Published online: Aug 02, 2011
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Though it's still early in the season, officials with the USDA said last week that 2011 is shaping to be a strong year for Idaho crops and commodities. Furthermore, the outlook appears good for southeastearn Idaho's staple crops-potatoes, wheat and barley, said Tom Kurtz, deputy director for the Idaho field office of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

"It's going to definitely be better than what it was in 2009, and 2010 was better than 2009," Kurtz said. "I think in 2011, it's also got potential to be better what it was in 2010, but it's not finished yet. If you think about eastern Idaho, a lot of potatoes, wheat and barley are grown over there, and all three of those are expected to do well this year."

Kurtz cautioned that his office doesn't attempt to forecast prices. This season, growers planted 320,000 acres of potatoes, up 8 percent from 2010. The 295,000 acres planted in 2010 was the lowest potato acreage planted in Idaho since 1980, Kurtz said.

Kurtz explained the light crop last year has resulted in Idaho having about 25 percent less potato stock in storage as of June 1 compared with the previous year. This year's potato crop acreage is still slightly below average, Kurtz said.

According to the USDA's report issued for the week ending July 17, the yield for this year's potato crop is poised to be about average. The condition of the potatoes is also expected to be about average, though not quite as good as the exceptional quality of last year's crop.

"The crop itself got planted a little bit later than normal because of the wet spring," Kurtz said.

-Source, John O'Connell, Idaho State Journal