A hot and dry growing season has left some Idaho potato farmers bracing for a poor crop. Randy Hardy of Oakley stated that his harvest will likely be the worst of his career. Statewide, spud farmers conducting test digs or early harvest are uprooting plants supporting no tubers. Where there are potatoes, there are fewer than normal, and most of the tubers are undersized and misshapen.
Westport-news.com quoted Hardy as saying: “I’ve never had this happen before, and I’ve got an agronomist who works with me on potatoes and he’s been doing it for over 20 years and he said he’s never seen a worse crop than this.” Hardy raises spuds for the fresh market and serves as chairman of the board of Sun Valley Potatoes. Still, he isn’t scheduled to harvest until Sept. 20, and he’s hoping the extra time will allow his tubers to add a bit more bulk.
Many fields lacked deep soil moisture when the potatoes were planted. Then the state was hit with record-high heat in June, contributing to fewer potatoes growing beneath each plant. Hardy believes the smoke-filled air from Western wildfires also harmed plants by impeding the stage of growth when each potato adds bulk. Farmers are left with fewer and smaller potatoes, he said.