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M A Y J U N E 2 0 1 64 POTATO GROWER4 POTATO GROWER largest fresh crop in recent times the next closest was the 2008 crop that hit 4.9 million cwt. As one would expect the 2015 crop would be a challenge for marketers and wash plant operators. They had two sig- nificant situations facing them a lot of potatoes to move and a high percentage of culls to deal with. Sorting all the growth cracks out would slow produc- tion lines and decrease efficiency how- ever some say the high cull percentage was a blessing taking well over a half million cwt. of potatoes off the already saturated market. Slowing U.S. consumer demand for red potatoes for the first time in the past five years would add to the challenge and if that wasnt enough a weak Canadian dollar allowed cheap Canadian potatoes to flood the U.S. keeping prices low. The Big Turn-around Then something hap- pened that nobody saw coming. Misfor- tune in Florida was rapidly becoming good fortune for the Red River Valley as the sec- ond half of the ship- ping season pro- gressed. Typically Florida is the lead ship- per of reds in the late winter months but a mid-winter heat wave in the Sunshine State caused early potatoes to senesce prematurely result- ing in low yields and a small size profile. Cold wet weather followed hampering harvest. As the harvest moved north in Florida shipments were expected to return to normal but by mid April that hadnt materialized. By this time red potato shipments from Quebec had also dried up and Wisconsin re-packers were relying on the Red River Valley to replace Florida reds. The result Red River Valley wash plants ran at or near capacity for much of February March and into early April. Helping the situation trucks were read- ily available. Growth crack like these had to be culled out to assure top quality from Red River Valley shippers. Hammer-Lok Steel Building Systems 44434 Harvest Ave. Perham MN 56573 1-844-203-4565 Full service Design Build General Contractor for all your produce storage needs.