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Idaho spud growers report big size, fewer tubers

Idaho potato farmers are reporting fewer, but larger potatoes at the start of harvest, prompting consumer bag prices to rise and cartons to drop. Early in their potato harvest, Idaho growers say they’re digging fewer spuds than last year, but tuber sizes are much larger. Growers — who are now digging early maturing varieties such as Russet Norkotah, specialty types, reds and Ranger Russets — anticipate yields will be down from last season, but will still be above average. Retired UI economist Paul Patterson is hopeful that cheaper prices during the past season triggered more consumption of fresh spuds, thereby changing consumer behavior. Though Russet Burbank harvest won’t commence until later this month, Idaho Potato Commission President and CEO Frank Muir said test digs indicate Idaho’s major variety will also have larger size but fewer tubers beneath each plant. More