2017 Western Seed Crop Reports


Montana Seed Potato Crop

By Nina Zidack, Montana Seed Potato Certification


This year was an illustration that nothing is ever normal when it comes to describing an individual growing season. The spring was cool and wet, and the transition to summer was hard and fast. Temperatures were above average with very little precipitation. Thankfully, plant establishment was excellent in June, and rows closed for most growers before the hot weather took hold in early July. Water was plentiful from adequate snowpack, and plant stress was kept to a minimum.

The hot, dry weather continued into mid-September but then took a drastic turn with rain and temperatures in the 40s. The wet weather delayed the start of harvest about a week for most growers. Harvest started in earnest the last week of September, and as of Oct. 6, some growers have completed harvest and most will be finished within a week. While we have had some frost, it appears to be very minor. Taking the hot weather during the growing season into consideration, Montana seed potato growers are very pleased with the overall quality of the tubers and the size profile.

Montana seed potato acreage is 10,220 acres, which represents a minor reduction when compared to 10,398 acres in 2016. While Russet Burbank is still the dominant variety at 3,883 acres, this is an 11 percent decrease from 2016. The 489 acres of Russet Burbank that were lost were largely replaced by Clearwater Russet, which saw an increase from 353 to 698 acres, nearly double the acreage in 2016.

Teton Russet also saw a dramatic increase from 91 to 194 acres. Umatilla Russet is the second most widely produced variety in Montana and was up 110 acres to 1,789. Ranger Russet and the Russet Norkotah selections were both down 2 percent to 1,122 and 1,100 acres, respectively. Alturas was down 13 percent to 637 acres. Shepody, while still a minor variety, increased 40 percent to 106 acres. In total, there are 54 varieties of potatoes registered for certification.



Washington Seed Potato Crop

By Jeff Bedlington, Washington State Seed Potato Commission


The 2017 Washington seed potato growing season is nearly in the books, producing average yields of superior quality seed potatoes. Unlike the early start to the 2016 growing season, 2017 began with a wet spring that brought its share of challenges during the planting season, delaying planting by roughly 10 days. After a damp start, the weather broke near the end of the planting season to produce ideal growing conditions that, when paired with a busy irrigation season, brought average to above average yields with a desirable size profile.

Furthermore, disease, blight and insect pressure was minimal, which produced excellent quality seed stock for the 2018 growing season. Entering the harvest season, timely rains produced ideal soil moisture levels, allowing for optimal digging and storage conditions.

Overall, Washington seed production acreage increased 120 acres over last year, with more than 3,500 acres of seed grown for certification. The majority of these acres were grown in the seed potato isolation district in the far northwestern corner of the state.

More information on Washington seed potatoes can be found on the Washington State Seed Potato Commission website at www.waseedpotato.com. Official inspection reports are available on the WSDA website at www.agr.wa.gov/PlantsInsects/PlantCertification/CertPrograms/SeedPotatoCertification.aspx.



Oregon Seed Potato Crop

By Jeff McMorran, Oregon Seed Certification Service


Planting and harvesting conditions were near ideal in most of Oregon’s seed potato production areas this year despite some much needed rain in mid-September slowing down harvest a bit in some areas.  However, 2017 will be remembered as a very hot, dry and smoky summer. Widespread wildfires in the state made access to, and reading of, many fields a challenge. Traffic congestion related to the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 didn’t help in that regard, making it necessary to move up the second inspections a bit in some areas. So far, there is no evidence that the many smoky days adversely affected the seed crop

Oregon had 3,181 acres of seed potatoes entered for certification in 2017, with 3,146 accepted for re-certification based on field readings, an increase of about 200 acres over 2016. The 35 acres that were not accepted were due to seed source eligibility or variety issues (e.g. lack of grower approval on proprietary varieties), not mosaic or other disease found during field inspections. However, harvest inspections were just beginning at the time of this writing, and final certification is dependent on winter grow-out readings.

