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Bushmans’ generally optimistic about new Wisconsin spud crop

The early reviews for Wisconsin’s potato crop are mixed.

Mike Carter, chief executive officer of Bushmans’ Inc., said a recent state potato meeting brought a consensus that some fields are great, and others are not. There is no clear explanation of the sporadic production, the growers agreed.

Carter said the Badger State’s planting season was delayed by late snow. A cold, wet spring followed, which further delayed crop maturity.

Mike-CarterMike Carter“The crop seems to have been behind since planting, but it also seems it’s catching up now,” he said.

Carter noted that “August is ‘Potato Month’ and the first days of August have been fantastic. We’ve had chilly nights, which the potatoes love.” This bodes well for a good harvest, he added.

“We all view the coming harvest through the lens of the last harvest,” he said. “While things are going well so far, everyone remembers the mountain we had to climb for the harvest a year ago.” Last fall was very rainy, which brought mud, further delaying harvest. While Wisconsin growers have a rule of thumb to avoid freeze damage by harvesting before Oct. 7, many spuds were still in the ground when a hard freeze struck Wisconsin on Oct. 10.

“The crop was absolutely short. We had stuff that we couldn’t do anything with, but we were able to make it work,” he said. However, the short Wisconsin potato storage crop finished this year around July 1 — a month early.

As the Russet harvest begins near a normal schedule in Week 34, some potatoes will be packed and shipped off the field. Others will go into storage.

Carter said Bushmans’ has consistent production volumes from year to year and that Wisconsin growers expect to have a production level very much like last year.

Despite some inconsistency in production, Carter said Wisconsin growers “are generally happy with the way we’re starting out. Some fields are better than others. We’re not sure why.”

Bushmans’, based in Rosholt, WI, handles some red potatoes on behalf of other growers but mostly ships the Russets it produces.

Bushmans’ has also had some sales staff changes. Michael Bader and Paul Hegewald have joined the Bushmans’ sales staff, while Jenna Wenzel moved from transportation to sales assistant.”