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Season steady for Monte Vista Potato Growers

Describing the 2017-18 shipping season as “so far so good,” Monte Vista Potato Growers General Manager Jason Tillman said in January he expects to clean up the current crop in July and start shipping new-crop spuds “around Labor Day.”

mvpg-colo-potato-feb5Jason TillmanIn that respect, the year is going according to plan, he said. “Prices are holding steady, and business has been pretty steady across the board,” Tillman said.

“We had a good Thanksgiving push and a pretty good Christmas as well,” he said. “Things are getting a little tougher with trucks and minimum wage, and it’s slowed down a bit. But we’re still alright and where we should be.”

As with many in the San Luis Valley potato grower-shipper community, Tillman noted ongoing tightening of truck availability and increase in freight prices. On Jan. 1 Colorado’s minimum wage went up to $10.20 per hour. But he said, “Our sales are consistent.”

Mexico is a large market, and Tillman said loads to the 26-kilometer buffer zone continue on schedule.

Looking at the upcoming season, he said no big changes are planned for his company. “Acreage will stay pretty much the same, and our varieties will remain russets and yellows,” he said. “The one thing that could impact the valley is the lack of snow.”  

Labor is “always a struggle,” he said, adding the long-term plan at MVPG is for increased automation, starting at the shed.

“Auto balers and stackers are definitely part of the plan within the next five years,” he said.