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Spud planting underway

ROBERTS: North of Idaho Falls, it's the start of Idaho’s billion-dollar spud season.

At Mickelsen Farms outside of Roberts, it's planting time at last.

"We are on day 2 of planting here in the Osgood area. It's been a little cold but things are starting to get a bit better. It's been a rough start, it's taken until today to get all the planters going," said the farm manager.

That's farm manager Andrew Mickelsen and, to get to the planting part of the operation, he started cutting seed, months ago. Seed prep on Mickelson farm is a huge operation. They grow russet norkotahs, russet burbank, and chieftan potatoes all sold through the family business, Rigby Produce.  They also grow their own seed potatoes under the Yellowstone Seed brand.

"This year, though it's looking good, prices are not looking so good. Right now we are below break-even, So acres overall will probably be down this year, As of right now, the potato market is not great. It's not increasing a whole bunch. That's my outlook at this point. We hope it will get better. Farmers, we're eternal optimists!" said Mickelsen.

And this ‘better’ year is off to a slow start because of cold weather and snow.

"Temperatures have been a little low so we're a little bit delayed, normally we would have started planting about 4 days ago, but with cold temperatures, it has delayed us," added Mickelsen.

And then, there are market prices that every farmer thinks of when they plant.

"Other challenges this year that we are working through is that pricing in the fresh market is extremely low, low to break even. So we are hoping that it gets better, but right now it's not looking good so we are hopeful that things will get better, with better pricing," said Mickelsen.

With harvest in the fall and Covid lifting, Mickelsen Farms is planning on another Banner year.