Potato harvest yields better than expected
Some varieties have sized up better than others this season
COUNTY—By all accounts this year’s potato crop is yielding better than expected considering the dry conditions the crop endured throughout the summer.
The quality of the crop is good, but the color is not the best. According to Chris Thompson, Grafton area potato farmer the appearance of the red potato isn’t what people are used to.“They’re not that brilliant bright red,” he said. “The potatoes are getting some mechanical bruising and nicked up.”
That’s nothing a little rain wouldn’t help fix, said Mike Torgerson, general manager of Associated Potato Growers in Grafton.
Torgerson said he expects the crop to store well and he said there is nothing physically wrong with the potatoes.
“They will bake, boil and fry up as good as always,” he said. “They just don’t have the color people are used to seeing.”
Thompson said having red potatoes spread out in front of bright lights at the grocery store doesn’t help matters any either.
“You take a red potato and put it in your kitchen under the table light and tell me what it looks like in three days,” he said. “Exposure to light will make fresh potatoes look old.”
Even under the best conditions this year’s crop isn’t marketing well right now, according to Torgerson.
“We’re looking at about $9 a hundredweight,” he said.
Walsh County Extension Agent Brad Brummond said what he’s heard from some of the potato growers is that there weren’t a lot of potatoes consumed over the summer.
“They say when it is hot like this that people don’t eat a lot of potatoes,” he said.
Brummond said the early planted potatoes will probably yield the best as they escaped the heat more so than the later planted spuds.
Torgerson said the bags per acre are there with some fields running 250 bags per acre.
“The lack of rain hasn’t seemed to affect the size all that much. There are plenty of good sized potatoes.,” he said. “The Norlands seemed to have sized up better than the Sangre, but there are plenty of good sized potatoes available.”
Nash area potato farmer Barry Kingsbury said there will be no shortage of potatoes around for the winter.
Brummond said there are some concerns in the potato crop used for french fries as they haven’t sized up so well.
Kingsbury said the Shepody potato variety is a concern to some growers as they put on size late in the season.
“The lack of moisture may be a concern with that variety and other similar varieties. I would assume the later planted potatoes aren’t going to yield as well due to the dry conditions and the heat of the summer,” he said. “Right now we’re digging chip potatoes and we are pleasantly surprised with the yields and the quality. There is some moisture beneath there and they are coming off better than I expected.
“Regardless of whether it’s potatoes, wheat or beans the yields we have experienced this fall can be directly attributed to the nice, warm, early spring
Torgerson estimated about one-third of the crop has been harvested, so far.
“We sure could use some rain to soften those dirt lumps,” he said. “The dry conditions are nicking and bruising up the crop more than we would like.”
Thompson said all things considered he is pleased with this year’s potato crop.
“Considering the lack of rain the crop is yielding well,” he said.
Brummond said that producers shouldn’t think that having a nice potato crop or beet crop, which he said is also yielding well with these dry conditions is something that is going to happen two years in a row.