Posts Tagged “Northern Plains Potato Growers Association”

Red River Valley Potato Shipments Get Big Jump Due to Pandemic

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By Ted Kreis – Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, Communications

For the first time all year, fresh potato shipments from the Red River Valley are meeting or exceeding last year’s numbers. Shipments had been running at about two-thirds of last year’s pace until the pandemic broke and consumers abandoned restaurants for eating at home.

Because of large crop losses last fall, prices for red and yellow potatoes from the valley have been higher all year which has slowed shipments to extend the shipping season accordingly. But in mid-March fresh shipments from the Red River Valley exceeded last year for the first time all season. This past week shipments were up nearly 20 percent compared to last year, all this as supplies dwindle in the Red River Valley.

Meanwhile, there has been an opposite effect on the frozen potato market which is highly dependent on foodservice business, which includes restaurants. With restaurant business mostly disappearing with the exception of drive-thru business, stockpiles of frozen fries is backing up causing huge cuts in 2020 contracted acres and much uncertainty going forward. This could also have a trickledown effect on the fresh market this fall if russet supplies in the Northwest are diverted to fresh.

In the U.S., processors are cutting, eliminating or delaying contracts but its not just happening here, this is a worldwide problem. In Western Europe, several potato processing units are shutting down totally or partially. Throughout the European northwest, the industry is calling for a reduction in planting areas as it now expects a huge surplus of fries in storage. One estimate is that the Dutch potato sector has 1 million metric tons of surplus processing potatoes at the current time. In France, an estimated 500,000 tons of potatoes cannot be processed.

We have never seen anything happen to the entire world like what is happening now so there is no playbook or roadmap to economic recovery. However one thing is certain, the world will always have to be fed, and potatoes will help lead the way. We just don’t know how that will look.

(This article appeared in Potato Bytes, an online publication by the NPPGA)

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Early Potato Shipments from Red River Valley are Strong, Despite Truck Shortage

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DSCN0439By Ted Kreis

Northern Plains Potato Growers Association Communications

Fresh shippers from the Red River Valley are off to a strong start having already shipped over 700,000 hundredweight of potatoes prior to November 1st. That is a 32 percent increase over last year, a year that growers battled through wet harvest conditions.

Shippers believe they could have shipped even more potatoes this fall had trucks been more readily available. Packers with the ability to load railcars are doing so in a big way to help move the crop. And don’t look for more trucks anytime soo. Thanksgiving turkey truck demand and hunting season are expected to make 18 wheelers even tougher to get the rest of November.

The 2017 fresh crop is the largest in many years but not by much. It barely edged out the 2015 crop for total tonnage. Though similar in size, there are two glaring differences.

First, yellow potatoes make up nearly 21 percent of the 2017 Red River Valley fresh crop; that compares to just 13 percent in 2015. This has left packing sheds with considerably fewer reds to move compared to 2015, but of course more yellows  The increase in yellow production both here and in other parts of the U.S. is in response to a continued increase in consumer demand. Nobody knows when or if the trend will subside.

Secondly, the quality is much better this year.   In 2015 there was an unusually high number of growth cracks and other cosmetic issues.  This year the color and appearance of the potatoes is excellent which has buyers excited and has created high demand for Red River Valley Red Potatoes.

The Red River Valley has long been the nation’s largest producer of red potatoes, and now ranks in the top five for yellow potato production as well.

The Northern Plains Potato Growers Association is located in East Grand Forks, MN


RRV potatoes from Grand Forks, ND – grossing about $3200 to Dallas.

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Yellow Potatoes Continue to Gain Market Share

