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Red River Valley growers are, from a marketing perspective, well positioned entering the heart of their red potato storage shipping season.

While experiences vary on early-season shipping demand, much of the crop has been moved early -- and a very manageable portion of an average- volume crop.

NoKota Packers Inc., based in Buxton, ND, had strong early movement and is ahead of its five-year average in shipping its red storage potatoes, according to company President Steve Tweten. "We are doing real well" in moving the 2010 crop. The firm will ship into April or May.

"Quality is looking good," he said. "We still have a lot of good potatoes." Randy Boushey, general manager of A&L Potato Co., located in E. Grand Forks, MN, said that the shipping season started slowly but that this winter, prices "are not bad." He added, "They've been moving along pretty steady."

Paul Dolan, manager of Associated Potato Growers Inc. in Grand Forks, ND, said that his company, after a slow start, has "been making it up. Overall movement this year is a little better than last year out of the [Red River] Valley, so that is encouraging."

Cory Seim, a salesman for Northern Valley Growers, a red potato grower- shipper based in Hoople, ND, stated, "We have had a fantastic year as far movement. ... I hope to finish in the middle of March. Typically, we go usually until around May 1."

Grower-shipper David Moquist of O.C. Schultz & Sons Inc. said, "We have been real busy shipping since we started. Movement has been good, obviously, because of that. We are ahead of schedule in shipping. The quality looks good so far. We look forward to good quality throughout the whole deal."

When demand slowed in December, Peatland Reds Inc., located in Trail, MN, took a shipping and packing hiatus. Going into the new year, the firm was back into packing and shipping. Peatland moved about two-thirds of its potato volume before the December break.

Ted Kreis, marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, located in E. Grand Forks, MN, expects prices for Red River Valley potatoes to rise this winter.