J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 9 4 POTATO GROWER 4 POTATO GROWER Red River Valley Fresh Crop Moves Smoothly through the First Half of the Season by Ted Kreis, NPPGA Marketing and Communications Director As we near the halfway point of the Red River Valley fresh crop shipping season, marketers are pleased, especially when comparing this year to last year. The good fortune started early in the season when a heavy snow cover protected about 4,000 acres of unharvested potatoes from the very cold temperatures that settled in for a few days after the snowstorm. The color and quality of this year's crop is also excellent and supplies are much more manageable after a nearly 10 percent cut in fresh acres in the Red River Valley. Demand is strong. Big crop losses in Wisconsin and Canada has pushed more business to the Red River Valley. Last year's biggest problem was without a doubt, the truck shortage. It was responsible for lost sales, higher freight rates and backed-up inventory which in turned caused falling prices and higher shrink. This year trucks have been much more available and nobody knows exactly why, but we are all hoping it continues through the second half of the season. Through mid December, red prices had been steady throughout the shipping season with #1 size A reds in the $15 to $16 range. Yellow prices had also been steady at around $17.50 through November but were increasing in December as supplies were quickly diminishing under heavy demand. The second half of the shipping season will see dwindling supplies in competing growing regions. In Wisconsin, heavy rains this summer followed by an early freeze took out well over 30 percent of the Wisconsin fresh crop. Some Wisconsin shippers have already turned to the Red River Valley to help fill orders. Parts of Canada were Randy Boushey provided this bird's eye view of the red potato harvest near East Grand Forks, Minnesota for A & L Potato Company. Casey Folson from Folson Farms unearthed these red beauties during harvest this fall near East Grand Forks, Minnesota.