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Potato crops expand

After two years of dwindling potato harvests, this fall’s crop may just make up for it.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, potato growers will see overflowing yields for several reasons.

For one, Mother Nature has decided to be kind, at least for now.

Preliminary indicators show crops of potatoes will do well, although weather conditions could prove to be a wildcard in upcoming months.

But also, farmers have expanded their growing acreage in Idaho and around the U.S.

For Bonneville County grower James Hoff, there’s nothing quite like an Idaho potato fresh out of the ground.

Several farms around the state are widening that area of ground right along with their crops.

USDA statistics show this year alone, growers have planted more than a million acres.

That’s an increase of 45,500 from 2011, with 20,000 of those acres planted as fall potatoes in Idaho.

“The increase that we’re seeing primarily comes from contract acres with processors,” said Hoff.

Whether or not this will produce a high potato yield is not guaranteed. Hoff said between now and the end of September, anything can happen.

“Mother nature is funny. She can throw you a curveball at anytime. We kind of say in the industry, ‘The barn door’s not shut yet,'” said Hoff.

It’s not shut on what prices will be either. Hoff said growers will have to work out of a slump.

“It’s kind of tough, because prices are terrible right now,” said Hoff.

If potatoes do too well, causing a record supply, that massive spud crop might drive those prices even lower.

Hoff isn’t worried though, because the new acres are already under contract.

“It shouldn’t affect the fresh market per se, but it gives the perception that we do have an excess amount of potatoes in the state,” said Hoff.

Hoff himself has not planted more acres of potatoes this year.

He said overall, crops are on par for where they should be, which is what other growers have confirmed.

Idaho remains the leading state when it comes to potatoes, with 345,000 acres planted for fall harvest.

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