Expansion, upgrades and new equipment at its LaSalle, CO, packing facility has allowed Strohauer Farms to begin year-round shipping, according to company President and Owner Harry Strohauer.
“Our Colorado packing facility is going through significant changes this season with the additions of an optic sorter/sizer, new washing and drying equipment, increased cooler capacity and overall streamlining of our sorting and packing operation,” Strohauer said in late June.
“These new additions and changes are going to help increase production, efficiency and move our operation to a new level of product that we are shipping,” he added.
The conventional, specialty and organic potato and onion grower/shipper continued, “This season we will be going through the USDA Produce GAPs Harmonized Audit, which is a fairly huge jump from the previous food-safety audits we have done in the past. With the additional equipment and the renovations to the packing facility we will be able to now ship product year-round.”
In Northern Colorado, an area hit by drought conditions and water restrictions, Strohauer Farms has kept its overall acreage “relatively the same this season,” he said.
“Specialty fingerling potato acreage is up slightly as well as the organic acreages due to market demands, and this year our offerings in the potato category include conventional and organics. Varieties are russets, Yukon Golds, Banana Fingerlings, Rose Finn/Ruby Crescent Fingerlings, French Fingerlings and Purple Peruvian Fingerlings. In the specialty onion category, we will have conventional and organic white, red and Gold Pearl and boiler onions, cipollinis shallots,” Strohauer noted.
Approximately 10 percent of the crop is dedicated to organics, “and that is growing each season,” he said.
This season, Strohauer Farms began growing a portion of his conventional bulk potatoes in northeastern New Mexico due to water shortfalls in Colorado.
All spuds will be packed and shipped from the LaSalle facility, and Strohauer said he estimates conventional Yukons from New Mexico will start the week of July 29, followed by russets out of New Mexico the week of Aug. 5.
Conventional fingerlings, with the exception of Purple Peruvians, from Colorado will start the week of Aug. 12, with organic fingerlings and Yukons shipping that week as well. Conventional and organic Purple Peruvians will start around Sept. 2, and all specialty onions will begin shipping the week of Sept. 16.
Strohauer said, “One of the key items with our bulk program this season in New Mexico is that the freight rates for the majority of our buyers is going to decrease due to the proximity of our new farm operation.”
He went on to say that this season the operation is “going to work on moving more of the specialty products to the Northeast and the Southeastern parts of the United States. Additionally, we would like to focus on growing our retail programs.
In addressing the Colorado water situation, Strohauer said, “Due to the ongoing drought in Colorado, we were faced with a difficult decision, [one which] prompted us to move a portion of our operation to New Mexico as a result of the inability to find enough ground with a secure back-up source of well water to keep our potato acreage in Colorado at the same level we have previously had.”
He continued, “The ability to use well water as a back-up water source was curtailed by the state of Colorado in our area. With the state shutdown of so many wells, we lost the backup we’d had for more than 50 years.”
“We are exploring options to increase our New Mexico growing operation for next season,” Strohauer added.
“Our current farms are located in the northeast corner of New Mexico, and so there is a possibility that we may grow into Oklahoma and Texas as well. Some of our organic production could be moved to this area as our organic program expands further.”