Posts Tagged “red potatoes”
By 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.
By Black Gold Farms
Grand Forks, ND – Black Gold Farms will soon be harvesting fresh red potatoes in the boot heel of Missouri. With ideal planting and growing conditions and plenty of moisture, this year’s crop looks to be one of the best yet.
“We’ve been growing red potatoes on the boarder of Missouri and Arkansas for about 10 years, and every year we get a little better. This year is no different.” commented John Halverson, COO of Black Gold Farms. “We’ve been able to learn a lot about growing potatoes in the summertime heat from over 30 years of chip potato experience in warmer climates. We’re able to transfer those leanings to the fresh market. While there are many differences, the principles are the same: use the right variety, get the timing correct, push them through the wash line and into the cooler as quickly as possible, and then, ship to our customers while they are still at their freshest” Halverson concluded.
Keith Groven, Fresh Sales Manager of Black Gold Farms states, “Our customers really find value pulling fresh reds out of Arbyrd, MO as the quality is consistent, and we are geographically central to many of the major cities which provides locally grown opportunities. Customers recognize that Black Gold Farms is the red potato expert, especially this time of year, in this geography.”
Keith Groven Black Gold Farms will be harvesting, packing and shipping their own crop of red potatoes out of their Arbyrd, MO farm and packing facility until the middle of July. After that, the Black Gold Farms Indiana crop will be ready. This allows for Black Gold Farms-grown product to be supplied to customers year-round.
“Each of our farms has their own unique characteristics, but what’s really valuable is that our customers know that the red potatoes they’re getting and the service they’ve come to expect is all Black Gold Farms” remarked Groven.
Black Gold Farms is offering up redventurous recipes like Red Potato and Chorizo Paella, as well as digital/social promotions geared towards bringing awareness to the adventurous side of red potatoes.
The new U.S. potato shipping season is underway in very light volume. Here is a preview from five states on what to expect.
Indiana Potato Shipments
Here’s one you may not be aware of. The red potato harvest has begun at Black Gold Farms’ operation in Winamac, IN, located about hallway between Chicago and Indianapolis. Red potatoes for the fresh market account for several hundred acres of Norland and Dark Red Norland varieties, which are being shipped through August. The Winamac farm allows Black Gold Farms to ship potatoes the year-round from its own farms. The cycle that starts each year in Texas and then transitions to North Carolina, Arkansas and Missouri before moving up to Indiana and finally to the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota.
North Dakota/Minnesota Potato Shipments
Red River Valley red potato shipments out of North Dakota and Minnesota are expected to be off 25 to 30 percent from a year ago due to weather factors. However, shipments, which will begin in mid October, are expected to be normal for 2016-17 until storages start running out of product late in the season (May and June). This will probably mean an earlier than normal end to shipping for most shippers. The Red River Valley is the nation’s largest red potato shipping area. A & L Potato Co. in East Grand Forks, MN is already packing and shipping red potatoes. Big Lake and Long Prairie, MN, along with Wisconsin typically ship the first red potatoes of the new season beginning in August.
Big Lake, MN potatoes – grossing about $1000 to Chicago.
Wisconsin Potato Shipments
Central Wisconsin is now shipping red potatoes, with russets coming soon. The first russets are expected this week in very light volume. The Badger State ranks third in U.S. potato shipments. Normal volume is expected this year.
Idaho Potato Shipments
The nation’s leading potato shipper, Idaho, is expected to get underway for the new season the week of August 15th. Normal volume is expected for the 2016-17 shipping season.
Twin Falls, ID potatoes – grossing about $1450 to L.A.
I made my first trip to the Red River Valley, the nation’s largest red potato growing area, in December 1996. I thought when this southern boy who found himself in -40 degree F wind chills, I was going to freeze to death! Located on the North Dakota, Minnesota border, I have been back every year since, only in the summertime.
Whether I’m spending time with potato shippers, or truckers up here, there are no friendlier people to be found anywhere.
Getting to the Red River Valley with a load, whether going to Fargo on the southern end of the valley, or a small town located near the Canadian border, or any location found between the eastern edge of valley in far Western Minnesota, or approximately 100 miles to the other side of the valley in North Dakota, often isn’t easy. It can be as challenging as getting a load of freight from the Midwest to the West Coast.
Right now, grain haulers are taking center stage as the harvest in the valley is well underway. However, shortly after Labor Day, the huge combines will give away to digging potatoes from the region’s rich, black soil.
The only potatoes in the region currently being harvested are out of Big Lake and Long Prairie, MN. While the spuds are grown in Minnesota, many, if not most of them are actually being sold by the larger shippers in the Red River Valley such as Associated Potato Growers, Grand Forks, ND; NoKota Packers, Buxton, ND; and A&L Potato Co., East Grand Forks, MN. These companies often arrange the transportation as well.
The harvest of Red River Valley potatoes typically lasts from September into October, or until the first hard frost kills off the remaining potatoes in the fields.
Patrick Sammons of St. Joseph, MO is a driver for Grand Forks based Britton Transport. “It’s tough sometimes getting loads into the valley,” he admits.
Driver Jerry Smedly of Staples, MN says he hauls more french fries out of the valley than he does fresh red potatoes. He hauls for Attendorf Express Inc. out of Minto, ND.
Dave Moquist grows and ships red potatoes out of Crystal, ND. His company, O.C. Schulz & Sons, has found truck supplies to be adequate the past couple of years. However, potato shipments also have been down, requiring less equipment for hauling.
Paul Dolan of Associated Potato Growers, large potato cooperative based in Grand Forks, ND, says trucks were in tight supply last fall. He believes part of the reason is the oil boom taking place in the Western region of North Dakota. It is taking drivers that normally would be hauling other things.
Overall, red potatoes from the valley for the 2012-13 shipping season, are expected tobe normal at best. Warmer weather and less rain are expected to cut total shipments this season. — Bill Martin
It’s still too early for decent loading opportunities out of Florida — while we’re still another two to three weeks away from significant volume, particularly with vegetables. Yet, the Sunshine state is better now than it was only a few weeks ago when it comes to finding a load.
From South Florida, about 250 truckloads of red potatoes are being loaded a week. There is even heavier volume with roma, mature green, cherry and grape tomatoes coming out of the Southern areas of Florida….The Plant City and Dover location near Tampa is shipping some of the most beautiful and tasty strawberries you can image (I just bought this shown in photo today).
Central Florida produce shipments – grossing about $2300 to Chicago.