Potato yields should be light in some areas of Colorado’s San Luis Valley this season, but volumes should be promotable.

Over half of the crop marketed by Center, Colo.-based Aspen Produce LLC could have average or below-average yields due to smaller sets, said Jed Ellithorpe, partner and marketing director.

“We’ll certainly have a lot of potatoes, just not as much as we had hoped,” he said.

By the week of Aug. 29, most of the company’s growers should be in production, but volumes won’t begin shipping until September, Ellithorpe said. The quality of the San Luis Valley russet crop looked “wonderful” the week of Aug. 8, Ellithorpe said. When the new crop begins shipping, Ellithorpe is optimistic prices won’t come down too far, too fast from the lofty heights of recent months.

“Major gyrations don’t do anybody any good,” he said. “It needs to taper off gradually, transition into something that’s palatable to retailers.”

On Aug. 9, 50-pound cartons of storage russets 40-80s from Colorado were selling for $18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year at the same time, russet cartons from Idaho were $11.50-13.50.

Some new-crop potatoes will ship from Colorado in late August, but the deal won’t begin in earnest until after Labor Day, a typical start, said Bob Noffsinger, salesman for Center, Colo.-based Skyline Potato Co.

Skyline wrapped up its 2010-11 storage deal the week of Aug. 8, and planned to ship new-crop Kansas and Nebraska spuds through the week of Aug. 15, Noffsinger said.

Kurt Holland, sales manager for Center-based Mountain Valley Produce LLC, said growers marketed by the company expected to begin digging Aug. 10 or Aug. 11. Good growing weather as the season progressed made up for a sluggish start, Holland said.

“Early on it was a little touch-and-go, but we’ve had good heat, cool nights,” he said. “They should bulk up.”

Holland expected a seamless transition from old-crop to new-crop Colorado potatoes.

Summer in the San Luis Valley was dry with temperatures slightly on the high side, Noffsinger said. But growers didn’t have any hail or other severe weather to worry about.

“The overall quality should be good, and the yields close to average,” Noffsinger said.

Valley acreage is down about 1,500 acres this season, Noffsinger said.

Noffsinger expects continued strong demand when new-crop Colorado russets begin shipping.