Wada Farms organic programs continue to grow

wadabox Organic programs for potatoes and other products at Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC in Idaho Falls, ID, continue to grow larger every year amid ongoing work to develop ever-better varieties and to fine-tune yields, quality and storability. “We do that year-after-year to assure that the program continues to evolve in the right direction,” said Kevin Stanger, president.

The company also continues its efforts to extend the shipping season for its organic products, with a goal of extending availability as close to year-round as possibler.

The organic programs for russet potatoes are more tried-and-true and more highly developed than those for colored potatoes, Stanger said. Wada Farms now offers Norkotahs and Burbanks, nearly year-round. The company and its growers also do a great job on red and yellow potatoes, but as compared to the russets, the colored varieties offer more opportunity to work on and refine the program.

Wada Farms has tested organic production of many varieties of colored potatoes. They have had good luck with some varieties, while others have been disappointing. But overall, the organic colored potato programs seem to get better every year, and the availability of organic colored potatoes from Wada Farms’ own fields is getting a little longer each year. Stanger said he expected to be able to offer Idaho-grown organic colored potatoes nine to 10 months this coming season.

The potatoes for the 2020 harvest have been planted, and the new crop is expected to be ready to dig by mid- to late-August. Shipments should continue into June or early-July.

During the peak of summer, when Idaho organics are unavailable, Wada Farms can supplement the Idaho crop with organic potatoes from California. That helps fill in the gap for customers, Stanger said, but the California potatoes can be quite expensive at that time of year.

The length of the shipping season is largely a function of how long the potatoes can be stored. Wada Farms’ organic growers are continually working to improve their storage technology and their potato handling and storage practices in order to extend storage life, Stanger said.

A successful organic program is also dependent on the growing area. Some locations are better suited to organic production than others, and Wada Farms’ organic growers have selected some great growing areas, he said. In addition to organic russet and colored potatoes, Wada Farms grows and markets organic onions and organic sweet potatoes.

The organic onions come from various growing areas, and availability at any given time depends on how much organic acreage is in production in each area. Currently, Wada Farms ships organic onions from about August through May.

The company’s organic sweet potatoes, like its conventionally-grown potatoes, come out of North Carolina, and the organic season mirrors conventional season.

Most of Wada Farms’ retail customers sell both conventional and organic products in their produce departments. Since Wada Farms offers a full line of potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes, both conventional and organic, those customers are able to meet all of their needs in those categories from a single source.

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