San Luis potato growers report good quality, average yields

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

“There is a good range of sizes to meet all of our customers’ needs this year on russets, reds and yellow potatoes for foodservice and retail,” he said. “The quality of the crop is excellent.”

In August, RPE entered into a sales partnership with Lynn McCullough and Jeffery McCullough, who own Monte Vista-based Spud Seller Inc., Spud Grower Farms LLC and Lynn McCullough Farms LLC.

The deal makes RPE the exclusive marketer for Spud Seller and Spud Grower Farms.

In August the valley crop was running about five days ahead of schedule for Center, Colo.-based Aspen Produce LLC, said Jed Ellithorpe, a partner and marketing director.

By the end of the month, Aspen expected to be up and running with decent volumes.

Heat and drought took the edge off what was otherwise excellent growing weather, said Bob Noffsinger, a salesman for Center-based Skyline Potato Co.

“There wasn’t a lot of severe weather, but we’ve dealt with dry, hot weather,” Noffsinger said. “It’s just an average season.”

Skyline’s 2012 acreage is comparable to the past two or three years, Noffinger said.

Aspen’s acreage is up slightly, and Ellithorpe said he also expects slightly higher yields in 2012. Industrywide, overall acreage could be down slightly this season because of the drought, he said.

Ellithorpe reported good quality and size heading into harvest.

On Aug. 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $10 for 50-pound cartons of russets 40-70 from Idaho, down from $17 last year at the same time.

Storage hanging on

Some shippers are hanging on to storage spuds longer than usual because it’s much easier to manage their temperatures, and there is no guarantee all old-crop spuds will be out of the pipeline by the time new-crop potatoes begin shipping, Ellithorpe said.

“If you’re going to be messing around this time of year with old crop, there’s a chance you may not sell all of it,” he said.

That said, he expects a fairly good transition from old-crop to new-crop valley potatoes this year.

Normally, storage spuds are cleaned out by early August, Noffsinger said. That’s not the case this year, but he said there wouldn’t be enough to clog the pipeline once new-crop spuds begin shipping.

Quality was looking good as of the week of Aug. 6, Ellithorpe said.

“We’ve been digging around, and we’re really pleased with what we see,” he said. “It looks like an excellent crop.”



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