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Maverick adds pack options, food-safety compliance

Cleaning up the 2013 shipping season on April 1, Maverick Potato Co. in Center, CO, is headed into its second season with shed upgrades and plans for increased production.

Company President Roger Christensen, a veteran San Luis Valley potato grower/shipper, said the company had a great start with the 2013 crop, running 200,000-plus cwt through the shed.

roger-christensen-john-salaMaverick Potato Co. President Roger Christensen is shown with Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar and San Luis Valley potato grower Dave Warsh at Colorado Ag Day March 26.“We’ve added a new sizer and made other upgrades to the shed to maintain strict food-safety compliance, which is of the utmost importance to us,” Christensen said.

He continued, “We’re looking to increase some this year, keeping our program of russets, yellows and a few reds.”

Maverick produces organic and conventional russet Canelas and Norkotahs as well as conventional Rio Grandes and Centennials, yellow varieties and the lesser amounts of reds.

The operation, which he founded with co-owner Michael Kruse, produces conventional and organic spuds, and the two longtime growers are optimistic about Maverick’s place in the San Luis Valley potato industry.

“We will start planting around April 25,” he said. “Planting of all varieties will take about three weeks on our 1,300 acres.”

Maverick has built relationships in U.S. and Mexican markets, and Christensen said the recent opening of Mexico to more potatoes from this country bodes well for the Colorado potato industry due to logistics.

“With Mexico opening up, it gives the smaller shipper a chance to compete in the potato marketplace,” he said.

In 2013, Maverick had several acres under drip irrigation, and Christensen said the valley-wide water shortage has taught him “how to farm half circles really well.”

The operation also has a green manure program, growing different grasses in rotation with potatoes.

“It’s working out very well for us,” Christensen said.