Five months into the shipping season, Michele Peterson, who heads the Colorado sales office of Idaho Falls-based Wada Farms Marketing Group, was seeing the quality of the 2019 potato harvest in Colorado’s San Luis Valley measure up to her expectations.
On Aug. 15, one week before the anticipated start date, Peterson told The Produce News that based on test digs “the quality is exceptional. It looks wonderful.” She added a qualifier that there can always be surprises as the crop is harvested.
But in mid-January, Peterson confirmed that her initial assessment had held true. “This year, I have seen excellent quality,” she said. “It is probably one of the better quality years that I have seen.”
While many factors contribute to potato quality, from seed to sorting and beyond, Peterson gave much of the credit for the quality of the crop to the growers. “We’ve got wonderful farmers and growers we work with that take great pride in their product,” she said. “A lot of our growers are responsible for the storage aspect as well as the growing and harvesting.” Proper storage management is also critical to potato quality.
Russets constitute the biggest category of potatoes Wada handles out of Colorado, with Norkotahs being the prominent russet variety. Among the several other russet varieties, one of the newer ones is the Mesa Russet, which came out of the Colorado State University potato breeding program.
“I’ve seen great results with the Mesa,” Peterson said.