Q&A: This Year's Harvest

Q:

What is the harvest like this year?

A:

The Idaho potato harvest starts up in the western side of the state first (usually they are the first to be able to get potatoes planted because of earlier spring weather and warmer conditions) and then moves across the bottom of the state to towns such as Gooding, Jerome, Twin Falls, Rupert, and Burley.  Next in timing are American Falls, Pocatello, Blackfoot, and then Idaho Falls.  Finally, the most northern places begin their harvest in Rigby, Rexburg, Sugar City, etc. 

From mid-August to mid-October the growers are busy harvesting potatoes, along with other crops, which they rotate growing in the same fields. I had the opportunity to see a couple of russet varieties harvested recently.  At Doug Gross Farms they were harvesting a Blazer Russet variety, which is relatively new, and is used right now exclusively for processing potatoes into fries and other frozen forms such as hash browns.  The potatoes looked great; Doug had leased land out by Lake Lowell and the yields were excellent.

Here are a couple of videos from that trip:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MJ6BsG3NpU

Next up was a trip with several culinary students to Simplot and a nearby farm at Highway 55, just off Chicken Dinner road.  Love that name!  The grower, Jerome Wanders, was harvesting the Ranger Russet variety, also for French fries.  Rangers are also sold into the fresh market and they make an excellent fresh cut French fry too.  Here is some additional information on the Simplot visit: The Simplot Top of House Culinary Board and the Idaho Potato Commission supported this ongoing quest for excellence by providing a Culinary Learning Experience beyond the school and workplace environment.

Five culinary students were selected to take an all expenses paid 4-day, 3-night trip to Boise, Idaho to learn about the diverse agriculture industry of Idaho, from our famous potatoes to the natural spring water that has allowed us to become the world’s largest trout producer. Students attended an Idaho Specialty Foods Showcase and Taste of Idaho, toured the Clear Springs Food Trout Farm, and explored onion and potato fields.  After the trip, these students will share their experiences with their fellow classmates by presenting what they learned in a multi-media presentation.  Our goal is that the learning experience never ends for culinary students and professional chefs alike.

The participating students were:

Here are some pictures of the tour:

Potatoes-in-Storage
Potatoes in storage

Conveyor-belt-with-potatoes
Conveyor belt with potatoes

Students-in-front-of-Tractor
Students in front of a tractor with Idaho potato grower Jerome Wanders Tractors

Tractors

And, if you’d like to see what a harvest is all about, be sure to go to our harvest video at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shs07rvWFYc

With all the talk about buying local and the whole Locavore movement it is important to share this video with readers too…it’s about the Idaho Potato grower: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYvA9wlWxAQ