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It’s been a toasty year for members of Associated Potato Growers Inc., located in Grand Forks, ND. “The current season has been a hot one to say the least,” Manager Paul Dolan told The Produce News Sept. 13. “We have had above-normal temperatures for almost a year now. The last two months have been very dry with no substantial rainfall.”

AssociatedPotatoGrowersSteven Grod joined the staff of Associated Potato Growers Inc. on Sept. 3. (Photo courtesy of Associated Potato Growers Inc.)The cooperative is comprised of growers from North Dakota and Minnesota. The organization is one of the larger fresh red potato-packing facilities in the Midwest. Members also grow yellows. Associated Potato Growers has three facilities located in Grand Forks, Grafton and Drayton, ND.

Even with a lack of moisture, the news coming out of the Red River Valley points to a highly promotable crop.

“I am totally amazed at the quality and the hundredweight that we are getting out of this year’s crop,” Mr. Dolan went on to say. “We are having an above-average yield, and I would have to say average quality. We have lost a little color due to the hot and dry conditions. But for the most part, we still have a very marketable crop.”

The 18 grower-members are in all in the process of become GAP-certified. “Our company is on its way to becoming GSI-certified along with being GTIN-compliant by the first of the year,” Mr. Dolan stated.

The cooperative moves potatoes to the South and East under the “Nodak” and “APG” labels. Mr. Dolan said private labels are also available at customer request. “We do a variety of packs, down to a three-pound bag and up to a 2,000-pound tote bag,” he added. “Our mix between repackers, wholesalers and retail is about the same. But we are working on more direct business.”

Associated Potato Growers is in expansion mode, and Mr. Dolan said new storage will be coming online in Grand Forks. “This will add 60,000 hundredweight to our capacity for the Grand Forks plant,” he commented.

On Sept. 3, Steven Grod, who has extensive sales and territory management experience, joined Associated Potato Growers. Prior to joining the cooperative, Mr. Grod most recently served as territory sales manager for Maglio & Co. in Glendale, WI.

“We have also hired Kimberly Bjornstad as a food-safety and quality-control person,” Mr. Dolan said. “She is in charge of our programs at all three packing facilities of Grand Forks, Grafton and Drayton, ND.”