Red potato shipments from the Red River Valley have taken a hit for the upcoming season. Meanwhile, California pomegranate shipments are picking up.
Roughly one-third, or 7,000 to 7,800 acres of the Red River Valley potatoes for the fresh market have been lost to excessive rain, and hail damage in northeast North Dakota. Seed and chipping potatoes in the area have suffered damage also and are not included in that talley.
Bruce Huffaker of North American Potato Market News estimates as many as 13,000 acres total (fresh, seed and chipping combined) have been lost in North Dakota and 1,500 in neighboring northwest Minnesota. Counties hardest hit in North Dakota are Pembina and Walsh and in Minnesota, Kittson and Polk.
However, potato fields south of Grand Forks and outside the Red River Valley appear to be in great shape. There are also fields north of Grand Forks that have escaped major damage.
The fresh potato shipments are well underway in the Long Prairie and Big Lake areas of Minnesota. Some of those potatoes are being washed and packed by Red River Valley wash plants, because the harvest in the valley is still several weeks away. Supplies should be adequate at the start of the Red River Valley shipping season but several plants will wrap up earlier than normal in the spring.
California grower-shippers are having good shipments of pomegranates that began in mid-August. However, 80 percent or more of the crop is in the wonderful variety which starts around October 1.
Volume loadings will be down this seas as there is some movement toward other crops. Some growers are swapping out pomegranates for nut varieties viewed as being more profitable.
Slayman Marketing of Bakersfield, CA focuses on early varieties and began shipping in early August. Last year started earlier, around July 20. Simonian Fruit Co. of Fowler, CA is expecting similar shipments to a year ago. Simonian should wrap up harvesting the first half of November.
The largest shipper of the wonderful variety is Los Angeles-based Pom Wonderful, which accounts for about 70 percent of California pomegranate shipments.