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Okray slows packing to extend season

by Tad Thompson | January 11, 2011
In mid-January, Okray Family Farms Inc. was packing russet potatoes only four days a week in a deliberate effort to slow shipping volume and lengthen the sales calendar for a short crop.

On Jan. 12, Mike Finnessy, a family owner (his mother was an Okray) of the grower-packer based in Plover, WI, indicated that Wisconsin's russet stocks on hand were down almost 1 million hundredweight over the previous year.

"Prices have been rising steadily, and we expect more increases as we go along," Mr. Finnessy said.

Okray Farms is bringing red potatoes from North Dakota to pack and ship. In a similar fashion, the firm is buying yellow potatoes from Colorado. “We have our own russets left. We hope to make it into June” shipping russets. For the firm, the yellow and red potatoes “are an add-on to russets. We have a couple pallets of each on a truck. We seldom ship straight loads of either” variety of colored-skin potatoes.

Mr. Finnessy said that his company expects to initiate some new products this spring. This will include “some shrink wrapping” of potatoes. “We will see what happens. The business is changing all the time.”