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Wada Farms expects excellent 2020 potato crop in Colorado

wadafarmspotatobox The 2020 growing season in Colorado’s San Luis Valley “has been wonderful,” said Michele Peterson, who heads the Colorado sales office in Monte Vista for Idaho Falls, ID-based Wada Farms Marketing Group.

“We have had chilly nights and warm days, which should lead to a good size profile and a very nice yield,” she said, both ideal conditions for an excellent crop.

With regard to tuber size, it is expected to be an improvement over last year’s crop when the size profile was down a bit.

Wada Farms is a major shipper of Idaho potatoes but also sources potatoes from other regions, notably the San Luis Valley. The company has an exclusive marketing contract with one of the major shippers in the valley but also works with several other co-packers.

Peterson expected the harvest to start around mid-August in the earliest fields. “Our first warehouse should open up to receive potatoes from its earliest fields around Aug. 17, with the next few warehouses opening up the first of September,” she said.

Wada’s Colorado potato offerings will be heavy to Russets, primarily the Norkotah variety, but also including some others such as Mesa. Additionally, Wada Farms will offer Colorado-grown reds, yellows, and an assortment of fingerlings.

Overall, the variety mix will be about the same this year as in the past, Peterson said, but “we always experiment with different varieties because we are always looking for something better than what we already have — you always want to improve.” To that end, some of the varieties growers have been testing appear promising.

While the growing and shipping partners Wada Farms is working with in Colorado remain the same as last season, “we are trying to focus a little bit more on our organic program,” she said. “We have been able to ship from another warehouse here in Colorado in recent seasons, and it has been a great relationship, so we do have the ability to do more than what we have done in the past” in the organic category.

Wada Farms is trying to diversify in terms of both varieties and packaging, Peterson said. In addition to the standard 10-pound and five-pound bags, “we are experimenting with different sizes of packing profiles. We are experimenting with different varieties in order to offer something new to the trade,” she said.

In packaging, 10 or 20 years ago, the biggest demand at retail was for 10-pound bails, she said. That has shifted over the years to where the five-pound bail is more popular, and now more and more people are moving into even smaller-sized packages.

“Especially within the past five years, I’ve seen a heavier demand in the four-pound bag, and some are going as small as three pounds,” she said.

Having the Colorado program also helps Wada Farms diversify by giving customers more choices. “It helps with the one-stop shop,” Peterson said. “Obviously Colorado has a freight advantage over Idaho in certain areas,” such as for loads going to the Southeast.

      

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