There continues to be a shift in acreage to the northern areas of the state with increases in the Gilliam/Morrow County area and two new organic seed growers in eastern Oregon’s Baker County. Though Oregon certified 57 acres in northern California this year, Nevada will now be certifying the single farm near Winnemucca that has been inspected by Oregon the last four years.

We have also seen a continued shift in varieties produced, moving away from processing-type to more of the fresh market and specialty varieties. Fresh market types now make up 35 of the 51 varieties certified this year but still only account for 42 percent of the production acres.

For more information on acres or varieties produced in Oregon, see the 2017 Field Readings and Statistics booklet at www.seedcert.oregonstate.edu/potatoes.



Idaho Seed Potato Crop

By Alan Westra, Idaho Crop Improvement Association


At the conclusion of the second round of field inspections, a total of 32,587 acres were accepted for certification this year. This is down approximately 2.2 percent from last year. Excluding proprietary genetics, the 2017 acreage accepted for certification represents a total of 148 varieties, selections and advanced clones.

There was some movement in varietal acreage in 2017. The top varieties were Russet Burbank (39 percent of total), Russet Norkotah (all strains, 17 percent), Ranger Russet (11 percent), Clearwater Russet (3.1 percent), Alturas (2.8 percent) and Umatilla Russet (2.85 percent). Acreage of Russet Burbank and Russet Norkotah is essentially unchanged from last year. There is a significant increase in the acreage of Clearwater Russet (up 42 percent over 2016), while acreage of Ranger Russet, Alturas and Umatilla Russet is reduced significantly (down 7.5, 30 and 28 percent, respectively).

A complete listing of this year’s seed potato crop is available in the 2017 Idaho Certified Seed Potato Directory, posted on the Idaho Crop Improvement website at www.idahocrop.com.

Planting this year was normal for many growers with only minor delays due to weather. At the time of writing this report, harvest is slowed due to rain. Growers are reporting normal to very good yields. Quality going into storage is reported as good to excellent. Seed health appears to be steady from 2016, with normal amounts of Potato Virus Y and zero bacterial ring rot detections during field inspections. Seed availability is predicted to be essentially unchanged from 2016.



Colorado Seed Potato Crop

By Andrew Houser, Colorado Potato Certification Service


In 2017, warm temperatures in June were followed by a record-setting 3.3 inches of rainfall in the month of July. The excess rainfall has not appeared to affect tuber quality, however. Hailstorms were limited, but impacted yields of affected fields.

Certified seed growers began vine killing in late July and early August, sacrificing yields, but limiting potential spread of virus by aphids. As of Oct. 1, roughly half of the potato acreage has been harvested in Colorado. Overall yields and sizing have been hovering around average. Certified seed growers are in the process of submitting seed lot samples for the post-harvest test which takes place at the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

Colorado certified seed potato acreage was down overall from 11,339 acres in 2016 to 10,093 in 2017. Total potato acreage in the San Luis Valley, including the seed crop, was 51,848 acres, up 946 acres from 2016. The total accepted certified acreage after summer field inspections was 9,713 acres. Rejections were primarily the result of Potato Virus Y/mosaic, with a few rejections caused by blackleg and variety mix. The predominant certified potato varieties in Colorado are Russet Norkotah selections, Canela Russet, Centennial Russet, Teton Russet and Rio Grande Russet. Multiple varieties of other russets, reds, yellows, chippers, fingerlings and specialties are also certified in Colorado.

A 2017 certified seed directory is posted online at http://potatoes.colostate.edu/potato-certification-service.

The Colorado Seed Act requires all seed lots imported into Colorado to undergo a post-harvest test or winter grow-out. Seed growers intending to ship into Colorado should contact their certifying agency for submitting samples for post-harvest testing. Also, there is a late blight quarantine in effect for all seed coming into the San Luis Valley. Anyone planning to ship seed into the valley needs to have this test conducted by a qualified lab prior to shipment. For details, visit http://potatoes.colostate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Late-Blight-Quar-2014.pdf.