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Center, CO — “We had good holiday sales, and our business hasn’t been bad,” David Tonso, president of Cañon Potato Co. in Center, CO, said in late December.

The season, which had gotten off to a slow start, picked up during Thanksgiving and stayed steady, Mr. Tonso added.

However, due to the San Luis Valley’s critical water shortage and lower yields, acreage had been cut back, and supplies were short.

“We’re down between 33 and 35 percent,” Mr. Tonso said of stocks. “That’s across the board, in every variety. And we will clean up in May.”

canon-potato-slv-jan.-28-20In much warmer temperatures last August, the Cañon Potato Co. family posed beneath the well-known logo on the side of the shed in Center, CO. Shown are Stan David, Tina Killinen, David and Hope Tonso and Matt Glowczewski.The veteran potato shipper said although movement had been steady for his and other Colorado sheds, pricing had been “horrible” due to increased production in the Northwest. He said, “We’ll see what happens after the first of the year.”

Mr. Tonso did note that yellow demand was down somewhat, and the call for reds was average “or a little above average.” He added that foodservice was seeing an increase in sales.

While pricing was in question, one deciding factor in the San Luis Valley’s potato industry doesn’t look as though it will change significantly in 2013. That is water — and lack thereof.

“With the water situation and the value of other commodities being higher, I don’t see potato acres in this valley going up this year,” Mr. Tonso said.

The grower base for Cañon Potato Co. will be watching its plantings in the coming season, and he said, “We’re going to try to make it more profitable for 2013. And it’s likely we’ll decrease our acreage again.”

Cañon Potato did upgrade prior to the 2012 shipping season, installing a new system for printing Global Trade Item, or GTIN, numbers on all containers for greater traceability. The packing facility also adopted SQF auditing for food safety.