Wada Farms offering full slate of spud varieties from San Luis Valley
The 2021 harvest has been delayed somewhat by Mother Nature, but Wada Farms’ San Luis Valley deal has seen an overall good growing season, according to Sales Agent Michele Peterson.
She said in mid-August what in general “has been a good growing season. We have experienced a variety of weather. We have had warm days and cool days, and we’ve had smoke filled days from distant fires. The harvest will be a little late due to an unseasonable hailstorm in late June that impacted a number of acres.”
Peterson said the operation, which markets for Worley McCullough and has expanded to outside warehouses “to guarantee a wide variety of product for customers,” is handling Russets, reds, yellows, organics and fingerlings from the San Luis Valley.
In addition to its wide selection of varieties, Wada Farms also offers multiple packing options.
“The warehouses have been designed to be flexible with the customers packing requests,” Peterson said. “That flexibility means we can pack any number of food service and retail packs.”
The primary market is “geared mainly on retail,” she said, but with the packing flexibility, the warehouses can switch quickly to other market demands.
Product is sold both domestically and to export markets, and Peterson said in 2020 exports saw a bump.
“We had a larger amount sold for export than we have had in the past,” she said, explaining, “The main reason was due to a smaller profile Colorado had to market this shipping year.”
In addition to the increase in exports, 2020 also brought the restrictions and protocols associated with COVID-19. Peterson said the Wada Farms facilities followed suggestions and were proactive in many measures.
“Our warehouses were very diligent following health protocols that were outlined by county, state and federal requirements on top of food safety regulations that had been drawn out,” she said. “They required masks to be warn at all times and restricted entrance to only designated staff.”
In addition, she said, “We had multiple vaccination sites that were focused on our agriculture industry. Now that society has lifted some of the requirements, the warehouses encourage un-vaccinated staff members to wear face coverings.” She said some non-staff individuals are being allowed back into the warehouse, but Peterson noted, “All custodial practices have remained in place to help maintain a clean and safe environment.”
Going into the new season, Wada Farms, along with virtually every other ag operation, continues to face old problems, including labor and transportation.
“Labor in the valley is very challenging,” Peterson said. “Most warehouses are currently operating on a skeleton crew. To add to the struggle, the farms are beginning their hiring process and will either pull from the warehouse staff or try to hire from the limited outside. As with the rest of our country, transportation is very tight for us.”