A cold, wet spring caused the start of the Wisconsin potato harvest to start more than a week late, but the timing couldn’t have been much better.

Above-average spud crop expected in WisconsinDick Okray, president of Okray Family Farms Inc., Plover, Wis., said growers were still shipping 2013 potatoes from storage in late July, and a short overlap between storage supplies and the fresh crop was expected in early August.

“We plan to segue into the new crop directly from the old one,” he said. “We should have volume right out of the gate.”

USDA prices from Wisconsin were not available at press time because of diminishing supplies from the old crop.

Larry Alsum, President and CEO of Alsum Farms & Produce Inc., Friesland, Wis., said July 21 that the company expected to start its harvest Aug. 5 with reds and whites. Russets and yellows were expected to follow a few days later.

“We had a late spring and a cool summer so far, but the crop is looking very good,” he said. “Our stands are good, and the plant growth has been excellent. We anticipate a very good quality crop.”

Wisconsin typically produces up to 30 million cwt. with roughly 45% of the crop going to the fresh market. Alsum said he expects the 2014 crop to be above average.

“We’ll have promotable volume for Labor Day and through Memorial Day, possibly through the Fourth of July,” he said. “I think we’ll have good yields.”

Randy Shell, vice president of marketing and new business development for RPE Inc., Bancroft, Wis., said volume is expected to ramp up quickly in August.

“There will be plenty of opportunities to promote this season once the new crop gets into full swing,” he said. “Quality looks to be excellent with yields looking to be very good, and we will see a good mix of sizing.”

Mike Carter, CEO of Bushmans’ Inc., Rosholt, cautioned that although growers are optimistic, there still was much work to be done.

“So far the crop looks excellent,” he said July 21. “We were late getting into the fields to plant because of a late spring, but the crop seems to be caught up. The weather this summer has been nearly perfect with little to no extreme heat and timely rains. With that said, the crop is made in August and early September, so while things look great right now, we have a long way to go before the crop is made and under the roof.”