Idaho farmers rally to harvest a neighbor’s potatoes before deep freeze ruins them

With meteorologists predicting a hard freeze in southeast Idaho for Wednesday, farmers rushed to harvest all their potatoes before the surprise cold snap ruined them.

One farmer in Hamer, Idaho, about 30 miles north of Idaho Falls, wasn’t able to take in all his crop in time.

So other farmers sent their workers, and “a ton of members of the community” came to help save his crop, Jason Larson told CNN.

Larson, who works on a nearby farm, said his farm sent about 25 employees to help. The convoy of trucks included nine harvesters and he estimated that 50 people in total showed up.

He posted a video showing a convoy of trucks heading to the farm with snow swirling in the air.

Many of those who showed up had been up until midnight the night before clearing up their own fields. Starting at 11 a.m., Larson said the emergency harvest was complete by about 8 p.m. that night.

He estimated they saved several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of potatoes.

“What people do is they help their neighbor,” Larson said. “There really wasn’t a second thought about it.”

Potatoes across the state were threatened

On Tuesday CNN affiliate KIFI reported that farmers throughout the Idaho Falls area were rushing to harvest potatoes before the frigid air temperatures penetrated deep into the soil.

Farmer Brook Bybee told KIFI that his team had been working 16-18 hours a day to get all the spuds out of the ground.

Producing 32% of American potatoes, Idaho is the nation’s leading producer of potatoes, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

An estimated 15-20% of Idaho’s potatoes were still in the ground Wednesday, Travis Blacker, the director of industry relations for the Idaho Potato Commission told the Idaho Statesman.

That deep freeze risk is unusual, Larson said. Asking around town, he said people told him there hadn’t been a deep freeze this early in the season since 1985.

But at least in the case of the convoy he caught on video, some of that crisis was averted.

“This is a story about helping your neighbors,” he said. “This kind of thing goes on every day across America.”

 

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