Ron Budd seeing ‘a very good season’ for New Jersey potatoes
New Jersey potatoes have been exemplified so far by high quality and prices good by historical standards, helped along by pretty decent weather in the state, according to Ron Budd, vice president of Gloucester County Packing Corp. in Woodbury, NJ.
“We’re in the thick of it right now,” he told The Produce News Thursday, Aug. 10. “We’re running New Jersey red, white, yellow and russet varieties. So far the quality and yields have been good for the growers. The market is above average but not as good as last year, which was a once-in-a-lifetime market.”
The red potatoes started on July 14, the whites started on July 19, the yellows started Aug. 3, “and the Russets just started yesterday,” he said. “Red potatoes will finish up in the next week or so. We’ll have white, yellow and Russet varieties into mid-October.” That’s fairly typical for potatoes from the Garden State, he noted.
Asked how the potatoes were looking, he replied, “The quality has been good. We had good growing conditions. We were a little bit dry in June, but all of our growers had irrigation so they were still able to produce an above-average yield. We’ve avoided any torrential rains; we’ve had timely rains.”
Gloucester County Packing Corp. does not grow any product itself, but its 45,000-square-foot facility packs, distributes and handles potatoes and onions from all over the United States and beyond. But with headquarters in the Garden State, Jersey potatoes hold a special significance.
“We’re doing a fair amount of marketing potatoes in the ‘Jersey Fresh’ bag, like we always do,” he said, “but demand is just average.”
Asked how the labor situation was going this year, Budd said, “this is the first year in three years that we’re fully staffed with packinghouse help. That has not been the case in the last three years. As I’ve said previously, our sales were dictated by our production. That is not the case this year.”
In summing up the situation so far, Budd offered this assessment: “Compared to a 10-year average, it’s a very good year. The crops are really made by now. We don’t need much more rain, we really don’t need much more heat. The yields are there. We just need another eight weeks of marketing to move this crop. Barring any Mother Nature curve balls, we can see the finish line. The crop is already made.”