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January 2010

January 2010
  • Efficient Commissions In an effort to make their shrinking budgets go farther, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC), the Washington State Potato Commission (WSPC) and the Oregon Potato Commission (OPC) have initiated exploratory discussions to determine how they could more effectively unify their research programs to share data, at the same time using their financial resources as efficiently as possible.
  • Marketing Wada Farms The continued national decline in potato consumption, in both the process and fresh markets, has growers, shippers and industry marketers searching for solutions to end the downward spiral.
  • Process Market Outlook The process potato market seems to be in a state of suspended animation across the country at the beginning of 2010.
  • Readers Respond - Spudman Grower Survey 2010 Well, if there are two facts you can definitely take away from our 2009 reader survey, it's that our readers are not shy in expressing their opinions and their opinions are as diverse as the varieties of potatoes out there.
  • Spuds in the Sunshine State Southern Florida's potato industry has seen a dramatic shift in production in recent years as urban sprawl from Miami has decimated fields around Homestead, south of the city.
  • Wada Farms There's a change at the helm of Wada Farms, but the direction of one of Idaho's largest fresh potato producers will be to stay the course, said Bryan Wada, the new president of the multi-tiered company based in Pingree, Idaho.
  • Water Outlook Early indications for the 2010 water year point to sufficient water storage and ground water reserves to get irrigators through the upcoming growing season in the Pacific Northwest and in Colorado's San Luis Valley.
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Three PNW state commissions working together to fund research

In an effort to make their shrinking budgets go farther, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC), the Washington State Potato Commission (WSPC) and the Oregon Potato Commission (OPC) have initiated exploratory discussions to determine how they could more effectively unify their research programs to share data, at the same time using their financial resources as efficiently as possible. Pat Kole, vice-president of legal and government affairs for IPC; Chris Voight, executive director of WSPC; and Bill Brewer, executive director for the OPC, sat down to discuss the initial efforts with Spudman magazine. All three said the process is in its beginning stage of development and a lot of ground work remains to be done before any substantive steps will be taken. “There are certainly consultations that we have to engage in with the universities,” Kole said. “We’ve got to reach out and talk to our stakeholders, the people that…  » Read more

Idaho grower offers more value-added products

The continued national decline in potato consumption, in both the process and fresh markets, has growers, shippers and industry marketers searching for solutions to end the downward spiral. From better packaging and point of sales displays to enticing recipes and just educating consumers on how to prepare potatoes to partnering with retail outlets to help promote sales by matching markets to consumers are examples of the efforts being explored by the Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Bob Meek, chief executive officer, believes it is time for grower-shippers to become more involved in reaching consumers and educating them on how to prepare potatoes, even going so far as to have a professional chef create simple recipes to aid consumers unsure about how to use potatoes in their meals. "Our retail marketing strategy in the next 12 to 15 months will be to come up with…  » Read more

Grower: 2010 to be ‘interesting’ for process growers

The process potato market seems to be in a state of suspended animation across the country at the beginning of 2010. From reduced consumption in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) category, a concomitant overabundance of potatoes due to exceptional yield and an economy in recession and you have growers and the processors unsure of how to approach the new year. At the same time growers and grower organizations are waiting to begin contract negotiations with the major processors, Lamb Weston, J.R. Simplot, Heinz and McCain USA. Nate Schroeder, a process grower in southeast Idaho, said the upcoming 2010 planting season would be “interesting.” Schroeder signed a three-year contract with Lamb Weston last year and then had his acres and prices cut back after signing the contract, and he has a hunch that his acreage and his prices will be cut back again in 2010. “I feel that there’s a…  » Read more

First-ever comprehensive industry survey gives growers a voice

Well, if there are two facts you can definitely take away from our 2009 reader survey, it’s that our readers are not shy in expressing their opinions and their opinions are as diverse as the varieties of potatoes out there. Keep in mind that reader response surveys are not scientific studies, and it’s only as reliable is its respondents - in this case, Spudman’s readers, the growers. And of course, we believe in the reliability of our readers. The margin of error in our survey is seven. So, with that rejoinder and clarification, and with no further ado, let’s see what the survey says. Well over 100 growers resonded to Spudman magazine’s inaugural survey. All are male and 85 percent are over 30 years old. A little over 66 percent of the 129 respondents planted some acres of fresh potatoes, 39 percent grew frozen or chip, 6 percent…  » Read more

Florida’s potato industry changing, moving

Southern Florida’s potato industry has seen a dramatic shift in production in recent years as urban sprawl from Miami has decimated fields around Homestead, south of the city. Homestead historically held the largest acres of potatoes in the area, much of the production going to the chipping industry, but the chip companies pulled out of the region as production dwindled to nothing, and the last crop was harvested in 2004. “Growers decided the high cost of production, combined with low yields and competition from stored potatoes, made it impossible to stay in business,” said Mary Lamberts, University of Florida vegetable extension specialist, Miami-Dade County. “The other factor was the housing boom, which was really taking off at that point. After not making money on their potato crops for at least a couple of years, growers were being offered lots of money for their land, which was mostly…  » Read more

Second generation stepping into leadership at one of Idaho’s largest fresh grower-shippers

There’s a change at the helm of Wada Farms, but the direction of one of Idaho’s largest fresh potato producers will be to stay the course, said Bryan Wada, the new president of the multi-tiered company based in Pingree, Idaho. The oldest son of former president Albert Wada, Bryan, 35, a graduate of Snake River High School and Pepperdine University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, recently replaced his father as the president of the company. Under Albert Wada’s leadership the enterprise grew from a 400-acre farm in 1970 to a conglomerate that grows crops on more than 28,000 acres, operates a 140,000 square foot fresh potato packaging plant, a trucking fleet and a fresh potato and onion sales marketing group. Wada Farms is a privately held business that employs more than 250 full-time employees in its four divisions and another 200 part-time employees during harvest and…  » Read more

Growers to have ‘sufficient’ supply in 2010

Early indications for the 2010 water year point to sufficient water storage and ground water reserves to get irrigators through the upcoming growing season in the Pacific Northwest and in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Those interviewed cautioned that prognostications this early in the water year, it begins Oct. 1, are given with a grain of salt and the understanding that all could expectations could change should the January thru March snowfall prove to be disastrously short of even average forecasts. In Idaho the water outlook is good for irrigators, with major storage reservoirs in the Upper Snake River Basin already 67 percent full as of Dec. 4, according to provisional data by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. Hal Anderson, division administrator for the Idaho Department of Water Resources, said that last year’s unseasonably cool and wet spring resulted in less water being drawn down…  » Read more
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