Red River Valley Potatoes Having Good Year

Published online: Oct 19, 2017 Articles
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Source: Fresh Plaza

Potato growers in the Northern Plains region, which includes the Red River Valley along the border of North Dakota and Minnesota, are enjoying healthy harvest yields, good quality and high demand. Red, and more so yellow varieties, have seen increases in market share in recent years.

Ted Kreis of Red River Valley Potatoes says the harvest has almost concluded for the year and yields have been above average for most potato varieties.

“We grow all the main types of potatoes in the Valley for four markets—fresh, seed, frozen processing and chips,” he says. “The red and yellow varieties, in particular, have enjoyed above-average yields, thanks to favorable growing conditions. The rich soils in this region enable the red potatoes to obtain a richer, deeper color than in other potato-growing regions in the United States.

“Right now, we are between 80 and 90 percent through the harvest, which started in the middle of September,” Kreis continues. “Some growers have already finished. Yields are about average for the irrigated russets and up for the red and yellow varieties, grown without irrigation.”


Demand Growing for Yellows, Reds

Consumers are turning more toward different-colored potatoes, and the red and European yellow varieties are enjoying a surge in popularity. Despite the large volumes, demand is strong enough to absorb that stock.

“Russet potatoes are still the most widely grown in our region,” says Kreis. “These are grown for frozen processing. Round whites, mainly used for chips, are enjoying steady demand. For the fresh market, yellow varieties, some European, have shown strong growth in acres planted. They now occupy 12 percent of total volume, whereas seven years ago, it was 5 or 6 percent. This is due to growing customer demand, thanks to their attractive appearance. Demand and acreage is ultimately up to customer preferences and what retailers want to promote. Other varieties from the Red River Valley region that are seeing a rise in popularity include Red Norland and Dark Red Norland. They are an early to mid-season varietal and have a rich, red skin color and creamy white flesh.”


Prices Strong

Market demand is high at the moment and is not looking to ease.

“The price is holding up very well, despite high volumes,” says Kreis. “The quality is really excellent, the price is up over last year, and market demand is still strong. There is currently a nationwide shortage of trucks. This may have something to do with the hurricanes that have affected the U.S. and is resulting in more supplies needing to be shipped to those areas. This has increased the cost not just for potatoes, but for many goods, a cost that will eventually have to be passed on to consumers.”