Parma, Idaho during 2014 and 2015. Contract quality incentives included percent of tubers greater than 170 g, percent sugar ends, percent of U.S. No. 1’s, and specific gravity. When compared to normal or late harvest, early harvest resulted in a decrease in the IAP and overall profit due to a significant reduction in specific gravity. Early harvest incentive did not offset the loss of revenue with Russet Burbank, but did offset revenue loss with Clearwater Russet and Alpine Russet. Clearwater Russet and Alpine Russet had significantly lower sugar end scores than Russet Burbank. Clearwater Russet consistently produced higher specific gravities and Alpine Russet produced larger tubers compared to Russet Burbank. Clearwater Russet and Alpine Russet have agronomic characteristics that can provide an increase in IAP over Russet Burbank.


Harvest timing Processing potatoes Incentive adjusted price Early harvest incentives Russet Burbank, Clearwater Russet, Alpine Russet 


La cosecha de las papas durante o cerca de la maduración fisiológica maximiza la producción de tubérculos de alta calidad y genera un producto final procesado de la más alta calidad. Algunos agricultores cosechan más temprano de lo recomendado a fin de cumplir con los requerimientos del contrato y de suministrar a los procesadores con papas tempranas. La cosecha temprana impacta al precio ajustado al incentivo (IAP) y a los ingresos aún después de que se aplica un incentivo por cosecha temprana. Este estudio utilizó un contrato típico de procesamiento congelado y comparó el impacto económico del tiempo de cosecha (temprano, normal y tarde) del IAP de tres variedades de papa: Russet Burbank, Clearwater Russet, y Alpine Russet, cultivadas en ensayos de campo en Parma, Idaho, durante 2014 y 2015. Los incentivos del contrato a la calidad incluyeron el porcentaje de tubérculos más grandes que de 170 gramos, porcentaje de azúcares de los extremos, porcentaje de U. S. 1’s, y gravedad específica. La cosecha temprana resultó en una disminución en el IAP y en la ganancia general debido a una reducción significativa en gravedad específica. El incentivo por cosecha temprana no compensó la pérdida de ingresos con Russet Burbank, pero si lo hizo con Clearwater Russet y Alpine Russet. Estas dos variedades tuvieron significativamente más bajos niveles de azúcares de los extremos que Russet Burbank. Clearwater Russet produjo consistentemente más altas gravedades específicas y Alpine Russet produjo tubérculos más grandes en comparación a Russet Burbank. Clearwater Russet y Alpine Russet tienen características agronómicas que pueden suministrar un aumento en IAP sobre Russet Burbank.



This research was performed as part of the dissertation of Addie Waxman. We wish to thank 1,4GROUP for their financial support of this project. Specifically, we wish to thank John Forsythe for his educational program at 1,4GROUP, Dave Beuerman, Kelly Tesar, and Shane Von Krosigk for the chemical analysis of samples, Lee-Anne Tanaka for project management, and Bill Price and Oksana Morgan for statistical analysis and advice.


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Copyright information

© The Potato Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.1,4GroupMeridianUSA
  2. 2.Idaho Falls R&E CenterUniversity of IdahoIdaho FallsUSA
  3. 3.Emeritus Professor of Agricultural EconomicsUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA
  4. 4.Department of Plant, Soil, and Entomological Sciences, Kimberly Research and Extension CenterUniversity of IdahoKimberlyUSA
  5. 5.Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences, Parma Research and Extension CenterUniversity of IdahoParmaUSA

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