(April 4) The Salt Lake City-based United Potato Growers of America has expanded its presence in the industry to a newly formed seed potato division.

Supply management has been a key component of the co-op, which formed in 2004. Since then, it has helped growers come together to reduce U.S. acreage to its lowest level since the mid-1800s.

That strategy of supply management now will be applied to seed potato producers, said Julia Cissel, president and chief executive officer. United plans to facilitate communications between seed potato producers in the various growing regions in an attempt to better match their production with commercial growers’ needs.

“It takes a lot of communication and planning just to make sure that seed growers have the right seed for commercial growers to plant,” she said.

Overproduction of seed potatoes is a problem for the fresh market, Cissel said.

“If seed growers overproduce, then their potatoes actually flow into the fresh market,” she said. “That overage further depresses pricing.”

If seed potato growers no longer overproduce, growers and shippers can expect a more predictable cost of production, Cissel said.

“Our primary objective is to take the peaks and valleys out of the system and to bring stability,” she said.

A chipping potato division — which will join the fresh, processed and seed divisions — is in the developing stages, she said.