A wet spring isn’t putting a damper on the fall for Red River Valley potato growers.
“We had 22 inches of rain from April 27 to July 1,” said Chad Heimbuch, sales manager for Heimbuch Potatoes, Cogswell, N.D. “The average precipitation — snow and rain — for the entire year is 15 to 18 inches. We lost a few acres, but the crop looks pretty good.”
Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, East Grand Forks, Minn., estimated the area will produce 4.2 million to 4.5 million cwt of potatoes for the fresh market. More than 90% of the crop is red potatoes.
“I was concerned about yields after the spring we had, but I’m happier than I thought I would be,” said Greg Hall, a co-owner of J.G. Hall & Sons, Edinburg, N.D. “We have nice color, and sizing looks beautiful. We’ll have a fair amount of Bs, As and premiums.”
Black Gold Farms, Grand Forks, N.D., lost 15% of its acreage because of the wet spring, but operations and sales coordinator Keith Groven said strong yields were making up for the lost acreage.
“We’re seeing the best harvest conditions we’ve had in the past three or four years,” Groven said. “The past few years have been drier and warmer than what is ideal. This year we have had the right amount of moisture leading up to harvest and cooler temperatures, so the potatoes have gone into storage in really nice condition.”
NoKota Packers, Buxton, N.D., started shipping Sept. 8, said president and CEO Steve Tweeten, who added that the company had “plenty of volume and great color.”
Several other sources, however, said that shipping wouldn’t start until all their acreage was harvested. For example, O.C. Schultz & Sons Inc., Crystal, N.D., started its harvest Sept. 15. Co-owner Dave Moquist said shipping would start after harvest is completed in mid-October.
“Quality looks very good, and we’ll have adequate supplies,” he said.
Heimbuch said there will be ample volume for Thanksgiving and Christmas promotions.
“Our big season starts late October or Nov. 1 through Thanksgiving,” he said. “Our Thanksgiving push starts Nov. 1.”
Prices from the Red River Valley were not available for the USDA’s Sept. 30 report. However, five 10-pound film bags of U.S. No. 1 round reds from Wisconsin were $8.50-9.50.