Potato Harvest

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, October 17 2012 at 4:20 PM, Updated: Wed, October 17 2012 at 4:29 PM

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.

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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