San Luis potato growers report good quality, average yields

09/07/2012 10:51:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Potatoes from Colorado’s San Luis Valley began shipping early this year, with some shippers digging by the week of Aug. 27.

Worley & McCullough Inc., Monte Vista, Colo., began harvesting norkotahs Aug. 27, said Trampas McCormick, manager.

“The quality is excellent,” McCormick said. “Overall, I think we’ll see pretty good quality and average yields.”

Mother Nature sent growers on a bit of a roller coaster, McCormick said, but in the end, brought them safely to harvest.

“It was a little hot in June, but it cooled down and August turned out to be nice,” he said.

Some fields were expected to yield big spuds, while other fields hit by hail may produce smaller potatoes, McCormick said. Overall, he expected a normal size profile with a good mix of sizes.

Center, Colo.-based Canon Potato Co. began digging the week of Sept. 3 and expected to begin shipping in volume by mid- to late September, said David Tonso, co-owner.

“We’re trying to clean up our Greeley deal” before ramping up valley supplies, Tonso said Aug. 28. “It’s kind of a juggling game.”

Tonso reported good quality at the beginning of the valley deal.

“I’m very happy with what I’ve seen,” he said. “There’s plenty of size, but it’s very uniform. It looks like a real good year.”

Tonso expected average yields from his fields, though he had heard that other valley growers were reporting below-average yields.

Statewide, acreage should wind up being similar to last year, about 57,000 acres, Tonso said. The valley’s acreage was projected to be up slightly this year, but hail and drought kept it at around last year’s total.

After a slow start in late August, valley growers were expected to kick things into high gear by about the week of Sept. 10, said Steve Tillman, manager of Monte Vista Potato Grower Co-op
Association, Monte Vista.

“They’re doing a little digging now, very scattered,” Tillman said Aug. 28. “It will be a couple of weeks yet before everybody’s in the thick of it.”

The co-op expects to open its shed about Oct. 1, a normal start, Tillman said. Acreage is similar to last season for co-op growers, he said.

Good range of sizes

Bancroft, Wis-based RPE Inc. expects good quality and size profile for its San Luis Valley potato crop this season, said Randy Shell, vice president of marketing and new business development.


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