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Potato growers rush to get spuds out of the ground before Wednesday

The fear of the freezing temperatures has farmers all around the area working long hours to get the spuds out of the ground as fast as they can.

“I really don’t know a good word for it, you put a lot into the potatoes, put your heart and soul into it every day, do the best you can and mother nature sometimes throws you a curveball, but I’ve always been taught that you do the best you can and you don’t worry about the things you can’t change or do anything about,” said owner of Valley Point Farms, Brook Bybee.

Bybee is one of the many local potato growers who’s harvesting season has been filled with challenges from mother nature. Starting off with soil that has been too wet to harvest.

“We’ve dumped over four inches of rain out of our rain gauges in the last thirty days,” said Bybee.

Now that the soil is just right, the predicted freezing temperature for Wednesday has Bybee’s team working 16-18 hour days, to secure as many potatoes as they can in the cellar.

“Some of these kids and people that are helping us have jobs and school to go back to, and so they’re staying really late and getting up early and going to school, and they’re sacrificing a lot for us,” said Bybee.

Even his fourteen-year-old daughter Brynn, “It makes me kind of stressed out and nervous for my dad but I think we’ll be able to do it.”

Kyle Bybee, brooks dad, has been farming for over forty years, and has seen his fair share of frozen potatoes, “In the morning you’ll go out and it’ll be sparkly frost and the ground will be sparkly frost and if the potatoes have some of that you can see they’re frozen. You can put your thumbnail into the potato and if it pops it’s not frozen but if it doesn’t it can be frozen.”

Along with every other farmer who is in the middle of their harvest, the Bybee’s will continue working hard until the cold weather stops them.

“We’re going to stay here as long as we can tonight until we’re either done with our potatoes in Madison County or my crew quits me,” said Brook Bybee.

Bybee says that as a general rule of thumb potatoes will cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 an acre to raise. He says if the freezing temperatures touch his potatoes, he is expecting to lose around a quarter of them. Although he does have crop insurance, he says you never make money off of crop insurance, it just helps cut the losses down to a tolerable rate.

KIFI 2019

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