WSPC Staff Growing Contest

Sep 26, 2014

2014 Harvest Season

Right now potato growers throughout Washington are in full swing with harvest. The day has finally arrived when they have the opportunity to see how their hard work throughout the planting and growing seasons has paid off. However, the harvest season wouldn’t be official if the staff at the WSPC didn’t have a chance to see how their labors were rewarded with the annual potato growing challenge. The competition provides just a small look at what the real growers face on a yearly basis.

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After having the spring to determine how they would want to approach the competition, each staff member was provided three Russet Burbank seed pieces, some potting soil, and a pot in early April. Everyone planted their potatoes on the same day and at that time they had to select which potato market they would want to sell their potatoes to. The choices were:

• Frozen processing contract
• Dehydration contract
• Fresh market contract
• An open market contract

Each contract has size and quality provisions in addition to a set price that is agreed to at the day of planting. There is risk and reward with each choice, you might get paid more for potatoes grown for the fresh market, but your quality standards are more difficult to achieve versus a contract where the potatoes will be dehydrated and processed into an instant potato product. You could select the open market, but in April you don’t know what the market price looks like in September. These type of choices face all of us on planting day, and are the same type of decisions growers in Washington make but of course, on a much larger scale.

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How the crop is managed is up to each individual as they best see fit. In an effort to keep things on a level playing field the only rule is that you must grow your potatoes in the pot, other than that you are free to do whatever you want. A couple of staff members buried their pots in an actual potato field, some left them at the office, and others took their pots home so no one would know what their growing secrets were.

After all of our work….what does the winner receive? Mainly just the pride in knowing they beat their fellow employees and your name also goes up on a plaque in the office for all visitors to see. Our harvest day has come and everyone’s potato crop was graded and weighed to determine who brought in the most revenue based on the contract they had selected.

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This year proved to be a tough growing season for most of the staff as the extreme summer heat apparently took a toll on most of our crops. However, somehow this year’s winner was able to shatter the previous record for projected yield and revenue amongst all previous staff competitions.

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Congratulations to Chris, who chose a dehy contract for his potatoes. When the numbers of his pot were aggregated over an actual field he would have grown 231,800 pounds per acre according to his contract specs. The staff average ended up being nearly 60,000 pounds per acre or exactly the average yield size of Washington’s actual potato fields, the most productive potato fields in the world.

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