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Idaho potato experts predict good-quality crop

With about 5 percent of Idaho’s potato crop harvested, experts are predicting a good quality crop with typical yields.

“This year, we expect yields within the five-year average,” Idaho Potato Commission President Frank Muir said. “I think it will supply all the customers’ needs without putting any undue pressure on prices. I think we’ll have a good quality crop that is just about the right size.”

University of Idaho Extension Educator Lance Ellis told the Post Register that adequate water storage helped with drought conditions in many parts of Idaho.

“We had the storage for it,” he said. “Farmers were able to get what they needed early on. Without that storage, we would not have been able to do what (was needed).”

A cold spring that postponed planting by several weeks means that many growers are harvesting later this year.

“In 2012, we had a very warm, dry spring, which allowed farmers to get in their fields earlier, but this year not so much,” Ellis said. “This year was a colder spring, but it turned into a very hot summer.”

About 315,000 acres were planted with potatoes this year in Idaho. About 340,000 were planted in 2012. Muir said the decline is the result of an overabundance of potatoes last year.

“In 2012, some of those acres didn’t have a home (with buyers or processors) when they were planted, which put some pressure on the overall supply,” Muir said.

Dillon VanOrden of Garth VanOrden Farms in Pingree says the quality and size of the potatoes he’s harvested so far look good. He’s harvested about 45 percent of his 2,000-acre crop and hopes to finish in early October. He started harvesting Aug. 22 because of a late-summer spike in potato prices.

“We saw a niche in the market and we thought we should capitalize on it,” VanOrden said. “Plus we got them in early, so our spuds were ready earlier.”


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