Idaho – Early cold could lead to seed shortage

Just as I’ve been warning – Planting delayed in the spring, then harvesting hampered in the fall.

The early wave of low temperatures last week froze crops throughout Idaho, threatening onion and potato crops along with sweet corn seed and dry beans.

This is no small problem, because Treasure Valley produces over 60% of the world’s temperate sweet corn seed, and, along with eastern Oregon and the Magic Valley, about 95% of the world’s dry bean seed.

With last week’s uncharacteristically cold weather — lows in the 20s and low-30s — up to one fifth of the valley’s sweet corn seed and 15% of the dry bean seed could be lost.

“The world market may see a shortage of sweet corn,“ said George Crookham, CEO of Crookham Company in Caldwell, Idaho.

Canyon County is one of the top five seed production areas in the world, according to the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Seed Association.

Planting delayed in the spring, then harvesting hampered in the fall

Don Tolmie, production manager for Treasure Valley Seed Company, said dry beans were affected by the cold because planting started later this spring.

There were about 15 days of cold weather around the time dry beans are planted in May, said Tolmie. “That stopped us from planting anything until first 10 days of June.”

Because of the late planting, many beans were still in the ground waiting to mature last week, said Tolmie. If beans are not able to endure the cold, they will deteriorate in the pod.

Same with onions and potatoes

In Eastern Idaho, about 15% of the state’s potatoes were still in the ground when it froze last week, said Shawn Boyle, president and general counsel of the Idaho Grower Shippers Association.

Boyle said potato farmers also saw unseasonably cool temperatures this spring, and were behind schedule this year.

“We will be throwing away a lot of bad ones this year,” Boyle added.

“This is not typical and, in fact, most people would say the last time we had a situation like this was 1985,” Boyle said.

The Idaho Grower Shippers Association is seeking a disaster declaration.

Thanks to Dennis DeLaurier for this link

(Dennis is author of

6 thoughts on “Idaho – Early cold could lead to seed shortage”

  1. A great survival tip from ancient humans, 400,000 years ago: use animal long bones as stored food for up to 9 weeks.

    Archaeologists found that the ancient people in present day Israel were storing deer bones – specifically the metapodial foot long bones with skin still on. The scientists tested this with slaughtered deer and confirmed that these bones with skin still on could preserve the inner bone marrow in an edible and nutritious state for up to 9 weeks. The pattern of marks on the bones indicated that they had been consumed after storage – they were cut when the skin was already dry. So these ancients did not eat only hand to mouth but stored even meat for future consumption.

    Hot survival tip for when things get really bad.

  2. I now live in the Magic Valley and work for a major farm. There was a farm (not ours) along the freeway that had a HUGE pile of potatoes just sitting there due to not being able to get them out of the ground before the freeze a couple of weeks ago. Last week they were trucking them out to somewhere. I’d guess for feed. We got most of our potatoes out but there were some in Twin Falls area we weren’t able to get to. The ground there froze to 2″ down so some potatoes made and some didn’t depending how deep the potatoes were.

  3. A good story in the absolutely cretinous concept of creating all seeds in two or three small locations.

    Any idiot knows that every location is visited by seriously abnormal weather events every so often, so basic husbandry says you grow for seeds in as wide a variety of sites as possible. All over the globe….

    Why does the world trust that Idaho will never have abnormal weather? Or is it just Americans?

    Utter madness.

    UK seed potatoes are sourced from Scotland and Northern Ireland: no problems for us.

    My home made bush bean seeds were all harvested by the end of August, pole bean seeds by end of September. I suspect we will be fine in Europe with European seeds.

    • Adverse weather conditions which have battered Ireland for months has resulted in “serious” problems with the annual potato harvest and could lead to a national shortage, experts have warned.

  4. Aleta, glad to see another Magic Valley resident paying attention to this website..

    My cousin raises corn east of Jerome and he’s not feeling good about the state of his crop this year either..

    But it appears Sugar Beets might benefit.. I’m seeing them getting stacked up, and from what I understand, they want them to freeze and crystalize the sugars within them.

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