Agriculture: No Small Potatoes
By Kim L. Fritzemeier
KFRM Central Kansas Report
Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line
During harvest, it's not unusual to see a wheat truck parked at the local AmPride convenience store while the hot, wheat-dust-covered truck driver runs in for a cold pop.
The crop is grown almost entirely in the southern portion of the state in the Snake River Plain, and that's the area we were driving through on our way to Yellowstone. Idaho produces about 30 percent of the russet type potatoes grown in the U.S. Potatoes are the leading crop commodity in Idaho.On our travels through Idaho, we also saw cattle grazing. I didn't get a photo of the cattle, but we were also interested in the fencing. We saw some wooden fence that looked like a Lincoln Log building project.
In other fields, we saw fence posts spaced much more closely together than we use in our Kansas pastures. The difference? They need sturdy fences to hold up under the blankets of snow they get each winter.
In the Cascade area, many of the pastures were irrigated. The cattle were grazing in the fields, but it's only a summertime home. Just like the geese, the cattle have to move south for the winter. Of course, the ranchers will have to help in the bovine migration. But there's too much snow for ranchers to feed bales or silage and keep them in the mountain's valleys during the winter.
This was a hayfield in Wyoming outside a restaurant window as we ate breakfast on our way home. The green field filled with bales was a lot different from this summer's drought-stricken alfalfa fields of Kansas.
I'm guessing that not every traveler stopped along a country road for pictures of wheat and potatoes. Their loss. There's beauty and bounty everywhere ... if you just take time to look.
Respond to this Entry
Monday 15th of August 2011 03:15:02 PM
Submitted by: Gary
Ahhh, Kim, you're making me get a bit nostalgic. Oh, not for Idaho, but for Wisconsin, my home state. Traveling around the Badger state, you'll see logging trucks mainly in the northern wooded areas, and vegetable fields covering the middle part of the state. When I go back I'm amazed at how much logging still takes place as well as the many thousands of acres of vegetables. The central sands area of the middle of the state is the main region for potatoes, sweet corn, peas, snap beans, and cucumbers. The rich, black, organic soils primarily grow onions, carrots, lettuce, celery, as well as mint (spearmint and peppermint). Regarding Idaho, I have a friend who runs around 6,000 ewes in the eastern part of the state. You mentioned moving cattle, but my friend moves all of his ewes as well. He trucks them all to California for the winter for grazing on the alfalfa fields and lambing. In the spring, they are brought back to the high desert pasture, but for the summer, they are all trucked up into the high country where he has BLM use permits. Three times a year, his flock takes a long ride. Finally, regarding Kansas.....don't cut our state short. We also grow potatoes. Generally from Garden City south to the Oklahoma border there are several thousand acres of potatoes grown every year. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip.
Tuesday 16th of August 2011 07:56:34 AM
Submitted by: Kim
Take me home, country roads! I'm glad I could revive some fond memories for you of life in Wisconsin. It sounds like another great place for a beautiful road trip! We didn't see any sheep in the area we traveled through, probably because they were spending the summer in the high country. I guess I should have said that potatoes aren't part of the crop rotation at the County Line. I would never sell Kansas short: I feel blessed to live in the Wheat State. But it's great to see different parts of the country and discover what makes us America the Beautiful. Thanks for taking time to comment. I truly appreciate it!