As the Magic Valley prepares for potentially record setting heat this week, farmers, potato researchers and dairy scientists are all voicing concerns, reports Hannah Welzbacker for MagicValley.com. The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings locally from Monday through Thursday.
Nora Olsen, University of Idaho professor and extension potato specialist, said heat on top of longer days can be a lot for any crop, including potatoes. In high temperatures, potatoes will shut down and stop growing. This can cause situations of start and stop growth patterns that are not ideal for growing potatoes.
Another thing growers are worried about with the early heat is a lack of ground covering. Once potatoes grow they touch each other and this helps keep the soil cooler. Olsen said some areas have reached row closure and others have not.
Hot soil and hot temperatures can cause a disorder called “sugar ends.” “This is not a disorder we will see until harvest and when we make french fries out of them,” Olsen said. Affected potatoes will show higher sugar content and make darker-colored french fries. This leads to concerns over quality.
“We are like pulling our hair out right now trying to figure out how to irrigate the crop and to do it in a manner that both supplies water and tries to cool the crop down,” Olsen said.
Source: MagicValley.com. Read the full story here
Photo: In this Sept. 19, 2018 file photo, potatoes run down a conveyor belt at Brett Jensen Farms outside of Idaho Falls. John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP
Related: What is a heat dome?
Expert explains the ‘heat dome’ hovering above B.C., Alberta and territories