San Luis Valley growers expect good potato quality and demand this season.
Jason Tillman, general manager at Monte Vista, Colo.-based Monte Vista Potato Growers, said they haven’t experienced any issues through early September.
“Growing conditions have been good,” Tillman said.
He said he hopes prices will be higher this year compared to last year.
According to Les Alderete, general manager at Center, Colo.-based Skyline Potato Co., prices look similar to last year’s.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Sept. 8 that fifty-pound cartons were selling for $10-12 for sizes 40-70. Fifty-pound cartons sold for $11-12 for sizes 40-60 and $10-12 for 70s at this time last year.
Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the Monte Vista-based Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said prices don’t look so good for the growers this year.
“Washington and Idaho are already selling cheap, so it doesn’t look good price-wise for us,” Ehrlich said.
Center-based Aspen Produce LLC maintains a positive outlook.
“Prices are better,” said Jed Ellithorpe, partner in Aspen Produce LLC. “We look to have a decent market this year,” he said.
For some grower-shippers the season is running behind.
Ehrlich said harvest was just barely getting started the first week of September.
Harvest is pushed back a week or so for Skyline, Alderete said.
“Volumes right now are slow with the new crop,” he said.
In early September harvest was a week from starting for Monte Vista Potato Growers, but this isn’t considered unusual for them, said Tillman.
“I think we will have a normal yield and size,” Tillman said regarding the season.
Aspen Produce already started its season, Ellithorpe said.
“We’ve had no problems this season,” he said. “We’ve had decent rains, making for good growing conditions for spuds.”
Ellithorpe said the size profile looks to be medium for San Luis Valley.
“It’s not lopsided,” he said, “which will really help in terms of getting retail out to customers.”
The sizing of the potato crop this season should help sales.
“Looks like in terms of Colorado supplies, they are going to be balanced, which will look to a better market,” Ellithorpe said.
Alderete said from what he’s looked at so far, he thinks quality will be good this season.
Tillman agreed, saying he expects a good crop this season despite a reduction in acreage.
“Right now we are down in acres,” Ehrlich said of the San Luis Valley. “We went from 55,500 in 2014 to about 52,500 this year.”
For Skyline, overall acreage may be down, but not where organic acreage is concerned, which Ellithorpe said is on the rise.
“Organic production is up 7%,” said Ehrlich, who thinks the organic market will continue to grow.