Idaho Potato Processing Contracts will make a minimum three-year rotation mandatory

A longer crop rotation saves on inputs such as nematicides or fumigation. Photo above shows the application of a nematicide at time of planting in the United Kingdom

Sources say the 2016 Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative contract will include new language mandating a minimum of two years of alternate crops between potatoes.

As of Feb. 15, SIPCO Executive Director Dan Hargraves said his organization had finished negotiations with Lamb Weston but not J.R. Simplot Co. or McCain Foods. He declined to comment on other contract details prior to completing talks with all three companies but said the minimum rotation clause has broad support and isn’t in question.

Hargraves said some spud growers, including a few Fort Hall producers who raise spuds every other year on sandy soils, have already fumigated fields and prepared ground, and the processors will grant them an exception from the policy this season.

Hargraves explained a longer rotation between spuds reduces the need for farm inputs, helps control pests and diseases and improves yields and quality.

“It was something that was whole-heartedly supported by both sides, and they understood there may need to be some exceptions as they work into it,” Hargraves said.

SIPCO President Mark Darrington, a Declo grower, doubts the policy will have a great impact on planted potato acreage, but he said a minimum three-year rotation is a “best management practice,” and annual audits required of processed growers will make certain guidelines are met.