MELBA, Idaho -- Idaho has always been known as the potato state, but another crop has surpassed the spud when it comes to the number of acres devoted to growing it.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service says the number of acres devoted to growing corn has surpassed the potato. Growers in Idaho say the majority of the corn produced here is used as animal feed, mostly for dairies.
Travis Christensen, with Christensen Farms in Melba, is growing about 3,000 acres of corn this season. The majority of that corn will be cut down, chopped up and turned into silage for local dairies.
Christensen credits the number of dairies moving into Idaho as the reason why corn is in such high demand and why, for the first time ever, corn has surpassed the Idaho potato when it comes to the number of acres devoted to growing it.
“You know, fifteen years ago when I first started farming there weren't any dairies around here and now it's kind of covered by them,” said Christensen.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service shows that Idaho corn planted for all purposes totaled 390,000 acres. That's a jump of almost 22 percent compared to last year.
“That's what they want, the corn, and that kind of drives the market,” said Christensen.
Just a few weeks ago, Christensen said the price for grain corn spiked to about $300 a ton.
In 2008 and 2009, Idaho growers planted about 300,000 acres of corn.