Colorado's Weld County is still home to potato festivals and dotted with potato-growing artifacts, but the local potato industry has little to contribute anymore to the area’s vast legacy.
A shell of what it once was, Weld’s potato acreage took another hit this year as the last large-scale grower of the crop—Strohauer Farms in LaSalle, Colo.—plans to raise half of its potatoes outside of the state of Colorado, citing water issues as the reason for doing so.
The Potato Day Festival for about 25 years has been a staple of autumn activities in Greeley—a community where the potato is credited as being the first commercially viable crop locally grown.
But since 1987, Weld County has gone from growing 3,855 acres of potatoes on 66 farms to what’s expected to be about 550 acres this year, grown by just two growers.
Harry Strohauer—owner of Strohauer Farms, which grows nearly all of the remaining potatoes in Weld County—and others point the finger at water issues to explain why spuds production has decreased so sharply.
Strohauer said he’d rather keep his crops growing near LaSalle—the only place his family has farmed since coming here in the 1940s—than in New Mexico, where he’ll plant 500 of his 1,000 total potato acres this year.
SOURCE: Eric Brown, The Greeley Tribune