The potato harvest in the Red River Valley is almost complete for the year. A handful of growers are still in the fields, but it won't be long before the cold and wintry weather heralds a switch of focus to packing. There have been no notable weather issues over the growing period, with only some localized regions experiencing slightly drier conditions than normal.
"One of our farmers is still harvesting but he will likely finish up in the next week or two before either the rains come or it gets too cold," said Steve Tweten, President of NoKota Packers. "It's looking like a nice, average yield crop and quality has been good overall. Some of the product that has come in the last few days will receive some additional scrutiny because we had a couple of cold and frosty nights last week."
Demand good for red potatoes
Nokota Packers grows exclusively red potatoes and has seen solid demand continue for the red variety, while the market itself is average. Over the next six weeks, the company expects to see good movement with the busy Holiday season approaching.
"The market for red potatoes is not great, but it's steady," Tweten noted. "Going forward, we will assess our market position once everything has been harvested and is in the warehouse. For reds, we try to finish the storage crop by around May 1."
"We are getting into a busy time and expect to be loading heavy in November in the lead up to Thanksgiving," he continued. "The front end of December is typically also busy before it starts to get quiet before Christmas. Overall, we are seeing pretty good demand for red potatoes this year."
Business set for smoother run this season
Last year at this time, growers around the country, and particularly potato growers, were struggling with crippling freight rates and a shortage of trucks. This year, the situation is much improved and although rates are still fairly high, suppliers are satisfied with the current freight environment. As Tweten observed, "Freight is much better than a year ago and it's working out well for us. Rates are still high which is fine, because it means the truckers are making a bit of money."
Tweten also shared that NoKota Packers are set for a more efficient packing season with the replacement of one of their packing lines. "We have just upgraded one of our packing lines from an older system to a new one. This will result in extra packaging capacity so we can continue to take care of our customers."