News November 2019

Cold, windy harvest could affect Eastern Oregon potatoes

Farmers in Eastern Oregon are optimistic about the size and quality of this year’s potato crop, despite cold weather during harvest that can lead to issues with starch content and bruising, according to a report by Capital Press.

Mark Ward, who grows roughly 200 acres of Russet Burbank potatoes near Baker City, estimated yields are up 5% over the previous year, thanks in part to a more mild summer and much-needed reprieve from wildfire smoke choking out sunlight in the valley.

Ward said potatoes also benefited from a longer growing season, as the first field frost did not come until late September, giving potatoes more time to finish bulking underground. In the past, Ward said farmers could expect frost by Sept. 10.

However, Ward said, when the cold weather did come it was “one of the coldest, windiest harvests we’ve ever had,” with temperatures not getting much over 50 degrees during the day and two below-freezing nights in the teens.

“It definitely affects the quality,” Ward said. “With colder temperatures, the potatoes are going to bruise more.”

Read the full report in Capital Press here