News October 2019

‘Definitely not normal’: Idaho potato farmers rush to beat early freeze

Idaho potato farmers are rushing to finish harvest as an “extremely rare” freeze hits Idaho this week. But this year’s crop might be too late to save.

Travis Blacker, director of industry relations at the Idaho Potato Commission, said that an estimated 15-20% of Idaho’s potato crop remains in the ground. With snow falling across East Idaho and parts of the Magic Valley, some farmers will have to decide whether to finish harvesting now or hope their potatoes will survive the several freezing nights forecast this week.

Onion growers in the Treasure Valley area are in similar straits, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture said, and growers are working overtime to finish the harvest before the freeze.

“This is not normal for this time of year,” Blacker said. “Usually we do get maybe a few nights that might hit low 30s, but nothing like mid-15s and snow. Definitely not normal.”

Harvesting during freezing temperatures can hurt the quality of the potatoes or spoil them completely, Blacker said. The rush can also lead to accidents on the farm or the road.

Read report here