Potatoes, other Skagit Valley crops should bring good supplies

08/31/2012 11:19:00 AM
Coral Beach

Thanks to better weather than last year, the Skagit Valley off the Puget Sound is living up to its reputation of having some of the best growing conditions for a wide variety of produce, such as blueberries, squash, lettuce and potatoes.

Red, yellow, white and even a few purple potatoes are just about ready to come out of the ground, said Cliff Corwin, marketing and sales manager at Skagit Valley’s Best Produce Inc., which is a subsidiary of Smith & Morrison Farms LLC, Mount Vernon, Wash.

“We’ll probably run a test late this week to check the skin set,” Corwin said Aug. 27. “Harvest should begin in 10 days to two weeks.”

Unlike so many regions of the country, weather hasn’t been a problem in the Skagit Valley this year, Corwin said.

“The weather’s been nothing like last year. The spuds are looking really good,” Corwin said.

Known for its red, white and yellow potatoes, Skagit Valley’s Best sometimes grows purple potatoes, and 2012 is one of those times, Corwin said. He said similar yields to last season are anticipated.

“It’s too early to tell about prices, but the market is depressed slightly now. We’ll have a better idea about pricing after we start digging,” Corwin said.

At Valley Pride Sales, Mount Vernon, sales manager Dale Hayton has similar expectations for potatoes this season. He predicts a Sept. 10 start for the harvest, and he also noted weak prices lately. Valley Pride is the packer, shipper and marketer for grower Country Cousins Inc., Mount Vernon.

“I do sense a change coming,” Hayton said. “As school gets going and people are back at home, more are making their meals instead of eating out, and we should see more demand and better prices.”

Other crops

Hayton said growers of broccoli, cauliflower and cucumbers are enjoying success this year, despite unusually dry conditions beginning during the end of July.

Blueberries are also thriving in Skagit Valley, according to Susan and Harley Soltes, who bought Anderson’s Blueberry Farm last year. Operating as Bow Hill Blueberries now, the 6-acre farm’s record year was 90,000 pounds of berries.

The couple also owns a high tunnel in Skagit Valley that is certified organic. The Soltes planted raspberries there, but the bushes aren’t producing fruit yet. Harley Soltes said the bell peppers and tomatoes in the tunnel are thriving, though.

Andy Ross, owner of Skagit Flats Farms is just as optimistic as his fellow Mount Vernon growers as he produces his lettuce and summer squash.

Ross said he has been delayed about two weeks all year, but he’s got good quality and good yields.

Prices for lettuce and squash have been decent, Ross said, but cucumbers are selling slightly under where he expected them to be by the end of August.

Staff writer Kayla Banzet contributed to this story.



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