Klamath Basin potato harvest

Klamath Falls, Ore. – The potato harvest is in full swing in Klamath County.

Dan Chin of Wong Potatoes says the harvest looks good, despite drought conditions…

“It was hotter this year than normal.  But with the water we were allocated, we were able to make a nice crop.”

Wong Potatoes provides jobs for about 100 people.

A few miles down the road in Merrill, the Malin Potato Co-op has invested $7,000,000 in a new processing plant.

“We’re very proud of this facility.”  Notes manager Dave Cacka.  “It’s met our expectations for what we can do for sacks per hour, what we can do for quality.”

Water issues have had a big impact on the Klamath Basin potato industry over the past decade.

“I think everybody is doing a lot better, conservation-wise.”  Notes Dan Chin.  “To use the water, just what they need for the crop.”

The industry is also adjusting to changing markets, and demand for gourmet and specialty potatoes.

“It’s hard for us to compete with Washington and Idaho in the conventional market.”  Points out Dave Cacka.  “And we’re seeing more and more organics.”

But while the industry is changing, Dan Chin is optimistic about the future…

“Oh, yeah – I’ll be here raising potatoes.”

Merrill will host the 78th annual Klamath Basin Potato Festival on the 14th through the 17th.

The festival kicks into high gear on Saturday the 17th, with a parade down Main Street at 11:am, followed by a free barbecue at noon.

 

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