Grower Q&A: Harry Strohauer

Market Report

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Election Politics
The presidential election is three weeks away, so we’ll soon know who will be inaugurated in January as the 44th President of the United States – unless we run into a race so close it’s decided by “hanging chads” again. The decision on Nov. 4 will have broad implications for agricultural businesses and exporters.

The economy is at the core of this election. The collapse of mortgage lenders and Wall Street investment firms has caused a credit crunch and overall loss of wealth for Americans.

Both Sens. McCain and Obama supported the $700 billion bailout passed by Congress, and while their economic plans differ in many ways, they do have some similarities. Both candidates floated the possibility of naming the “Oracle of Omaha” Warren Buffett the Secretary of the Treasury.

It’s unlikely that Buffett would even accept a cabinet position – he’s nearly 80 and still making decisions for shareholders in Berkshire Hathaway – but he would make an excellent adviser, if not for his business experience then for his propensity for speaking in parables and platitudes.

In a recent interview on National Public Radio, Buffett was asked whether the $700 billion bailout was a good decision and if there should be partisan wrangling. His response, to paraphrase, was when someone’s having a heart attack, you don’t debate about where to place the leads or when to administer CPR. You have to act to save a life.

The potato industry is full of well-informed, engaged businesspeople. It’s not just our civic duty to vote, but to cast ballots based on education and knowledge of the issues. That’s not always easy in an election cycle of catch phrases and fancy logos, but the stakes are high and the effects can mean life or death for an agribusiness.

Grower Q&A
Harry Strohauer,
Strohauer Farms, La Salle, Colo.
Have you finished up harvest?
We have except for a few fingerlings. We would be done but we had some rain yesterday and that slowed us down.

How is the crop this season?
Good. The fingerling business has been brisk. Russets, Yukons and reds – it was mostly good for those and we’ve finished up with them.

The only thing we store is organics and fingerlings. We ship the others as they come out of the fields. We try to done around Labor Day, and this year we finished up around Aug. 18.

How was the quality of this season’s crop?

Quality is good. We had a disaster on some of our reds. The salt in the table water came up and injured some of the plants, so size was an issue.

The water issues are hurting everybody. The San Luis Valley is trying to set up its own water districts. In this area we have a problem with quality of water, but everywhere the state is shutting down a lot of irrigation wells. With our surface water, we don’t have enough water to run the irrigation systems.

We might run out of water for a couple of days in June, and we would use those irrigation wells because all the pumps are set up as dual systems to take water from the wells or surface water in one runs out.

The state says the wells are tributaries of the South Platte River. They say 80 percent of what you’re pumping is taken away from the river, so you have to be able to replace that. That’s not a problem – we have the water to do that, but it’s an issue of timing. The state says you’re taking 80 percent over three months, so we could replace it all at once but not over such a long time.

How is the season shaping up for other growers in Colorado?

There was some hail damage in the San Luis Valley. It’s a mixed bag with them as far as where they were when the hail rolled through. Some have good size. Overall, I think quality is good; It’s just a matter of size. TEXT


Market Report
Fresh market shipments in September exceeded shipments in 2007 with shippers taking advantage of high prices. Shipments in October are light to moderate, according to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

Prices continue to outpace 2007, due in part to a nearly 10 percent reduction in U.S. potato production this year.

Idaho shipments have been slow with harvest delayed rain and cold temperatures. The last fields should be dug by this week in southeastern Idaho. Idaho Russets in 40-count through 100-count 50-pound cartons are shipping for $13 to $14, slightly lower than last week.

Prices for Washington fresh-market potatoes are also slightly lower for the week ending Oct. 10. Fifty-pound cartons are shipping for $15 to $16 for 40-count through 80-count cartons, $12 to $14 for 90-count cartons and $11 to $13 for 100-count cartons. Red potatoes in 50-pound cartons are shipping for $20 for size A, $22 for size B and $32 to $36 for creamers. Long white potatoes from the state are shipping at $30 for size A in 50-pound cartons, $18 for size B and $32 to $36 for creamers.

Colorado Russet potatoes saw light trading in the week ending Oct. 10. Forty- to 80-count 50-pound cartons shipped for $14 to $15 and 90- to 100-count cartons shipped for $13 to $14.

Wisconsin potato shipments remained about the same and prices have been fairly steady. Fifty- to 70-count cartons were shipped at $15 to $17 last week, 80-count cartons shipped at $14 to $15 and 90-count cartons shipped at $13 to $14.

Rain has hampered the harvest in Minnesota and North Dakota, and concerns are growing for frost. Harvest in the Red River Valley is mostly complete, so movement of fresh potatoes from the area is expected to pick up. Size A red potatoes in 50-pound cartons were shipping at $10 to $11 last week, and size B were shipping at $17 to $18. Sacks were slightly lower, at $8.75 to $9.75 for size A and $16 to $17 for size B.


Sylvia’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips
PICTURE Sam's Club stores in six states have agreed to carry a line of soul food-inspired potato chips developed by Soulful Foods Inc. and Sylvia Woods, owner of a famous New York soul food restaurant. The snacks are available in Sam's Club stores in Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

Twelve-ounce bags of Honey Barbecue-flavored Kettle Chips will be available in the warehouse stores. The chips also are available in Lemon Pepper and Louisiana Hot flavors.

Woods’ New York restaurant has been a favorite of celebrities and locals alike since 1962. In 1996 she launched a national line of authentic soul food products based on recipes from her world-famous restaurant.

Chef Woods – called the "Queen of Soul Food" – partnered with Rap Snacks Inc. and Soulful Foods Inc. to create snacks that reflect the flavors used in her famous recipes.