To say that the folks behind Peatland Reds have been busy the past few months is an understatement.
The Trail, Minn.-based grower-shipper of red potatoes just installed a four-lane Ag-Sort E-Sorter.
In addition, the company unveiled two box designs for this season and plans to launch individually shrink-wrapped microwaveable large red potatoes in the coming months.
The family-owned Peatland Reds grows only red potatoes in thick peat soil about 65 miles east of the Red River.
Potatoes coming from the field are washed in artesian well water and polished in a Root-Veg barrel washer before being run through an Odenberg electronic sorter.
“The peat soil doesn’t stick to the potatoes, so they’re almost clean by the time they come to the polisher,” said partner and manager Dennis Magnell.
Based on size, the tubers are diverted into one of seven tanks.
As orders come in, potatoes are pulled from the appropriate tank and run through the Ag Sort E-sorter and past a couple of hand graders before packing.
The new sorter is an insurance policy in case he no longer can find qualified hand graders, he said.
Altogether, each red potato will be inspected three times to ensure quality before packing.
This season, Peatland Reds also introduced two box logos, both on black backgrounds.
“There’s nothing nicer looking than red potatoes in a black box,” Magnell said.
Even before the boxes were delivered in late September, he said he received calls almost daily wondering if they’d arrived.
“People are very excited,” Magnell said.
The Diamond Brand logo features a silver-colored jewelers-faceted diamond with red lettering below.
It will be used mainly for business at the Hunts Point Terminal Market in New York.
The Family Farm Value label, featuring a family of red potatoes in descending size — father, mother, brother and sister — will be used for other business.
At the request of a retailer, he said the Family Farm Value logo also will be used on some 5-pound bags.
Wrapped reds coming
Later this fall, Peatland Reds plans to launch large individually wrapped microwaveable red potatoes.
“We raise some pretty hefty-size potatoes,” Magnell said. “Being they’re grown in the peat soil, no matter how big they get they never hollow in the middle.”