Black Gold Farms is irrigating more of this year"s crop of red potatoes from the Red River Valley.

Grand Forks, N.D.-based Black Gold, which began its harvest the week of Sept. 7, irrigated on a limited scale last season, CEO Eric Halverson said in a news release.

Because of good results from last year"s trial, the company decided to irrigate more land this year.

"There really is not much irrigated red potato production done in the Red River Valley," Halverson said in the release. "Our decision really paid off, as it was a dry summer and the crop under the pivots will be the best potatoes we harvest."

Black Gold"s harvest is expected to last about four weeks.

In addition to the increased irrigation, Black Gold Farms has boosted production of two newer varieties, the sangres and the dakota ruby red. Keith Groven, Black Gold"s fresh sales manager, said in the release that the sangres stores well and the dakota ruby red is a premium variety, with a consistent round shape, vibrant red color and smooth skin.

Also new at Black Gold, the company made major upgrades to its East Grand Forks, Minn., packing facility in preparation for this season.

"We"ve invested heavily in upgrades to our humidity and ventilation operations, and we"ve also made plans that will help increase our overall packing and storage capacity," Halverson said in the release. "In addition, our Odenberg optical sorter is a huge help to ensure consistent quality and increase our desired output all season."