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Cañon Potato to focus on select private labels in 2011

CENTER, CO — As the 2010-11 shipping season winds down, Cañon Potato Co., here, is looking ahead to the new season and a focus on private labels.

According to Cañon President David Tonso, the company is “continuing to develop our own ‘Rocky Mountain’ label, and we’re packing select private labels for customers as well.”

Mr. Tonso said that “Rocky Mountain” will represent Cañon and that the shed will discontinue shipping under lesser-used labels.

Additionally, Cañon is updating its computer systems and software in an effort to “adhere to food safety mandates,” the longtime potato man said.

Noting the very short potato supplies in the San Luis Valley, Mr. Tonso said that Cañon will have spuds through mid-June. “It is extremely tight in the valley,” he said. “Open supplies are high-priced. We wish we had more potatoes, but we finished yellows in early April and reds in mid-May. Russets will be out in June.”

In 2011, he expects to be up on reds and down slightly on yellows. Russet volume will remain steady, Mr. Tonso said.

“Our yellow movement was very good this year,” he added. “Wisconsin cleaned up earlier this year, and buyers came to the San Luis Valley for yellows earlier.”

Growers dealt with weather issues in 2010 and came up with a shorter crop, and Mr. Tonso said, “Hopefully this will be a better year for the crop and for growing conditions.”

He also said that Cañon Potato Co.’s grower group will have more potatoes in 2011, but he has heard that acreage increase in the valley is up nominally by 2-3 percent.

One factor heretofore not affecting the growers is water fees imposed by a subdistrict in the region, which could affect acreage.

“The subdistrict kicks in this year,” he said. “This is the first time growers have had to deal with this.”


Noting a trend

In mid-May, with the San Luis Valley crop fully planted, Mr. Tonso noted a trend toward russet varieties other than the early-producing Norkotah. Harvest traditionally begins in early September.

He also said that the northern Colorado potato crop had emerged, and “everything looks good and on track for shipping in late July.” Cañon works with grower Harry Strohauer of Strohauer Farms in marketing northern Colorado russets and yellows. Mr. Strohauer also grows and markets fingerlings and organics.