Cultivation/Production, North America, Weather/Climate

Wet, cold soil makes Idaho potato planting a challenge

Frequent heavy rains continue to challenge some Idaho potato growers as they plant the state’s iconic crop, according to a report by Capital Press.

“Around here, it is behind around a week,” Brett Jensen, who farms in the Idaho Falls-Hamer, said April 8. “Right now, the soil temperatures are still really cold, and we are supposed to have rain and snow this week. So we are definitely behind around here.”

Jeff Gibson, who farms near Paul in the state’s south-central region, started planting April 8 but was stalled by weather the next day. “We can’t go today because of the downpour here right now,” he said early April 9. “It’s just a very wet spring. It’s muddy, and you can’t get into the fields.”

Planting in the south-central region is on schedule in comparison to the average year, Gibson said. “It’s about the usual timing. It’s just what the weather will let us do from here on out.”

Seed should be planted when soil temperatures are at least 48 degrees, said John Taberna, soil scientist and owner at Western Laboratories in Parma. Colder soils increase the risk of seed rot, and of poor stands post-emergence. Potato seed is strong, producing a hearty stem equipped to break through soil crust effectively.

Read the full report in Capital Press

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