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Monte Vista Potato Growers continues steady growth curve

With 2018’s crop being planted in late April and 2017 potatoes running until the end of July, Monte Vista Potato Growers near Monte Vista continues to expand in volume and in shipments, particularly to Mexico.

General Manager Jason Tillman said in mid-April the cooperative now is made up of 11 growers, and he said volume has increased 35 percent in the past year as a result of good yields and the additional acreage.

“We had eight growers when I started six-and-a-half years ago,” said Tillman, who also handles sales. And, he noted, Mexico has become a very significant market on his watch.

“We didn’t ship any to Mexico before I started,” he said. “My first year between 4 and 5 percent of our volume was shipped there, and this shipping season it’s been 40 percent.”

He continued, “We’ve created good relationships with our customer base.” The base, which is four to six customers, has remained largely the same throughout the past several years.

The potato market overall was strong “and getting stronger the last couple of weeks,” he said in mid-April.

Growing and shipping russet Norkotahs, Canelas, Tetons and Centennials, a lesser volume of yellows and some organics, Monte Vista Potato Growers offers a variety of pack sizes and options, including consumer packs and cartons. Tillman said yellow production will be reduced somewhat in 2018, and he said organic acreage will remain the same.

On April 30 Tillman told The Produce News his warehouse and other buildings were not damaged by recent high winds, and he added that planting had not started during the week of April 16 when the winds ripped across the state.

“We’ve got potatoes going in the ground now,” he said the last day of the month. “Everything’s good here.”