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Potato Seed Farmers Face Late Season

Potato seed farmers are battling Mother Nature to get their seeds in the ground.

The problem is the ground is too wet and the temperatures are too cold. This means a shorter growing period.

“This season has been especially hard because every time we are about to get into the fields for a couple days it rains us out. It takes sometimes five to 10 days to dry up in good enough shape in preparation for planting,” said Dennis Fransen of Dennis Fransen Farms.

Commercial potato farmers rely on potato seed farmers to be able to grow potatoes. But potato seed farmers in return rely on the weather for their very short growing period.

A shorter growing period means less product to sell and smaller potatoes.

“Some people think the smaller one is better for seed, but a lot of commercial growers like the medium to little bit bigger to cut for themselves,” said Fransen.

But the problem is, it’s too wet to plant.

“There was a window last year in May where most growers got their seed in. And this year it has affected almost all growers here in Ashton and Driggs,” said Fransen

Ashton is a Certified Seed Management Area, and commercial potatoes cannot be grown there.

In Idaho Falls, Mark Andrews of Mountain West Select feels fortunate he got his seeds in the ground.

“If the potatoes that were planted on time haven’t done very well in the cold temperatures and we are anticipating reduction in yield, we are anticipating on our farm being two weeks late,” said Andrews.

“We always look for a perfect year, but we hardly ever get one,” said Fransen.

Farmers said if seeds aren’t planted soon, it could mean a shortage of potatoes for seed farmers the following year.

According to some farmers in Ashton, less than half of all farmers there have their seeds already in the ground.

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