Potato storage technology hasn’t changed all that much in the past century. For the most part farmers drop their spuds in a simple four-walled building, set up a fan to keep everything aerated, and call it a day.
Jason Jones thinks he’s got a way to do spud storage better.
Jones, co-owner of Gary Jones Construction, knows potato cellars — he estimates his family’s company has built 180 or so since the 1950s. But, with the exception of a prototype, he’s never built anything like the ExactAir potato cellar. The two he has built are the only two in America.
About 50 farmers, some of them traveling from outside the Magic Valley, showed up at the 270,000-sack cellar Friday in Jerome to get a look at the new kind of spud storage. The facility began operating in October.
“There’s nothing like it,” Jones said. “(Farmers) want to see what’s different, what benefits it can offer and see if the higher cost can justify the benefits you get from it.”
Lamb Weston approached Jones with a question: How can we do potato storage differently? So Jones went to Europe, and discovered that across the pond, farmers spend more money up front to get a longer-lasting, energy-efficient potato cellar. He borrowed European concepts for his design.