Busy Summer

Nothing says summer like potato industry events.

Published online: Aug 01, 2017 Articles James J. Ehrlich, Executive Director, Colorado Potato Administrative Committee
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This article appears in the August 2017 issue of Potato Grower.

I am writing this column in late June, which has brought summer to Colorado’s San Luis Valley. With summer comes a flurry of activity for the Colorado potato industry. Growers have been busy planting and cultivating in the field, and the emerging crop of potatoes is off to a fantastic start. Mother Nature has been kind this spring with ample snow rapidly melting to replenish our aquifer with critical irrigation water crucial to our growers’ crops.

The first week of June the Colorado Administrative Committee (CPAC) hosted a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) workshop for 28 growers and shippers. The two-day class focused on a systemic, scientific approach to food safety that leads to improved problem-solving skills and stresses a team-oriented environment in the workplace. This approach leads to a culture focused on food safety improvement. While potatoes are inherently safer than many produce items because they are cooked before eaten, it is important that the industry provide the very best quality possible in food safety for our customers and consumers. Colorado growers and shippers strive to excel in the area of food safety, and CPAC is pleased to provide support.

On June 11, the CPAC staff and 28 potato industry volunteers served piping hot baked potatoes seven miles from the summit of Wolf Creek Pass to the nearly 2,000 cyclists and support staff for the annual Ride the Rockies bicycle tour. Established in 1986 by the Denver Post, riders come from all over the country to participate in the six-day, cross-state tour. The event is so popular riders have to submit to a lottery registration system and hope to be selected to ride. Riders travel 447 miles and climbed a total of 32,337 feet on this year’s route. The route is different every year, but whenever the ride comes to the San Luis valley, CPAC is there with a free nutritious, energy-packed baked potato of the highest quality. It is great fun, and what better way to promote the healthy energy packet that potatoes are for athletes?

On June 14, CPAC hosted its annual golf tournament at Cattails Golf course in Alamosa, Colo. It was a fun day for growers and families to spend the day and concluded with a nice meal in the evening. This year, the National Potato Council’s John Keeling was in attendance to tell tall Texas tales and enlighten the crowd. In addition our sister organization, the Colorado Potato Legislative Association, conducted a raffle to raise funds for POPAC.

To finish June off, we were also proud to host the NPC summer meeting June 28-30 in Denver at the historic Brown Palace Hotel.