Klamath Basin Potato Harvest

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Fri, October 11 2013 at 4:26 PM, Updated: Fri, October 11 2013 at 4:58 PM

Harvest season is now in full swing on Klamath County's 17 million dollar potato crop...

Farmers were challenged this year with drought conditions, and a changing market.

Dan Chin of Wong Potatoes is encouraged by this year's harvest...

"It looks like we'll at least break even on this potato crop - and maybe make some money on it."

Chin says drought conditions were the biggest challenge faced this year by potato farmers...

"Between Greg Addington (Klamath Water Users Association) and the Bureau of Reclamation, Jason Phillips, his group, they worked hard to get us water."

Between the fields and packing sheds, Chin hires over 100 people during the harvest season.

Chin says that so far, the government shutdown isn't having much of an impact...

"We have enough government regulations as it is, and maybe a government shutdown will help us - reduce some of that regulation."

This year's crop is headed to markets on the east coast, and Asia.

Chin notes those markets are hungry for organically grown, and 'fancy' varieties...

"And have gone to more yellows, reds, purples, fingerlings."

But Chin stresses the basics still apply...

"First of all, it's got to look good.  Second of all, it's got to taste good.  Third of all, it's got to cook good."

Chin has now been in the potato industry for over 40 years...and it's what he's wanted to do, ever since he was a kid...

"I had the cowboy boots, and the cowboy hat, and I liked the dirt.  It's just a passion.  I like to do this."

Potatoes are grown on about 7000 acres in Klamath County.

The 76th annual Klamath Basin Potato Festival is coming up on the weekend of the 19th in Merrill...

Festivities include displays at the Merrill Civic Center, a parade, and a free barbecue lunch.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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