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Colorado Potatoes promotes in-state video contest

To heighten the awareness of Colorado potatoes amongst the state’s grade and high school students, the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee invites schools to participate in a video competition. Each school is to create a video about Colorado potatoes.

Linda Weyers, the assistant director of the administrative committee, which is based in Monte Vista, CO, said there are awards for the two school levels.

Winning entries and the teacher both receive $500 awards. Winning schools also receive a free salad bar, if the school can use it.

v2 Weyers’ staff also promotes Colorado potatoes on social media, including Twitter and Facebook. In large part, they work with materials and recipes prepared by Potatoes USA.

Jim Ehrlich, the executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said Jan. 18 that Colorado potato shippers are “slightly ahead of last year” in tonnage-shipped. “Prices are decent, movement is good and the potatoes are holding up well in storage.”

With Wisconsin potatoes being in short supply this season, Colorado potato shippers have a chance to ship heavily this winter. But there is a hope to supply customers until August, so generally speaking, there is some restraint on volumes shipped now.

“It’s hard to say no — especially when prices are OK,” Ehrlich noted.

Although Colorado potato production has been stable for the last five years, Ehrlich said Colorado potato production has declined about 25 percent since 1996. A drought in 2002 was particularly damaging, as the aquifer used by San Luis Valley growers for irrigation was greatly reduced.

Ehrlich has worked for the committee for a dozen years. In that time, five or six packing sheds have gone out of business. This is a sign of consolidation among grower-packers. He observed that this matches consolidation within the country’s retail business.

About 95 percent of Colorado’s potatoes are sold into the fresh market.

“Our principal markets are in the southeastern U.S.,” he said. Key states are Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Texas. “We have a freight advantage over Wisconsin and Idaho” in the Southeast, he noted.

The Colorado potato marketing order brings high-quality standards, which help the state be competitive.

Transportation supplies “are OK this year” for Colorado potato shippers, he added.