Fresh/ Table

Cold took hold: Red River Valley spud disaster is part of national short crop

The Red River Valley potato season was over on Oct. 28, and the Folson Farms of East Grand Forks left 60% of their of their spuds in the field.

Bryan Folson, 57, farms with three of his sons — Caleb, 28; Casey, 27; and Kyle, 23. A younger Riley, 21, is in college.

The Folson family has seen a lot of seasons, and this is one of the toughest. Bryan’s great-grandfather started Folson Potato Co. at Hoople, N.D., in early 1900s and Bryan’s father, Bud, moved it here in 1952 as Folson Farms, Inc.

Today, the Folsons specialize in red and yellow table stock varieties. This is also called “fresh” in the industry. The Folsons sell the A size — about 2.5 inches in diameter. They also sell Gourmet or B size potatoes,

The Folsons had hoped to dig a bit more in late October, but the cold took hold.

“The nail in the coffin was was 18 degrees on Oct. 31 — Halloween. That was after it had been a low of 21 the two previous morning. “It’s very devastating,” Bryan says. “It’s really hard because you had a full crop and you get slaughtered at the end.”

Folson says there is a big potato shortage nationwide, this year. Idaho yields were off 10% to 20% because of growing conditions, followed by an early cold snap down to 13 degrees. The Manitoba crop is short, he said. With the supply shortfall, in the past three weeks prices generally increased 50%.

Read the full story in AgWeek here