GREEN GIANT™ FRESH POTATOES: February 2024 Crop Update


FEBRUARY 2024 POTATO CROP UPDATE
 FROM GREEN GIANT FRESH

Below is an overview of the 2023-24 Idaho potato growing and storage season to date for Green Giant Fresh, which will be shipped until August 2024, when the new season begins. We will provide crop updates throughout the season.

The 2023 Idaho planting season was delayed about 10 days to to persistent snow that refused to melt and a cold/wet spring. The delay and cold temperatures resulted in late emergence and slow initial plant development.

Summer growing conditions were almost ideal, with favorable temperature, ample sunlight, and little to no excessive heat. However, random and sporadic rainstorms, several of which dropped more than an inch of rainwater in the normally dry Idaho growing area stressed plants and affected tuber development in some areas.

As temperatures increased with the start of summer, isolated levels of elevated soil moisture and warm temperatures created favorable conditions for Hollow Heart development. The internal defect is cause by rapid, but uneven, tuber growth where the cells in the center of the potato can’t keep up with the outer parts of the potato. Over time, the potato becomes “hollow.” This defect is present this year, but is sporadic and does not exist in all regions or storages, or even with all growers or varieties.

Silver Scurf is an external defect that has shown itself in some storages this season. It is a common fungal disease in potatoes that expresses itself as a light silvery blotch on the potato. Some growing areas in Idaho were more wet than normal, and while not widespread, Silver Scurf made an appearance. The potatoes affected by the most severe cases of Silver Scurf are graded out during the grading/packing process to ensure the potatoes still make USDA grade.

Overall, harvest conditions were good, but there were periods of of cool temperatures and elevated moisture levels. These conditions can lead to less than ideal “skin set” and we have seen some “skinning,” or loose skins in the non-Russet varieties, including Reds, Golds, and Minis.

Shoulder Bruise and Pressure Bruise are always a concern, and they are randomly present again this season. These defects are the result of wet and cool harvest conditions combined with rough handling and sub-optimal storage practices. Overly saturated soil can lead to overhydration of the tubers. This makes the potato cells susceptible to rupture during harvest handling and storage, resulting in shoulder, pressure, and shatter bruise.

Pink Rot (or Water Rot) is a soil borne storage disease. It is most prevalent in wet growing conditions resulting from excessive rainfall and/or poorly drained soils. In these conditions, the soil borne pathogen population rapidly expands and can infect the underground parts of the plant. Some infected tubers will rot in the field. Others will be harvested and break down in storage. While some Idaho growing areas experienced wet conditions and we have seen some Pink Rot, this issue appears to be sporadic and not systematic. Overall, Pink Rot should be a minor issue this season.

Harvest yields were good and storage quality continues to be good at this point.

In general, the 2023-24 potato crop has been, and is expected, to continue to be good. As always, proper storage management and attentive grading are necessary to successfully ship the high-quality potatoes that Green Giant Fresh and Idaho are known for.