Skyline Potato anticipating good year
While yields and sizing might be slightly lower this year, the mood at Skyline Potato was decidedly high ahead of the start of harvest for the new crop.
“Yields could be off a bit and sizing down a little due to a cold snap we had in the [San Luis] Valley early in the season,” said Les Alderete, general manager of Skyline, based in Center, CO. “That got things off to a late start and they never fully caught up. I think we’ll be about a week behind, but we’ll be fine.”
Coming off what was considered a highly successful year, when demand for potatoes surged and pricing was generally stable, Alderete doesn’t believe the late start will have much of an effect.
“We usually see a lull in demand in August and September, as there are other summer crops that are available, and people are harvesting from their own gardens,” he said, adding that by the time fall starts people will be turning their attention more toward potatoes again.
“Despite price increases, potatoes are still one of the best values in the produce department,” said Alderete.
Alderete said the past year has generally been a good one in the San Luis Valley. He said statewide, Colorado will have a few thousand more acres of spuds this year, but he said this is mostly due to crop rotation cycles, and not overplanting to try to capitalize on a good market.
Other factors pointing toward a successful, and hopefully profitable, season include a moderation of input costs that have besieged growers in recent years, when the cost of fertilizer, fuel and packaging materials spiked 40 percent or more. Growers have largely absorbed those increased costs, which further eroded their profit margin.
“Input costs are still high but do not have the sticker shock we have seen in recent years,” said Alderete. “But we are still dealing with high inflation.”
He said transportation is another area that has improved this year, with lower rates than in 2022.
“Plus, we have a freight advantage [compared with other sources] due to our location,” he said, adding that Skyline’s client base is heavy in the Southeast and Southwest.
He added that shipments to the interior of Mexico, which was granted approval last year, represents additional opportunities for Skyline, and all growers in the San Luis Valley.
“Mexico has become a much bigger market for us,” said Alderete. “We had been shipping within the 26-kilometer zone of Mexico, but last May a new marketing order was approved that permitted shipments to the interior, and that gives us more opportunities to do business there.”