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Thomas E. Moore expecting good-quality potato crop to run slightly late this year

Tom Cullen, vice president of Thomas E. Moore in Dover, DE, told The Produce News that the company’s Eastern Shore potato crop is running between a week and 10 days late this year.

“We are in the same boat as everyone else in the East,” said Mr. Cullen. “We had a wet and cool spring, which delayed planting considerably. But that was followed by some really nice weather that helped the crop catch up somewhat. The last couple of weeks [the last two weeks of May] were very dry, so this storm that traveled across the country causing havoc in Oklahoma brought us a lot of rain and wind the first weekend of June. The wind didn’t do any damage, and the moisture was welcomed. So we are in good shape at this point, and the quality of the crop looks nice.”

He added that it was too early to tell if there would be any overlapping as the crop is harvested and shipped, but with everyone running late, including Florida, no one has as yet expressed competitive pressure.

Thomas E. Moore’s Eastern Shore movement in Cape Charles, VA, will start harvesting its potato crop on about June 24 and will run for its normal month to six week program.

“The Eastern Shore crop of potatoes is harvested, cooled for about a day and then shipped out,” said Mr. Cullen. “They are not stored for longer periods.”

Besides its Dover location, Thomas E. Moore has a few other locations in Delaware that handle grading and packing. The company ships under the “Everfresh” and “Tommy Tater” labels.

Besides distributing produce, the company has a separate division that deals in buying and selling both new and used produce handling equipment, such as roller picking tables, washers, conveyors, sizers and sewing machines and stands for stitching paper bags of potatoes. The division was created in 1985.

The company moves north for its seasonal supplies each year.

“We handle Eastern Shore potatoes in the Cape Charles area, which is located at the southern tip of the Eastern Shore,” Mr. Cullen explained. “And then we start in the northern part of the shore a week to ten days later.”

Following its Eastern Shore movement, the company handles product from other growing regions of the United States, following the seasonal changes.

“We are expecting good-quality potatoes coming out of the Eastern Shore this year,” Cullen said. “It’s too early to tell how the volume will unfold. You have to actually get into the fields to determine that. We don’t see abundant yields this year, but it will be good quality.

“Any time you’re running a little late a lot of variables can come into play. Mother Nature can change things quickly, and sometimes for the better. Hopefully she’ll be sending us weather that will help the crop size up and then we’ll be in good shape.”