The Klamath Basin potato harvest is now in full swing.
The sorting lines are busy at Wong Potatoes...Owner Dan Chin says he's pleased with this year's crop. "I think that overall, I would say an average, to a little bit above average crop."
While potatoes are a big crop in the Klamath Basin, they were an even bigger crop not all that long ago.
Back in the late 1970's, there were thirty potato sheds in the Klamath Basin, processing potatoes grown on nearly 30,000 acres. Today, there are only four packing sheds, processing potatoes grown on about 7,000 acres.
Chin says that unstable market prices took the biggest toll...
"Too many down prices is probably why growers really weren't making any money on potatoes. So, they really quit growing potatoes."
Chin says that offering more options to the consumer has helped to keep the industry viable. "Our company went from raising just russets to raising 17 different varieties of potatoes."
The potatoes are headed everywhere from the west coast, to Asian markets. The harvest is also helping to feed the more than 100 workers employed by Wong Potatoes during the busy harvest season.
Potatoes are Oregon's seventh largest agricultural commodity, with a value of about 180 million dollars last year.
Klamath is Oregon's third top producer of potatoes, ranking behind Morrow and Umatilla counties.