Despite problems with the weather, growers of Idaho potatoes are anticipating a good quality crop this year. “We monitor our quality well,” states Kent Sutton of Benchmark Potatoes. Though they have not started harvesting with machinery yet, early indication shows the potatoes are growing well.

Benchmark Potatoes focuses on growing a variety of potatoes conventionally including specialty potatoes like Yukon Jem and Purple Potatoes too keep up with customer demands. While currently exporting to Mexico, plans are in motion to set up exporting to Taiwan. “We’re just beginning to harvest the Norkotah crop. We also expect a good Burbank yield, but are worried about the size profile.”

Russet Burbank potatoes make up 90% of Benchmark’s crop. This year the yield is heavy set, meaning there are a lot of potatoes under each plant. “The average potato count per plant is six to nine. Ours have anywhere from fifteen to twenty.” The weight of the plant becomes divided among so many potatoes, which in turn causes each potato to be smaller than average in size.

The weather is the cause of these heavy set potatoes. Idaho experienced a very cool and wet August. “We got eight times the normal amount of precipitation and a number of our plants were affected by hail.” The weather wrecked any chance at a bumper crop and completely destroyed the farmers rotation crops of wheat and barley as the grains sprouted while standing in the field.