Author Archives: wadaAdmin

Red spud prices expected to return to record highs

SHELLEY, Idaho—Red and yellow potato prices were at historically high levels at the start of August.

As growers throughout the country rushed to dig and capitalize on record prices, however, Shelley, Idaho, grower Reed Searle believes the market for red and yellow spuds became saturated. He watched prices for No. 1, size A, 2,000-pound tote bags of reds drop from about $40 per hundredweight shortly after the start of the month to $14 by Aug. 16.

But Searle, who himself dug his reds earlier than ever before this season, isn’t fretting. He, like many red and yellow spud growers in the Northwest, sees evidence of short crops, due to weather problems in major colored potato regions, and believes prices will rebound in a matter of months.

“They’ve never seen prices like this, so everyone jumps on board,” Searle said, adding such a specialized market is prone to big swings. “Now we’ll just put stuff away and let the dust settle.”

Prices for the 2012-2013 crop started low after harvest and shot up in the spring, hovering at record highs until the recent drop. Searle, who raises 600 acres of reds and 200 acres of yellows for Eagle Eye Produce in Idaho Falls, ships his crop from Aug. 1 through June 1. He switched from growing Russets to colored potatoes in 1998.

“It seemed like more restaurants and food service were going for (reds),” Searle said.

Shane Watt, vice president of sourcing with Wada Farms in eastern Idaho, said poor red crops planted during winter in warm growing areas, damage from heavy rains in key red and yellow seed production areas and expectations of reduced yields in some of the major red and yellow fall commercial growing areas should lead to a favorable supply for the 2013-2014 crop. He predicts this fall’s red and yellow crops will again fetch record prices.

“In general, the red market has been at record highs for several months. It is coming off a little bit, but the forecast, if we can get through harvest, supplies will be limited throughout the season,” Watt said. “We should be able to market this crop at near record levels on pricing.”

Watt said red and yellow harvest started about a week early in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas and other major growing areas as growers—especially those without storage—sought to capture peak prices.

Wada Farms has grown its red production 5-6 percent since installing a line in its Pingree, Idaho, processing plant to sort reds and yellows, Watt said. He said acreage has increased steadily in Idaho, though reds and yellows are still niche products, and there’s been a trend toward fresh packing sheds adding equipment to sort colored varieties, which must be polished and handled differently than Russets.

In Washington’s Skagit Valley, a major red and yellow production area, acreage has held flat for the past few years, said Dale Hayton, sales manager with Valley Pride Sales. He said weather damage during each of the past two seasons has held production in check, and he expects an average crop from his region this season.

“We’re a little bit concerned about size and yield,” Hayton said. “There’s been quite a bit of weather damage in the Midwest. We expect the market to be quite strong for this particular crop.

Southeast Idaho grower Ritchey Toevs has noticed healthy increases in demand in recent years for his red potato seed.

However, Toevs sees limitations to growth in the market. Processors have already contracted for their needs with reds and yellows, there’s no dehydrated market for them, and he said it’s more risky to grow fresh colored spuds without a contract than Russets, which can be sold to a multitude of buyers.

“I think people are pretty cautious about expanding into varieties that have only one place to go,” Toevs said.


Click here for link to article

Rain causes delays, possible shortages of sweet potatoes

08/29/2013 02:18:00 PM
Melissa Shipman


Heavy rains this year have delayed the southern sweet potato crop. Here, one of Wada Farms’ growers’ sweet potato seed beds have standing water on them on May 24, at a field in Princeton, N.C.A wet year has caused delays and possible shortages in sweet potato crops in the South, growers say.

“The rain has affected a lot of areas, and I think harvest will be two to three weeks later than normal,” said George Wooten, president of Wayne E. Bailey Produce Inc, Chadbourn, N.C.

Kim Matthews, co-owner of Wynne, Ark.-based Matthews Ridgeview Farms, says she expects their crop to only be about a week late at this point.

“We’ll be harvesting late,” she said.

Wooten says the delayed harvest also likely will mean smaller potatoes.

“With the delayed crop, we probably won’t have as many jumbo sweet potatoes as we normally do,” he said.

Delays could affect holiday volumes

Norman Brown, director of sales for the Raleigh, N.C. office of Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC, says he’s concerned about the upcoming holiday season.

“Thanksgiving is a big mover of sweet potatoes, and the late start may not give us enough product to get through the holiday,” he said.

The issues began at planting time, said Stewart Precythe, president and chief executive officer of Southern Produce Distributors Inc., Faison, N.C.

