J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 7 4 POTATO GROWER 4 POTATO GROWER Crop Transition Conference Proves Valuable by Ted Kreis, NPPGA Marketing and Communications Director The 10th annual Crop Transition Conference was held June 21st in Bloomington, Minnesota; a confer- ence many who attend call the most valuable meeting of the year. The meeting which is organized by the United Potato Growers of America (UPGA) was first held in 2008 and was focused only on the red potato market. The leaders at UPGA were aware of how the red market crashed in August every year when the large summer red potato crop hit the market out of Central Minnesota, a region also referred to by many as simply “Big Lake”. This was not just a problem for growers in Central Minnesota as the red potato price they set was, and still is inherited by the Red River Valley, the nation’s largest red potato grow- ing region. In most years up until that time, the Red River Valley entered the market with their fall crop before the sum- mer crop from Big Lake was wrapped up. Data compiled by UPGA and communicated to grow- ers at those early meetings found the problem wasn’t as much with over-supply as it was with timing. Growers in different regions needed to communicate with each other to find the best marketing window for their crop. When a crop is planted, when a crop is harvested, and how much is sold off the field rather than going to storage all help deter- mine this window of maximum opportunity. Today the two growing regions still work together to achieve this goal. The conference has expanded over the years to include all regions of the country and all types of pota- toes. Growers and shippers from all over the US and Canada now sit down at the Crop Transition Conference and project the size of their crops and when they will be harvested. This shared information helps all growers and potato mar- keters make intelligent decisions. The timing of the conference in late June is no coincidence. Generally by this time enough is known about how many acres have been planted and the positive or negative affect weather may have had on the crop up until that point. This year, most regions are off to a good start weather wise, including here in the Red River Valley. As of June 21st we reported yields had the potential to be good, but we also reported that we had planted fewer acres of reds, but more acres of yel- lows. Harvest in the Red River Valley was projected to be at its nor- mal time barring unforeseen weath- er events in the fall. The yellow potato expansion in the Red River Valley I mentioned earlier follows a national trend. Yellow production in the US has more than doubled in the past 10 years going from 4 million hundredweight in 2008 to 10 million hundredweight this past year. UPGA's Buzz Shahan presents yellow potato statistical data at the conference.