Potato Growers Keep Eyes On Spuds

The above average temperatures Wisconsin experienced this fall made the potato harvest a challenge.

For reference, last year, the harvest wrapped up Oct. 15. This year, the harvest wasn’t completed until Halloween at Alsum Farms & Produce. Beau Hartline, farm manager at Alsum, called it “brutal.” He explains that when the temperature is 70 degrees or higher, the spuds can’t handle cooling down to the desired 40 degrees in storage. The damage equates to a small percentage, but costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, Hartline says.

Alsum Farms & Produce stores about 70 percent of its potato crop to ensure a year-round supply for the grocery store. The first 30 percent goes to the store right away.

Aside from monitoring potatoes in storage, growers spend the winter maintaining equipment and learning about new spud varieties and pesticides. Hartline says the consumer is looking for a perfect looking potato, which is what they aim to produce.

Hartline says the target planting date for spuds in Wisconsin is April 15. Until then, he says enjoy Wisconsin potatoes in your meals.