Monday, July 10, 2017

Potato acres down

Potato acres down in 2017

Washington--Idaho potato producers planted just 310,000 acres of spuds this season thats down from 325,000 acres last year, according to the USDA's annual report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

"It looks encouraging come this fall and we're cautiously optimistic with the report," said Stephanie Mickelsen of Mickelsen Farms in Roberts. "Weather can change a lot of things, 16-thousand acres can be made up by growth of a crop pretty quick on yields, but it's a challenge with the weather."

The United Potato Growers of Idaho's estimate is even lower at 307,000 acres. The National Ag Statistics report also reavealed that Washington kept its acreage even with last year at 170,000 acres.

Mickelsen says they're slightly behind in this years crop compared to last year and now they're dealing with the heat.

"Hot weather will stress the crop, if its between 90 and 100-degrees those plants are doing all they can do just to live They're not putting on a whole lot of bulk underneath, so the hot weather stresses them," Mickelsen said.

As bad as that sounds she says the heat wave also has its benefits.

"The heat helps with the fungus, the fields have fungus problems when its cooler and more humid, with this heat we don't have the humidity, so we're looking good there."

Temperatures are expected to ease up for the next few days before they rise again later in the week. Farmers across the Snake River plain are using up a lot of water as they top off the final two weeks of irrigation on the grain crop.  

"We plan so many inches of irrigation water for grain and potatoes. We have a tough decision to make because we need to go another week of water on our grain we might move that water to the potatoes. The next couple of weeks are critical with this weather," added Mickelsen.

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