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DSCN0239By Ted Kreis
Yellow potatoes continue to gain market share and the gain is mostly at the expense of russets and whites, two potato types shippers in the Red River Valley haven’t grown for the fresh market in years.
Red River Valley red production has been up and down in recent years but one trend is clear, the valley is growing more yellows. In 2010 the valley produced just over 200,000 hundredweight (cwt.) of yellow potatoes.  Just five years later in 2015 the valley produced 607,000 cwt., a three-fold increase. In 2016 the number increased even more despite some yellow losses in the northern valley.  On a percentage basis, yellow potatoes made up just six percent of the Red River Valley fresh crop in 2010; the past two years they have averaged 14.5 percent.
Heimbuch Potato located south of Oaks in southeast North Dakota is geographically separated a bit from other Red River Valley shippers but they have close business ties with the valley.  They are also included with the Red River Valley for USDA  production and shipment numbers.  Not too long ago Heimbuchs grew three types of potatoes for the fresh market; reds, yellows and russets.  But brothers Chad and Josh Heimbuch picked up on the popular yellow trend early and in 2013 they switched to all yellow potato production.
Other Color Trends 
Nationwide white potatoes for the fresh market have been the big losers.  Since the 2008 crop year white potato shipments have decreased 43.3 percent, according to numbers compiled by the North American Potato Market News.
Russet shipments so far this season mimics closely 2008 although russets are down 7.7 percent from 2009 when they hit a 10 year peak.
U.S. red shipments had increased about 14% between 2009 and 2015 crop years but have regressed this year because of short supplies here in the Red River Valley, the nation’s largest red producer..
(Ted Kreis is the Marketing & Communications Director for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, East Grand Forks, MN)

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Red River Valley Potato Shipments Could Take Big Hit

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DSCN4387The Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota historically has been the largest red potato shipping area in the country.  However, devastating weather factors may change that for the 2016-17 shipping season.
Ted Kreis, editor of Potato Bytes, the weekly online news publication of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association (NPPGA) reports the heart of “Potato Country” in northeast North Dakota was devastated by baseball size hail that lasted up to 35 minutes on the night of July 19th.
The worst hail damage was along Highway 18 from Mountain to Hoople in Pembina and Walsh Counties but heavy rain, hail and strong winds  caused damage to a much larger area extending south into northern Grand Forks County and east to the Red River
The Crystal, ND area was hard hit.  Some growers that had previously lost 20 percent of their crops from heavy rains saw that number jump to as much as 80 percent.  Property damage was also heavy.
Bruce Huffaker, publisher of North American Potato Market News (NAPMN)  projects an 8.6 percent jump in red acres for the U.S. fall crop.  A small increase was projected for the Red River Valley, but that doesn’t jive with the NPPGA’s own surveys of valley wash plants that showed a small decrease.  Weather damaged red potato acres will trim harvest acres even further.
Huffaker’s analysis projects an increase of nearly 5,000 acres in the top ten fall crop states.  Most notable is a 1,450 acre increase in Washington and just under 1,000 additional acres in Michigan.
The largest potato shipping state, Idaho, is projected to hold at 9,750 acres.  Those are high yielding irrigated acres which mean that Idaho’s red potato production could rival the Red River Valley this year, especially if crop losses are as heavy as projected in northeast North Dakota.
Twin Falls, ID area russet potatoes – grossing about $3800 to Atlanta.


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Britton Transport Acquires Scott’s Express

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Britton Transport Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Bison Transport Inc., announced today the acquisition of Scott’s Express Inc. and Scott’s Transportation Services Inc. (collectively “Scott’s), located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Scott’s was established in 1952 and is a nationwide trucking and truck brokerage company, specializing in Agribusiness throughout the United States and parts of Canada.

Brad Seymour

 “The acquisition of Scott’s expands and builds upon Britton’s customer relationships and capabilities as a logistics service provider in the Red River Valley,” said Dave Britton, President of Britton. “Scott’s has a long tradition of service excellence among agricultural shippers within the valley and will continue to service its customers with Britton’s support. We are excited about the opportunity to serve Scott’s long-term customers with Britton’s asset-based capabilities.”

 Brad Seymour, President of Scott’s, will continue with the company in the transition of ownership and servicing of Scott’s customers. He says, “I have known Dave Britton for over 25 years and have a high regard for the way Britton does business. We are very pleased to be joining forces with Britton and I feel it gives our employees and our customers a platform to grow in the years ahead.”

 Founded in 1952, Scott’s was initially operated as a filling station but soon after Archie Scott identified a need for sourcing trucks on behalf of local potato farmers. What started as a sideline became the first truck brokerage in the Red River Valley. Today, Scott’s continues to service the potato and specialty crop sector with superior service and an unmatched reputation.

Financial details concerning this transaction have not been disclosed.

(This story appeared 8/28/12 in Potato Bytes, the online publication of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association)

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