Courtesy Wada FarmsWada Farms, which markets potatoes for Worley & McCullough Inc., Monte Vista, Colo., started harvesting in San Luis on Aug. 19.Potatoes from the San Luis Valley may be slightly smaller this year, said Les Alderete, general manager at Center-based Skyline Potato Co.
Skyline began the new deal the last week of August.
Shane Watt, vice president of sourcing and grower relations at Wada Farms Marketing Group, Idaho Falls, Idaho, agreed.
“Quality looks excellent. The first indicators of the size profile indicate a little smaller crop,” he said.
Jed Ellithorpe, a partner in Aspen Produce LLC, Center, Colo., said he has seen signs of reduced yields this year.
“We haven’t seen any quality issues at all, but the yield trials we conducted across the farm show the yields may be slightly down,” he said.
Paired with reduced acreage across the valley, and there may be fewer potatoes shipped from that region this year.
“If that yield trend spans clear across the valley like how we’ve seen it on our farms, there will be less production this year, no doubt about it,” Ellithorpe said.
Watt says the drought is a large factor.
“Water is probably the biggest limiting factor on the available supplies and the yield,” he said.
Smoke from the West Fork fire also caused some delays, Ellithorpe said.
“There was a layer of smoke over the north half of the San Luis valley for about three weeks,” he said.
The smoke cover essentially caused several weeks of cloudy weather in a crucial growing time when the crops need sunshine.
“That really slowed those potatoes down quite a bit and had an impact on yield,” Ellithorpe said.
In addition, after the smoke cleared, the valley had some rainy weather, which was welcome in terms of moisture, even though it slowed the crop growth even more.
“We welcomed the rain. It was quite the blessing, even though it was more cloudy weather,” Ellithorpe said.