July is peak time for the Virginia potato harvest. The past few summers have been unusually tough for the crop: the most recent Annual Potato and Vegetable Review found that 2018 had been “one of the most challenging years in memory” for potato growing, marked by a cool spring that delayed planting, excessive rainfall and poorly-timed intense dry spells. Nevertheless, production amounted to about $17 million in Virginia in 2018.
This year, weather has been bad for the potato elsewhere. Elaine Lidholm, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said it has created “sales opportunities” for Virginia farmers. Prices for the commonwealth’s potatoes have spiked, with some types selling for 15 percent more than last year’s prices and others as much as 120 percent more.
If 2019 is anything like 2018, just under half of the state’s potatoes will go toward “chipstock,” in a continuation of Virginians’ long love affair with the potato chip.