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Mountain Valley Produce launches 12-month fingerling potato program

CENTER, CO — The year-round fingerling program started last year has worked out well for Mountain Valley Produce, according to General Manager Ernie Myers, and the longtime San Luis Valley potato grower said that this year’s harvest was set to start on Sept. 10.

“The Colorado crop looks good,” Mr. Myers said in mid-August. “Right now we’re running California fingerlings, and we’ll start harvesting Colorado Sept. 10.”

Russets will start Sept. 15, he said, adding, “Growing conditions have been favorable — once we got into July. We saw a cold, dry and windy spring.”

About the 12-month fingerling campaign, he said, “The program has worked really well. We’re seeing more foodservice, and through that I think we’re seeing some healing in the economy.”

Mr. Myers and Office Manager Virginia Myers, along with sales agent Kurt Holland and transportation coordinator Duane Marquez, were looking forward to the new crop of San Luis Valley potatoes.

While Mountain Valley Produce sells only the fingerling side of its production, Farm Fresh Direct America, a grower-owned corporation based in Monte Vista, CO, handles the company’s russets and yellows as well as a portion of the fingerlings.

Shipments of the Colorado fingerlings will begin in late October, and packs include 2- and 5-pound poly and poly mesh bags. For foodservice, the shed ships in 20- and 50-pound sacks, Mr. Myers said.

In addition to the “Willie Myers’ “ label long used by Mountain Valley Produce, the fingerlings will also be packed under private labels. Direct sales go mostly to receivers outside Colorado.

Varieties remain Purple Peruvian, Yellow Russian Banana, Rose Finn, La Ratte and Austrian Crescent fingerlings.

Food safety remains a top priority, and Mountain Valley is compliant with both GHP and GAP and is third-party audited by SCS. And in-house program is used for traceback.

“We are working toward our Global GAP,” Ms. Myers said.

At the company’s sister company, Mountain Valley Logistics, a new face has been added to the staff. After Tim Miller, longtime Mountain Valley transportation coordinator, moved to Texas earlier this year, Duane Marquez was brought on board in early July.

“He is doing really well and fits in nicely,” Mr. Myers said. The Albuquerque office of Mountain Valley Logistics continues to be managed by Al Leckler.