“When we were transplanting the crop into the field, we had a lot of rain, which got us behind,” he said.

Typically, plants go into the ground between May 15 and June 20, said Precythe, though this year some growers were still planting in July.

It’s still undetermined how the crop will be affected by the late start, although harvest will be later and it’s likely to be smaller.

“Some are predicting the crop to be 10% short. Personally, I think it’s at least 20% short, and it could be shorter depending on the weather we have between now and harvest,” Precythe said.

One reason the outlook is so unpredictable is that the rain varied largely in different areas.

“In a three-mile difference in area, you could have several inches difference in rainfall,” said Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the Smithfield, N.C.-based North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission.

Some locations may be more affected, depending on the soil content.

“Where the soil was too heavy, those fields are likely to have extremely light yields, if any at all,” said Kendall Hill, co-owner of Tull Hill Farms, Kinston, N.C.

However, with as much as 40 inches of rain in June and July, Hill said, there’s likely to be lower yields all around.

“The rest of the crop will also have a setback,” he said.

Hoping for optimal fall weather

Growers need higher temperatures and sunny skies in the coming months.

“We’re hoping we have a good fall with good growing conditions. We need that 85- and 95-degree weather,” Precythe said.

An early freeze would be bad news for growers.

“If we have an early frost, it could be the shortest crop in North Carolina in 20 or 30 years, but it all depends on the weather in September and October,” Precythe said.

Matt Garber, partner at Garber Farms, Iota, La., is optimistic about Louisiana’s crop.

“Right now, the expectation is for an average harvest,” he said.

Garber also hopes the season won’t start too late.

“Most of Louisiana’s crop got put in a little later than normal, but the harvest could be about the same as it normally is,” he said.

In addition to the rain delays, sweet potato acreage in the South is down.

Charles Walker, executive secretary of the U.S. Sweet Potato Council, Columbia, S.C., says acreage is down about 11%, according to information from the National Agriculture Statistics Service.

“In 2012, the production estimates had 135,500 acres. The forecast for this year is only 116,100,” he said.

The shorter supplies likely will be especially noticed in the spring and summer of next year.

Current pricing

Sweet potatoes out of North Carolina were shipping at $15-16 for 40-pound cartons of U.S. No. 1 orange-type potatoes; $10-13 for U.S. No. 1 petite; $7-9 for U.S. No. 2; and $8-10 for ungraded jumbos. according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

“I do believe it will affect the potential summer market because acreage is down, and the demand seems to be going up,” Wooten said.

Wooten said growers were uncomfortable with last year’s high acreage.

“Some prices came down below production costs, so it didn’t make sense to plant as much,” he said.

– See more at:

Wada Farms on Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race”

Behind-the-Scenes of Food Network TV show!

Want to see our behind-the-scenes photos from the September 1st airing of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race Season 4” visit to Wada Farms? This popular TV show, hosted by chef Tyler Florence, traveled to Idaho where we were lucky enough to be a part of it!

Wada Farms/Idaho Episode Re-Air Dates:

Channel:  Food Network
Show Name:  The Great Food Truck Race Season 4
Episode:  Pocatello is all about potatoes, you dig?
9/5 @ 9pm (EST), 9/6 @ 12am (EST), 9/7 @ 4pm (EST), 9/8 @ 5pm (EST)
You can also buy the “Potatoes in Pocatello” episode of The Great Food Truck Race Season 4 on iTunes.

Show info:

Chef Tyler Florence is back to host the fourth season of The Great Food Truck Race. Like last season, the food truck teams are made up of newbies who dream of one day operating their own mobile restaurant business. There’s a lot at stake: the winning team gets $50,000 and gets to keep their truck.

Each week one food truck team is eliminated on the 4,181-mile coast-to-coast road trip from Hollywood to Washington D.C.  Along the way Tyler puts the contestants through challenges, with each new one more difficult than the last. And this year the route is the longest yet, so these teams are in for the ride of their lives.

The new season of this popular reality cooking show competition has already visited the cities of Hollywood, San Francisco and Portland.  This past Sunday night the show visited Pocatello, Idaho.  Also appearing on the episode was Idaho grower/shipper/marketer Wada Farms Potatoes.

Chris Wada, Director of Marketing for Wada Farms stated, “What trip to Idaho would be complete without a visit to a famous Idaho potato field and shipping facility.  It was a lot of fun to be a part of the show and represent not just Idaho potatoes and the community, but also highlight America’s produce industry as a whole.”

