What a drop in local potato acreage will mean for consumers

Going into the 2022 growing season, everyone was concerned about the amount of water we had.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 5:36 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Going into the 2022 growing season, everyone was concerned about the amount of water we had.

“The reservoirs were substantially lower than normal, and the snowpack was lower than normal,” said Duane Grant, a potato farmer based out of Rupert.

For potato farmers like Grant, this was a bad thing. Not only are they a high-water crop, but they’re also quite an investment.

“They’re so expensive to plant that you just simply can’t take the risk of running out of water,” he said.

It wasn’t just concerns about the upcoming water year, however. Grant says the price of fertilizer also had an impact on the price of potatoes from the field to the grocery store.

“Potato prices have risen, and we’ll get into an equilibrium where the value of what we’re producing will offset the higher input costs,” Grant said.

However, until that equilibrium is reached, both farmers and consumers are facing uncertainties - especially in times of global unrest continuing to bring costs up.

“They were going up before the Ukraine situation,” said Sean Ellis of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. “That just exacerbated things.”

Grant was still willing to take that chance.

“This potato field takes about 300 pounds of nitrogen to grow a full crop,” he said. “So it was a very significant decision to decide to spend twice as much money this year as we did last.”

While these input costs rose, some good news came - in the form of April showers.

“Thankfully this year, we’ve got a phenomenal quality crop coming,” Grant said. “The spring rains were helpful.”

Because of this, officials say market demand will likely be reached this year. This will likely keep rising prices from reaching out of control.

“There’s not going to be any shortage of French Fries,” said Ellis. “No shortage of chips. We’re still going to produce a lot of potatoes.”

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