Despite the impact of frost to the 2012 potato crop from the Red River Valley, the region’s growers are moving their largest crop since 2008. “It would have been larger if we hadn’t lost 2,100 acres to frost late in the harvest,” said Ted Kreis, marketing director for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN. “That cost us a half million hundredweight of potatoes.”
Movement this marketing season has been brisk. “The Red River Valley had one of its busiest Octobers on record,” Mr. Kreis told The Produce News. “Prices are not where they need to be for growers. But the silver lining is retailers are promoting potatoes again, and consumers are responding,” he said.
He was asked about product quality and sizing this season. “The size profile is fairly typical, maybe a little light on B-size,” Mr. Kreis replied. “Quality is good, especially those harvested in lighter soils and after the precipitation we received in early October.”
Mr. Kreis expects the marketing year will be typical unless current pace of movement continues. “Then we would finish early,” he commented. “Some of our larger sheds always seem to have adequate supplies to ship at least June 1.”
Approximately 60 percent of the Red River Valley’s potatoes are shipped to the Eastern Seaboard. Mr. Kreis was asked whether Hurricane Sandy negatively affected product flow to the region. “Based on our current volume, I would say it has had little effect,” he responded.