The sudden resurgence of fresh potato popularity with consumers that was fueled by COVID-19 almost 18 months ago does not show any sign of slowing down soon. Scott Schuette writes in an Opinion piece for The Packer that with more than 2 million new customers purchasing potatoes during 2020, according to the Idaho Potato Commission, it is easy to see how the positive momentum and power of the Idaho potato will continue to remain strong throughout the remainder of 2021 and all of 2022.
Schuette reports that as for yield estimates of this year’s Idaho crop, the harvest is showing mixed results from region to region. Growers farming the western regions of the state endured much warmer weather that was often shadowed by smoke-covered skies. (Much of the forest fire smoke from lower states drifted over the western growing regions, causing less sunlight than is needed for potato growth).
Growers from eastern regions of Idaho are reporting better yield results that should measure up to the volume and tonnage of 2020. Total Idaho crop tonnage is down from 2020 due to the adverse summer growing conditions.
Says Schuette: “I was truly amazed to see how technology advancements are improving the overall quality of potatoes being harvested. Not too many years ago, potato sizing, shape, color and density were all physically graded by human hands and eyes. Today, high-definition cameras wired directly into computers using artificial intelligence algorithms help farmers grade potatoes for superior quality.”