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Washington's potatoes benefiting from hot summer

Over the next few weeks, harvesting will be the main activity in Skagit Valley's potato fields. It's been a hot summer but potato growers are finding ways to make it work for them. As the season gets underway, producers are looking at a good quality crop with a well spread size profile, much of that due to the warm and dry summer. 

"The harvest is gradually starting with some growers already out picking potatoes," said Jack Wallace of G&D Wallace in the Skagit Valley. "Our start date is set for September 4 which is close to the average for us. We like to leave more days for the skins to firm up. It's been a warm growing season resulting in a good crop. The lack of rain has meant that we've needed to pay more attention on irrigation, but it has also meant that we didn't deal with any large rains. Therefore, the potatoes have attained good color and a nice shape. Sizing profile also looks set to be lining up with our typical pattern."

Good sizing spread will cover market demand
Although it is still early days, growers are confident of a good market this year. The lower volume expected will be offset by the quality and sizing profile conducive to a good market. But regardless of what is presented, the new crop is already attracting a lot of attraction from buyers eager for some new season potatoes.

"It's hard to know what the market will demand, but sizing looks to be well covered," Wallace observed. "Anytime we have a drier growing season, volume tends to be slightly lower, but the product is better quality and this is where stand currently. People are already calling us about the new crop. A lot of them are tired of what's on offer right now and are therefore looking forward to the Skagit Valley crop. It's nice to get started under those circumstances."

Left to right: Dick, Tim, Jack and George Wallace

Reds, yellows, organics all looking good this year
Consumers' ongoing love affair with the red and especially gold potatoes looks set to continue this year. However, all varieties are expected to get a boost this season, according to suppliers. Wallace noted that they are particularly pleased with what they're seeing on the organic front, with great anticipation for a good crop and market this year on these.

"Red and yellow potatoes continue to see strong demand and the increased shift towards yellows in retail will continue," he said. "But we are seeing strong interest on all colors. The organic crop is looking fantastic as well and we expect to have a good strong market on organic this year, particularly on reds and yellows. We will have a good set of organics and are excited for the season ahead."

For more information:
Jack Wallace
G&D Wallace, Inc.
Tel: +1 (360) 757-0981