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M A Y J U N E 2 0 1 6 POTATO GROWER 5 Typically November and December are the biggest shipping months for the Red River Valley. This year February and March topped November and December. The added demand also helped prices recover. Prices that were 4.00 behind the five year average pre- holidays were now 4.00 above the five year average. The pack-out rate increased too late storing varieties like Sangre held up well and did not exhibit the high number of growth cracks found in Norlands. Wash plants that had expected to run a month or more longer than normal would instead be wrapping up on time. A few will still be shipping into June but that is not all that unusual. To summarize what made the 2015- 2016 Red River Valley fresh crop so unique Here is my top five 5 Trucks Trucks became readily available this past season something shippers hadnt seen in many years. Many credit the slow- down on the oil patch in western North Dakota for making more rigs available. 4 Weak Canadian Dollar A weak Canadian dollar sent millions of sacks of red and yellow potatoes mostly from the eastern provinces into the U.S. market at low prices. 3 The Topsy-Turvy Shipping Season The Florida crop disaster sent a lot of business to the Red River Valley making February and March bigger shipping months than November and December. Very unusual 2 Unexpected Big Crop As late as September many were predict- ing average to below average yields. When harvest was completed it was 19.3 percent larger than the 5 year aver- age the largest red crop since the 1970s in the Red River Valley topping 5.2 mil- lion cwt. 1 Growth Cracks 2015 will be remembered as the year of the growth crack. So prolific it even occurred in smaller B and C size tubers. The dry-wet theory didnt seem to explain the problem everywhere. How about the hazy sky theory For several weeks in the Red River Valley this July bright sunshine was obscured and tem- peratures were cooled by a yellowish smoky haze drifting southeast from large forest fires in Saskatchewan. Could this have slowed plant growth then the plants grew too quickly when sunshine and rain returned There is absolutely no scientific evidence to sup- port this theory but if you must Blame Canada