The Black Gold Farms story
A family-owned and operated business that took root in the Red River Valley more than 80 years ago, Black Gold Farms today is a global production, sales and service operation specializing in potatoes. The largest supplier of potatoes to the largest potato chip company in the United States, Black Gold Farms ships more than 500 billion pounds of potatoes each year. In addition to supplying chip, seed and table-stock potatoes, Black Gold Farms grows corn, wheat, soybeans and green beans.
With multiple locations across the country, Black Gold Farms delivers a consistent, reliable product supply precisely matched to customer needs. The company is known internationally for its adoption of advanced technology in the area of chip production and handling, supplier innovation, sustainable agricultural practices and commitment to environmental stewardship.
A history of growth
Red River Valley pioneer A.E. (Hallie) Halverson plants his first crop of potatoes on the home farm near Forest River, ND. The 10-acre plot was planted for re-certification.
Perhaps a precursor of things to come, Hallie grows table-stock potatoes near Miami, FL, for a couple of years. He stays busy for the winter months by hauling the equipment on a flat bed truck from North Dakota to get maximum utilization.
Table-stock potatoes are grown, washed, packaged and sold under the brand "A.E.H." by Hallie’s son, Jack. A new wash plant called the Forest River Potato Company is completed and total acreage is about 400.
Potato acreage jumps to 600 acres and the family sells potatoes into the chip trade for the first time. Kennebec is the industry standard.
Black Gold Farms, Inc. is formed and the Halversons enter the registered Angus cattle business. The new name symbolizes the ebony valley soil and Black Angus hide as well as the golden chip potato skin and the potential value of the business.
Black Gold Farms Potato Sales, Inc., is formed and operates out of the farm near Forest River. The full-service sales operation emphasizes service and quality and is vital to the future success of the enterprise.
At the request of our customers to provide a fresher product closer to their facilities, we grew our first crop in southeast Missouri, making Black Gold Farms the largest potato grower in that state.
Black Gold Farms begins purchasing potatoes for resale from growers in numerous locations and is active in literally all potato production in Central Florida, North Carolina, South Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
Black Gold Farms Potato Sales moves to Grand Forks, ND, and operates year-round as a 24/7 sales, quality control and logistics organization. Currently, a staff of nine handles all the production from our farms as well as seed, chip and processing potatoes from other select growers on a national basis.
Supply issues in Florida lead Black Gold Farms to create a spring chip potato production unit in the Pearsall, TX, area.
The north central production area is added to supply the late summer and fall demand for chip potatoes. A new grading facility with on-scale loading is built in 2000, enhancing efficiency and capability. Black Gold Farms is the largest potato grower in Indiana.
The majority of the seed is used in the company’s southern production areas with the rest sold to other growers throughout the nation.
A state-of-the-art facility is built west of Pearsall, TX, a rapidly growing area with a late April annual harvest startup. Due to extremely hot conditions, an in-line hydrocooler is added to the grading facility to increase quality through wet breakdown elimination.
Located on the MO/AR state line, this production area bridges the harvest schedule between Pearsall, TX, and Charleston, MO. It is a loamy area with an early June harvest startup. A new grading facility is completed in 2002.
Located on the border, the Sturgis location adds flexibility to the timeframe. It has an abundance of irrigated, loamy sand, ideal for chip potato production. New facilities for efficient all-weather grading are used for the first time in 2002.
Black Gold Farms institutes a systematic approach to potato production in China, introducing the country‘s first successful bulk handling and transport system of chip potatoes.
Black Gold Farms expands, necessitating the move of four of its staff into the building occupied by Black Gold Potato Sales, and enhancing communications between the two branches.
The Halversons celebrate 75 years of continuous potato production—years marked by change and innovation as the company evolves into a global production, sales and service organization.
The addition of a Columbia, NC, farm marks a new chapter in Black Gold history. The purchase of the Durwood Cooper Farm moves the company into East Coast shipping lanes and complements the MO/AR shipping window. Soil is a deep, silt loam and the farm also raises corn and soybeans.
Live Oak, FL, with rich, center-pivot irrigated sand, fills the mid-May through June shipment window and is strategically located for easy freight accessibility. A permanent harvest load out facility is added in 2007.
Close to I-75 in south central GA, Hawkinsville serves the important late May to July 4th shipment window and its red irrigated sands are very productive. In 2008, production facilities are integrated to accommodate growth in the region.
A new office and shop are built. Black Gold Farms continues to be the largest potato grower in the state.
The leadership of Black Gold Farms agreed that one of the opportunities to enhance the potato leadership position was by adding table stock potatoes for the fresh and retail markets into the current potato production and marketing. This market expansion for the production and sales teams is essentially a continuation of Gregg's original goal, by extending it to be a leader in the table stock potato industry, and he is continuing to reach for that by following the vision of Black Gold Farms.
Rhodesdale, MD, adds to the summer shipping window along the East Coast. An established chip potato productionarea with irrigated sandy loam soil, the location is ideally situated near northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada chip and table-stock potato usage areas.
Black Gold Farms begins raising sweet potatoes for Lamb Weston in Delhi, LA. As a customer driven enterprise, Black Gold Farms continues to diversify.
Oak Grove is located in the West Carroll Parish of Northeast Louisiana and is the center of sweet potato production on the Macon Ridge. Known for its rich, silt-loam soils, this area produces some of the highest quality sweet potatoes for the fresh and processing markets.
Sweet potato production was added as the market for sweet potato fries began to grow beyond the supply of the traditional growing areas. The farm's location and well-drained loamy soils serve as key advantages during the fresh sweet potato shipping window from early September to mid-October. Sweet potato acreage in Southeast Missouri was expanded to our Charleston, MO location in 2011.
In 2010, peanut production was added to diversify our crop portfolio. The irrigated, loamy sands of Central Georgia are ideal for quality peanut production and the September to October harvest window compliments our spring potato rotation.
The packing shed is a great fit geographically to start shipping fresh Table Stock potatoes about 3 weeks earlier than Missouri.
An eight-acre fingerling Field was planted in Michigan to support the fresh Table Stock business by adding options for customers.
Red table stock potatoes are now grown in Hatton, ND. These potatoes are shipped to the packing facility in Arbyrd, MO. This allows Black Gold Farms to be a year around supplier of Table Stock potatoes.