This autumn, Idaho potato farmers are rushing to finish harvest as an “extremely rare” freeze hits Idaho this week. However, this year’s crop might be too late to save.
According to Travis Blacker, director of industry relations at the Idaho Potato Commission, an estimated 15-20 percent of Idaho’s potato crop remains in the ground. With snow falling across East Idaho and parts of the Magic Valley, some farmers will have to decide whether to finish harvesting now, or hope their potatoes will survive the several freezing nights forecast this week.
Onion growers in the Treasure Valley area are in similar straits, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture said, and growers are working overtime to finish the harvest before the freeze. “This is not normal for this time of year,” Blacker said. “Usually we do get maybe a few nights that might hit low 30s, but nothing like mid-15s and snow. Definitely not normal.”
Stephanie Mickelson said Mickelsen Farms in the Idaho Falls area — one of the largest potato farms in the state — barely finished harvest in the early hours of Wednesday. They’re now lending equipment and assistance to neighbors and other farmers in their area who weren’t so lucky. “We finished at 3:30 in the morning,” Mickelsen told the Statesman on Wednesday afternoon. “When we were coming in, we could see lights across the farmland and see farmers still trying to get their crops in.”