Potato harvest going strong
REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Farmers are hoping this year's potato harvest will be better than last year.
A manager at Wilcox Fresh potato company says this year we are seeing a good start to the harvest season.
"So far, it's been a really nice fall. The weather's cooperated really well with us for harvest and we've been able to get started. We're probably approaching halfway hoping to finish strong this year," said Derek Peterson, Vice President of shed operations at Wilcox Fresh.
Farmers are crossing their fingers that the weather will continue to cooperate and avoid a repeat of last year.
2019's potato harvest was hit with frost that stopped spud companies in their tracks and caused extensive crop damage.
"Kind of made for a tough year for packing and shipping those potatoes, but we managed to get through. So this year we're holding our breath mother nature holds out for us and provide the weather we need to get the rest of the crop in this year," said Peterson.
When COVID-19 hit earlier this year, spud companies noticed potato demand varied from high to low.
"Our demand has changed a lot in the last 6 months," Peterson said. "As a result of COVID-19, we've had periods of really good demand followed up by periods of really poor demand. Luckily the USDA box program that's been implemented since June of this year has kind of come in and filled the gap."
Early this summer, the USDA came out with a food box program that included potatoes.
The program not only helped ag producers, but it fed hungry families in need during the pandemic.
"That program has really helped and short up the lack of food service demand that we've had the last few months," Peterson said.