Wisconsin Positioned Well for Winter, Spring Shipping

Published online: Jan 20, 2017 Tad Thompson, The Produce News
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Amid their winter potato shipping season, Wisconsin potato growers are enjoying a very positive season, according to Tamas Houlihan, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association.

Houlihan says Wisconsin’s potato volume is down about 8 percent from the 2015 crop. One reducing factor was too much rain in August and September. Furthermore, 2015 brought Wisconsin a bumper potato crop. Wisconsin harvested 26 million hundredweight in 2016, down from 28 million the previous season.

The 2016 crop yielded about 430 hundredweight per acre. In the previous growing season, the figure was over 450 per acre. Furthermore, there was a 1,000-acre drop in 2016 plantings from 63,000 acres the previous year.

Wisconsin growers are still doing a good job of marketing and getting value for their crop,” Houlihan says. “We have excellent quality.”

Wisconsin potato growers are expected to slow down their shipping volume “since supplies are a little lower,” says Houlihan. “We will have to pace out shipments to match supplies through the spring and summer. A lot of the bigger houses ship through the year, but they may need to pace it out to make it through the spring and summer.”

Of the national potato business, Houlihan adds, “I don’t think prices will be quite as high.”

Red River Valley growers endured tremendous amounts of rain late in their harvest season, so they are  a little short. But the shortage in the Red River Valley and Wisconsin “maybe will be made up” by the large potato volume coming from Idaho, says Houlihan.

Houlihan praises Wisconsin growers, who he says “have capitalized on their outstanding reputation in producing a high-quality crop.” The state’s growers have also built their reputation “by being very responsive in customer service; in a lot of cases bringing delivery overnight. When customers need it tomorrow, they find a load and get it on time when the customers need it.”

Houlihan also credited Wisconsin growers’ environmental stewardship in building a strong reputation.

Wisconsin’s importance to the national produce industry comes in part from producing many potato varieties. These include reds, russets, yellows, fingerlings and other specialty varieties.

“We have what a buyer needs,” says Houlihan.


Source: The Produce News