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Skyline Potato continues growth curve

New equipment at two of its three sheds and additional storage keeps Skyline Potato Co. of Center, CO, in growth mode, and Chief Operations Officer Randy Bache said the focus will remain on the company’s multiple russet varieties and organic reds.

Bache said in late August that new-crop spuds from northern Colorado and Nebraska were shipping from the Center facility, and harvest on the 2013 San Luis Valley crop would begin soon. Bache, who also oversees operations at Skyview Cooling in Yuma, AZ, will remain at the Colorado operation through harvest, he said.

Joining the Skyline team in early September was Les Alderete, a potato industry veteran who “was selected after a nationwide search,” Bache said. Alderete will serve as general manager of the Center potato operation.

Two familiar faces are no longer with Skyline this season. Rob Bache, who handled organic sales and food-safety certification, has moved on to an equipment company in Yuma, and Roger Christensen, grower and former sales agent for Skyline, is part of a new growing/shipping venture in Center.

Addressing the changes at Skyline and overall situation in the San Luis Valley, Bache was cautiously upbeat about the new season when he said, “Water is tight this year, and we will need a wet winter for next year’s growing season. The size profile is smaller for 2013, with smaller yields. But I do think it will be a decent market.”

He added, “We continue to grow, and we upgraded and put in two new baggers. We have new Volms at Skyline and at our Horizon plant, and we have additional storage at Skyline. Also, we have a new shipping dock for our process bulk at our Purely Organic shed. The new dock is 50 x 100 feet, and we have another bulk loading dock that is 50 x 100. Between the two facilities we have 10,000 square feet for loading.”

Skyline is Primus GFS-certified as well as certified through California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and USDA-certified. Its traceability program uses a tagging system that follows product from field to pack to store, allowing tracing both forward and backward.

The grower/shipper’s primary markets are retail and wholesale, although process and make up approximately 25 percent of the operation’s potato movement.

Bob Noffsinger, who handles the process and foodservice accounts, said demand for foodservice “should remain strong” given the smaller size profiles. “Processing and retail demand will depend on the total production out of Idaho, and if there is overproduction demand will be affected.”