Eastern Idaho potato farmers had a strong crop this year, but a recent drop in prices has some growers concerned.
The size, shape and overall quality of potatoes appears to be improved across the state compared to the soggy 2014 season, said Idaho Potato Commission President Frank Muir . But for many farmers, the yield will be down.
Prices for cartons, which hold larger potatoes, have dropped precipitously in recent weeks. Conversely, prices for bags — which hold smaller spuds — have risen.
"Overall, we're very pleased with how the crop turned out," said Kent Sutton, who farms outside Rexburg, told the Post Register (http://is.gd/ZS8fId). "I don't know if it could be labeled a banner crop, but it's slightly above average yield with well above average usable (potatoes)."
Sutton, who finished harvesting Thursday, said potatoes were larger and generally lacked cracks or growth features such as "arms," ''legs" or other knobs.
"The size last year was a nightmare, and this year we had a really good percentage of potatoes in the 10-to 14-ounce range," Sutton said.
Sutton said a 50-pound carton of potatoes is running around $5 to $6 at the moment, a price where he will lose money on his crop. He said he would need about $9 to $10 in order to break even. He said he should be able to make a profit by storing potatoes and releasing them onto the market to best match demand.
Muir said a national advertising campaign for the Idaho potato will roll out soon, and the potato commission started a promotion this month with Country Crock that Muir said could help fix excessive supply following the harvest.
The commission will give a bag of potatoes to consumers who buy two tubs of Country Crock spread, Muir said, and then it will donate another bag to food banks.
"Consumers are still very strongly aligned with Idaho potatoes," he said.