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The Easter holiday will be a time of good potato movement for Florida Fresh Potato Growers Inc. “March will probably be the heaviest shipping season,” said Ken Wiles, vice president of sales with cooperative member Mack Farms Inc. “I would say movement overall is fairly brisk.”

The organization is a grower cooperative comprised of potato growers in southern Florida. The cooperative moves product to retail, foodservice and wholesale distributors primarily on the Southeast and Eastern Seaboard, Midwest and Canada. Varieties grown and marketed are new-crop red, gold, white, purple and fingerling potatoes.

Mr. Wiles said he expects March potato volume will be up by as much as 10 percent this season.

FL-FreshPotatoGrowersNick Leger, part of the sales team at Mack Farms Inc. in Lake Wales, FL, displays some of the new-crop white potatoes to be marketed. (Photo courtesy of Mack Farms Inc.)Although acreage in the Sunshine State declined by approximately 1,000 acres this season, Mr. Wiles said yields are up slightly in 2013 when compared to last season. “The season started a little earlier this year,” he stated, adding that potato quality is very good.

“Prices are slightly lower because of national supplies,” he went on to say.

Growers in northern Florida experienced two freezes. Because growers found it necessary to cover their plants, their crop will experience a delayed start. “There is going to be a need to stretch the crop out” as a result, Mr. Wiles said.

The cooperative packs potatoes in all consumer packs. Both individual growers’ private labels and co-packed labels are marketed. All product is transported by traditional refrigerated tractor-trailers.

All growers in the cooperative have food-safety programs and third-party audit certification.