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CENTER, CO — Following a Thanksgiving season that was "as good as we've had in a long time," Cañon Potato Co. President David Tonso described the first four months of sales for the 2010 potato crop as “vigorous.”

Mr. Tonso said, “We’ve seen a steady rise in price, but we’re working hard to keep it at a slower approach.”

As the result of short supplies nationwide and potatoes from the Northwest being shipped into Canada, Colorado’s position in the domestic market has been strengthened.

“Our in-state sales are good,” the San Luis Valley potato veteran said. “Business with one of the big retail chains in Colorado is up. Our institutional sales are up, and our foodservice sales are also up.” He added, “I think the change in direction from last November’s election has freed up the economy, and people are spending more money.”

He said that Cañon’s volume is down between 10 and 11 percent from 2009, primarily in russets. “We are down a little on yellows, and with reds we are about the same as we were last year,” he said. “Valley-wide production is down slightly.”

Cañon Potato has not seen any quality issues, but Mr. Tonso said that some had been found in other areas of the San Luis Valley.

“[The region] had a warm harvest period, and some potatoes were put away warm. Plus, the nights were so much warmer than normal. It created a different scenario for some shippers,” he said.

Overall, the valley has a shorter crop and will see a shorter season, Mr. Tonso noted. “It’s too early to tell how long we will ship,” he said. “We’ll try to push it as far out as we can.”

Mr. Tonso concluded, “Colorado is making a concerted effort to keep the market from going crazy at the end of the season.”