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US: Idaho sees lower potato yields but good quality

The weather didn’t always cooperate during Idaho’s 2017 potato-growing season, but in the end, producers turned out high-quality potatoes around the state.

“There is a lower yield this year, primarily driven by too much cold and too much heat at the wrong times,” says Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC). “Growers are good at what they do, but Mother Nature has the last word.”

Still, although fewer potatoes came out of the ground than expected, Muir says the ones that did were of a good quality and were a good tuber size, meaning they will be easier to sell on the market.

In Idaho, 308,000 acres of potatoes were grown this year, which is 15,000 fewer acres than in 2016. About 13 billion pounds of potatoes were harvested.

The majority of Idaho’s potatoes are grown in farms ranging from the Magic Valley on up into eastern Idaho. Sixty percent of Idaho’s potatoes are processed into frozen and dehydrated potato products, 30 percent head to the fresh retail and foodservice market, and about 10 percent are certified seed potatoes.

More than 25 varieties of potatoes are grown around the state. The No. 1 potato variety grown in Idaho is the Russet Burbank, followed by other types of russets: Norkotah, Ranger and Shepody. Also growing in popularity are other varieties such as yellows, reds, purples and fingerlings.

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