Citing the inability to secure water in northern Colorado, grower-shipper Harry Strohauer of Strohauer Farms in LaSalle, CO, recently relocated a portion of his potato production to northeast New Mexico.
Mr. Strohauer, who grows conventional, organic and specialty potatoes and onions, told The Produce News that half his potato operation is in New Mexico this season. Conventional russets and Yukon Golds for the dry bulk/repacker market segment were planted in March, and Yukon harvest is expected to start in mid-July, with russets to follow.
“Our decision to move a portion of our operation to New Mexico was prompted by the inability to find enough ground with a secure source of water to keep our potato acreage [in Colorado] at the same level,” Mr. Strohauer said. “With the shutdown of so many wells by the state of Colorado in our area, we lost the backup we’d had for more than 50 years.”
He said now the farm is totally dependent on runoff, and reports from the Colorado Snow Survey had the state’s snowpack at 73 percent of average.
“If snowpack is lacking, we can lose our ditches [that are filled by runoff] at any time,” he said.
The decision has a definite upside, he added.
“One of the key points of this location is that it is geographically closer to most of our bulk receivers,” Mr. Strohauer said. He added that there is a possibility some organic production could be moved to New Mexico as the certified program expands.
In the meantime, he said, “Strohauer Farms will continue to pack russets, Yukon Golds, fingerling potatoes, organics and specialty onions out of the Greeley-northern Colorado area.”
The longtime grower said he’s not aware of other farmers moving production, and he said he’s optimistic his decision was the right one.
“I hope this venture proves to be a good one for Strohauer Farms,” he said. “Looking toward the future, we are hoping this decision will afford us the opportunities to expand with other crops into Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico regions.”