Potatoes

Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the value of Idaho's agricultural production was down six percent in 2016.

potatoes
Kris Krug / Flickr Creative Commons

Wildfire smoke challenged the state’s potato crop this year as hazy skies blunted direct sunlight this summer. According to the Twin Falls Times-News, farmers dealt with weather extremes on both ends of the spectrum. An unusually wet and snowy start to the year saturated the soil, forcing later planting days in the spring.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

Workers at a Twin Falls potato processing plant are claiming the company is trying to bust up a bid to join a local branch of the Teamsters Union next month.

Employees of Lamb-Weston, a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods based in Eagle that specializes in potato products, claim a so-called “union busting firm” has been hired to dissuade workers at a Twin Falls plant from joining Teamsters Local Union 483.

Pat Joyce / Flickr

Researchers at Idaho State University have programmed drones to be able to identify potatoes infected with a virus.

Researchers say they've been able to find individual plants infected with potato virus Y, commonly called PVY, with 90 percent accuracy using cameras mounted on drones, The Capital Press reported Friday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved commercial planting of two types of potatoes that are genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine.

The approval announced Friday covers Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co.'s Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties of the company's second generation of Innate potatoes.

The company says the potatoes will also have reduced bruising and black spots, enhanced storage capacity and a reduced amount of a chemical created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures that's a potential carcinogen.

Benjamin Nolan / Flickr Creative Commons

Despite Idaho’s “world famous” potatoes, the International Potato Center is actually in Lima, Peru. After all, that's the part of the world where the potato originated. The center has the largest potato gene bank, with the goal of conserving biological diversity of the plant.

The organization’s overall mission is a lofty one: to battle global poverty through partnerships and technology. 

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has denied a request by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to dismiss a lawsuit by eastern Idaho potato growers seeking to end a quarantine after the discovery of a microscopic pest that caused some countries to ban Idaho spuds.

But the U.S. District Court ruling earlier this month did dismiss Idaho officials from the lawsuit, noting state court was the proper venue concerning potential violations of state law.

Courtesy: J.R. Simplot Company

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a potato genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine and that still damages crops.

Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co. says that the Russet Burbank can also be stored at colder temperatures longer to reduce food waste.

The potato is the second generation of Simplot's Innate potatoes and also includes the first generation's reduced bruising and a greater reduction in a chemical produced at high temperatures that some studies have shown can cause cancer.

Courtesy: J.R. Simplot Company

Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Company is seeking federal approval to market a second genetically engineered potato.

Simplot won approval for its first modified potato late last year. The “Innate” potato, as it’s branded, is due to be the first genetically engineered spud on the market.

Simplot dubbed the genetically engineered potatoes “Innate” because the inserted genes come from other potatoes.

The first genetically modified crop wasn't made by a megacorporation. Or a college scientist trying to design a more durable tomato. Nope. Nature did it — at least 8,000 years ago.

Well, actually bacteria in the soil were the engineers. And the microbe's handiwork is present in sweet potatoes all around the world today.

A Western Oregon mail order company has begun selling what might become the No. 1 conversation starter of Northwest garden parties this summer.

Daniel Go / Flickr

An agreement has been reached to build a new $2 million fertilizer plant in American Falls.

The Idaho Statesman reports ConAgra Foods and Magnida also announced an agreement on groundwater Tuesday.

The two companies say arrangements for financing the new fertilizer plant have been in the works for more than six years. Construction on the new plant could begin in 2015.

Idaho Potato Commission

Northwest potato farmers are cheering a small provision tucked into the newly passed federal spending package.

The Women, Infants and Children or WIC program provides modest monthly vouchers for a variety of foods. They’ll cover any vegetable -- except “white potatoes.”

That single exclusion outraged the potato industry. They felt it sent the wrong message and Northwest lawmakers from both parties got on board to reverse the rule.

potatoes
thebittenword.com / Flickr Creative Commons

A set of lawsuits winding its way through federal court in Idaho combine a couple phrases you might not expect to find together: "massive international cartel" and "potato."

According to a group of grocers, the innocuous looking potato on your plate got there through a conspiracy involving price-fixing, coercion and aerial surveillance. But potato growers counter there is no cartel. Just a co-op.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Rows of potatoes stretch off toward the horizon where the South Boise Correctional Complex looms. Inmate Joe Molyneux sticks his hands into the dirt and comes up with two potatoes.

This is the fourth year that inmates have grown potatoes, corn and beans on state land near the prison. It’s Molyneux’s first year doing this and he wanted this assignment. 

“To watch these plants grow, and to watch the magic of it, you plant one little tiny seed potato and you get a big pile of them at the end of the year,” he says. “The whole point of it is to watch God’s handiwork.”

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