Frost Factor In Idaho, Alberta

Published online: Oct 24, 2002
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Frosts the week of Oct. 6-12 have damaged the potato crops in Idaho and in southern Alberta, Can.

In Idaho, an estimated 2-3 percent of the crop in the Upper Snake River Valley was hit. Damage is expected to be minor as temperatures dipped into the 20-degree F range.

In the Taber, AB, Can., area, extremely wet weather with a snow cover of one-to-two inches probably saved that area from devastation as temperatures dipped into the low 20-degree F range.

As of today, about 15 percent of the crop remains in the ground in southern Alberta. There is speculation that portion of the crop can’t successfully be harvested at this point.

Southern Alberta reportedly got five inches of rain in recent storms, not only delaying harvest but leaving ponds in fields. This delay in harvest has already resulted in processors shipping potatoes out of Washington state to keep plants running.

There are reports the frost in southern Alberta only nipped the “green ends,” potatoes near or above ground and that these can easily be sorted out. The danger is putting them in storage. The frozen potatoes will break down, introducing soft rot. Only good air circulation systems can stop the spread of damage.

The seed potato crop in northern Alberta has also been damaged, however not as much as that in southern Alberta. Northern Alberta was hit with heavy rains in July. Yields will be off an estimated 15-20 percent.