It’s not déjà vu all over again for O.C. Shulz & Sons Inc. And Dave Moquist, the company’s secretary-treasurer, said that’s a good thing. “It was such a pleasure this year compared to last,” he told The Produce News on Sept. 12.
“We had adequate moisture and excellent conditions for planting and the early stages of growing. It turned hot and dry for the rest of the growing season after July 4. It looks like the moisture in our area turned out to be adequate.”
The company is located in Crystal, ND, and is a grower-packer-shipper of quality red potatoes, 90 percent of which are sold to the fresh market. Spring conditions during 2011 were cold and wet. When June hit, so did the rain.
The current season is a sharp contrast with those conditions. “The dry soil affects our digging conditions more than anything,” Mr. Moquist explained. “We would like more soil moisture to cushion the potatoes and soften any lumps we may have during harvest. However, what we have dug so far looks good for quality, and we have average to above average yields. Size is normal.”
The harvest ramped up in mid-September and is expected to finish in early October.
“Compared to last year, our supplies are back to normal, and we look forward to a great shipping season,” Mr. Moquist added.
Potatoes are primarily marketed east of a line drawn from North Dakota to Texas under the “Crystal Champ” label, with additional product sold under the “Schulz Gourmet” label. The biggest share of potatoes is sold to wholesalers and repackers. This season, Mr. Moquist said the company is doing a little more business with retailers and foodservice.
This is the third year O.C. Schulz has grown the Sierra Rose potato variety for Discovery Garden’s LLC, headquartered in Oakland, CA. “We are continuing with the program for this marketing year and hope it continues to grow,” Mr. Moquist went on to say. “Their strongest area is still on the West Coast. But it continues to build in the Midwest.”