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Steve Tweten, chief executive officer for NoKota Packers, provided The Produce News with his comments and observations about the 2012 potato production season.

“We, at NoKota Packers, harvested the tonnage we expected to and filled our storage completely,” he stated. “The Red River Valley, as a whole, is right at the five-year average for storage volume.”

NoKota Packers is headquartered in Buxton, ND, and has more than three decades of experience storing, washing and packaging tablestock potatoes for resale. 

The company moves Red Norland and Sangre potato varieties from the Red River Valley. Mr. Tweten said shipping will finish around May 1, 2013.

“Quality is a mixed bag this year,” he continued. “With roughly 60 percent of the crop being dug prior to the rain, the Valley is seeing a higher percentage of culls than normal. The spuds harvested after the rain are very, very nice. The sizing is very close to average.”

According to Mr. Tweten, the season has gone extremely well in terms of movement and volume. “Price, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired,” he noted.

Potatoes are marketed under the “Buxton’s Best,” “Bully,” “Roughrider” and “NoKota Pride” labels.

“We added a 50-pound ‘Little Bullys’ as our No. 2 B size label,” Mr. Tweten added. The company packs potatoes in poly bags, paper vent bags, cartons and totes.

On the food-safety front, Mr. Tweten said, “All of NoKota Packers’ growers are now GAP-certified for this season. NoKota Packers is working on becoming PTI compliant.”

This past April, NoKota Packers joined the Fresh Solutions Network, a partnership of five domestic multi-generational potato and onion growers.

Fresh Solutions works to provide the freshest product with the lowest food miles possible.

“This will allow us to reach out to new customers and areas,” Mr. Tweten commented.