Episode Synopsis:

The six teams remaining enter the mountains of Pocatello, Idaho. For their Speed Bump challenge, they have to rework their dishes to get rid of all starches on their menus. On day two, they’re given their Truck Stop challenge: they have to dig up the potatoes they need at a nearby farm, and they’ll need a lot, as the potatoes must be the main ingredient in all menu items. After reaching their sales goal, they race to a vista high above the city, where the first three teams to arrive win a reward, and the team who sold the least over the weekend is eliminated.

Behind-the-Scenes Photos:

To view a lot more photos of the behind-the-scenes look at the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race Season 4” visit to Wada Farms check out their Facebook page  The remaining episodes of the show can be seen on the Food Network channel every Sunday at 9pm/8c.

Photo of host Tyler Florence’s phone interview to contestants from inside Wada Farms shipping facility.


Photo of host Tyler Florence at Wada Farms Potatoes in Pingree, ID.


Photo of film crew setup at Wada Farms potato field.


Photo of filming at Wada Farms potato fieldgftr_4

Photo of the six remaining food truck teams standing in Wada Farms field.


Photo inside the video production tent during filming at Wada field.


Photo of the six remaining food trucks at Wada Farms.


Photo of Wada Farms original 1934 Ford Truck restored in time for this years 70th Anniversary.


Photo of contestants digging up Idaho potatoes at Wada Farms.


Photo of the Aloha Plate food truck leaving Wada Farms potato field.


Photo of the Tikka Tikka Taco and Frankfoota food trucks  leaving Wada Farms potato field.


Screenshots from the “Pocatello Is All About Potatoes, You Dig?” episode of The Great Food Truck Race:

Photo of Tyler Florence in the show open at Wada Farms.


Another photo of Tyler Florence in the show open at Wada Farms.


Photo of Tyler Florence welcoming the food truck contestants to Wada Farms in Idaho.gftr_22

Photo of Wada Farms fresh potato shipping facility located in Pingree, ID.gftr_23

Photo of Tyler Florence making a phone call to contestants inside Wada Farms shipping facility.


Photo of Wada Farms original truck that brought the family to Idaho in 1943.  gftr_25

Photo courtesy of the Food Network of contestants digging potatoes during the show.iphone_141

Video from the “Pocatello Is All About Potatoes, You Dig?” episode of The Great Food Truck Race:

Video from the “Pocatello Is All About Potatoes, You Dig?” episode of The Great Food Truck Race:


Click here for more behind-the-scenes photos at Wada Farms Facebook Page!


Click here for The Great Food Truck Race show page on the Food Network site!


Wada Farms:

Cultivating Excellence since 1943, Wada Farms is proud to be celebrating satisfaction by the truckload for 70 years. Potatoes, Onions & Sweet Potatoes… It’s Gotta Be Wada!

Idaho Potato Museum – NEW Wada Farms Exhibit!

What is better than a brand new life-size cutout of Marilyn Monroe? How about your picture standing next to it.


Look at our NEW Wada Farms sponsored exhibit at the Idaho Potato Museum, located in Blackfoot, ID. We are happy to help support both the museum and local community!









Below are photos from the grand opening to our new exhibit at the Idaho Potato Museum on August 16th, 2013.  The event was the celebration of the 100 year birthday of the railroad depot (now the museum), the 30 year anniversary of the Bingham County Historical Society, the 25 year anniversary of the potato museum, the 70 year anniversary of Wada Farms and the unveiling of the new Marilyn Monroe exhibit.


Add to all of that celebrating a very talented group of dancers appropriately dressed like Marilyn and the support of the local community for a great event!





Original 1934 Ford Truck

In celebration of our 70th year anniversary of Wada Farms, the original 1934 Ford truck that brought the Wada family to Idaho in 1943 has been restored.  Please enjoy the following photos!

Original truck shown in photo


Restoration – Spring to Fall 2012


Restoration was completed just-in-time for PMA Fresh Summit trade show


Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on ESPN!


big_blue_with_cheerleaders_2_website fan_photo1

I.F. Chukars “Potato Night” Baseball Game


Tri-Digital Group 70th Year Anniversary Photo


Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID – NEW Wada Farms Exhibit


Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race Season 4” hosted by Tyler Florence



Wada Farms 70th Year Anniversary 1934 Ford Toy Replicas


Illustrated version of our truck


NEW Trade Ad Campaign


70 Year Anniversary Logo