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Wallace Farms offers organic golds for first time

As he looks forward to the start of the 2017 Skagit Valley potato season in late August or early September, G&D Wallace/Wallace Farms Co-owner and Sales Manager Jack Wallace said his operation in Burlington, WA, has changed its variety lineup to include organic golds this year.

“We stopped our organic russets,” Wallace said. “Now we’re doing organic golds for the first time. We are seeing more call for golds, and the organic russet market is pretty bloated.”

In addition to the golds, G&D Wallace also offers organic reds, he said.

GD-Wallace-Skagit-Valley- George Wallace, Jack Wallace, Tim Wallace, Denise McDonald and Heather Jennings of Wallace Farms. The conventional product mix remains the same with reds, whites, golds and purples, with reds comprising the largest volume.

Wallace said conditions leading into the new season have been mostly favorable, and he said the crop looked good in early August.

“We’ll start somewhere between August 25 and the first week of September,” he said. “It might have been earlier, but drier weather lately has slowed things up. We had a wet spring, which pushed planting back a little. But we’re still well within our normal start time, and the crop looks really nice. I have gone out in the field, and I believe people will be pleased. There will be lots of reds, whites, golds and purples.”

He noted the operation has made technological upgrades in every phase of production, from planting to packing. The farm uses a four-row planter and GPS controls for tractors. Irrigation is done mostly by reels, Wallace said. In the packingshed a mechanical sizer is being used, and Wallace said the company is considering optic grading and sizing.

In correlating automation with labor issues, he noted, “Automation answers a lot of problems, but it’s not necessarily the whole answer to the nation’s labor problems. We need immigrants, and I think we’ll continue to find solutions that are less labor intensive. Jobs will continue to evolve and become more technologically intense.”

The eight-month shipping season of the company’s potatoes focuses largely on retail, although Wallace said wholesale is also a large sector of his marketplace. The company exports to Canada, but he said due to the more delicate nature of red-skinned and white potatoes, “Beyond Canada, we don’t really send outside the country.”

He added, “The eight-month season works out well for us. We’d rather have the product be good the entire shipping period than have product that is ‘tired’ by June, July and August.”

G&D Wallace works closely with its retail partners in promoting the potatoes by providing point-of-sale materials such as posters and recipe cards, Wallace said.