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Idaho Crops

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Potatoes


Idaho leads the nation in potato production – we produce nearly 1/3 of all U.S. potatoes. Our growers produce more than 100 million hundredweight of potatoes annually on more than 300,000 acres. Warm days, cool evenings, and fertile volcanic soils are ideal for tuber sets, producing a potato with a high solid count—the secret behind fluffy bakers and firm french fries. While the Russet is the most well-known of the Famous Idaho Potatoes, we grow more than 30 varieties, including Yukon Golds, Reds, and Fingerlings.

Wheat

Wheat is a very important and historic crop in Idaho. Nearly half of all Idaho wheat is sold to foreign markets, making it one of our top export products. Idaho is one of a few places in the world that successfully produces all five classes of wheat. Over half of the total wheat crop in Idaho is soft white wheat. Idaho wheat farmers have some of the highest yields per acre. In terms of revenue generated, wheat has consistently ranked as Idaho’s second largest crop behind potatoes. Idaho also is the largest grower of hard white wheat in the U.S.

Barley

Idaho is a top barley-producing state, growing both malting and feed varieties. More than 75% of total barley production is malt, with a vast majority being two-row for superior malting and brewing. A consistent supply of top-quality malting barley has attracted companies such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, InteGrow Malt, and Great Western Malting to locate in Idaho.

Hay

Idaho hay is known for its high-protein content, and is marketable for dairy and horse operations around the world. Idaho ranks first in the U.S. for production of certified organic hay, and is the second largest U.S. producer of alfalfa hay. Alfalfa constitutes more than 80% of Idaho’s total hay production, with over four million tons harvested annually. Idaho’s high elevations and arid climate create ideal drying conditions. Major alfalfa seed companies have facilities in Idaho and develop superior genetics tailored to Idaho’s climate.

Sugarbeets

Idaho ranks second nationally in the production of sugarbeets, providing 20% of total U.S. yields. Sugarbeets are traditionally Idaho’s fourth most valuable crop. Our 850+ sugarbeet farmers plant about 175,000 acres and harvest more than six million tons each year. Sugarbeets are grown primarily in irrigated areas of the Snake River Valley in southern Idaho and refined at plants in Paul, Twin Falls, and Nampa. Our plants produce granulated sugar, powdered sugar, liquid sucrose, brown sugar, and betaine. The Paul, Idaho plant is the largest sugarbeet factory in the U.S.

Seed

Idaho seeds are ranked the best in the world, and are shipped to more than 120 countries and every continent except Antarctica. Idaho grows 70% of the hybrid temperate sweet corn seed produced in the world. We’re a leading supplier of seeds for vegetables like carrot, onion, turnip, and lettuce, as well as for alfalfa and Kentucky bluegrass. Disease and insects are minimal here due to our high desert plains, cold winter temperatures, and stringent regulations. World-class seed companies operate in the Treasure Valley.

Onions

Idaho’s Treasure Valley along with Malheur County, Oregon together produce more than 25% of the nation’s yellow onions. Specifically, our farmers grow the Spanish Sweet variety whose mild flavor makes them a desirable ingredient for home cooks, food service, and manufacturers alike. The Idaho-Eastern Oregon production area is the only storage onion region in the U.S. governed by a federal marketing order (#958). The Federal Inspection Service conducts daily inspections to certify the onions meet grade, size, pack, and maturity requirements ensuring superior quality. In this area, more than 30 packing sheds store, pack, and market onions. Several regional processors produce whole peeled onions, individually quick frozen dices, and onion rings..

Oilseeds

One of Idaho’s fastest growing crops is oilseeds. Principal crops include canola, safflower, mustard, rapeseed, sunflower, and flax. Idaho ranks fourth in the nation for canola production. Flax seed and mustard seed are seeing explosive growth in health food sectors for their potential anticarcinogenic properties and omega-3 essential fatty acids. The University of Idaho’s nationally renowned Brassica Breeding and Research Program is providing the oilseed industry with important R&D contributions, including the development of superior cultivars suitable for a wide range of Idaho environments and a wide range of uses including industrial processing and biodiesel.

Peas and Lentils

Northern Idaho is the center of the nation’s dry pea and lentil harvest. The area’s innovative farming and quality-control methods contribute to these legumes’ consistent size and color, making them popular overseas for canning and packing. Demand is on the rise for Idaho’s pulse flours and starches for use in food processing because of their functional and nutritional benefits. Idaho’s 40,000 acres in chickpea production make it one of the nation’s top-producing states, helping to meet the demands of manufacturers of hummus and other snack foods.

Beans

Idaho’s seeds for dry edible beans and garden beans are considered the world’s best and most disease-free. Our success lies largely in our unique climate as well as our strict quality control measures. Idaho also produces dry edible beans that are consistently disease-free thanks to our arid climate and high-tech irrigation. The bright, light color of our edible pintos make them highly sought after in commercial markets.

Fruit

The apple is Idaho’s leading fruit crop, with production topping 60 million pounds a year. We grow commercial varieties like Red and Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, and Fuji. Production of new varieties, such as Pink Lady and Honey Crisp have seen tremendous gains as the market expands. Idaho fruit is primarily grown in our version of a banana belt, a cross section of southern Idaho that experiences an extended growing season. Cherries, apples, peaches, apricots, plums, pluots, and table grapes thrive here, where warm days and cool nights contribute to high sugar content. Idaho fruits are prized for their superior color and flavor.

Mint

Idaho is the nation’s third largest producer of mint. Idaho farmers have grown it commercially since the 1960s. The majority of acres planted are peppermint, although spearmint grows equally well in Idaho’s arid climate and rich soils. Our 17,000 acres of mint equate to more than 2 million pounds of mint oil. Idaho mint oil is sold on national and global markets and is added to a variety of products, including toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, confections, and pharmaceuticals.

Nursery

Nursery and greenhouse production is a top 10 Idaho crop sector. Field-grown nursery products account for 75% of nursery sales, with greenhouse receipts rounding out the balance. Our diverse output ranges from sod and bedding plants to shrubs and trees.

Wine

The Snake River American Viticultural Area (AVA) earned federal designation in 2007. Climate conditions are similar to AVAs in Washington’s Columbia Valley and elevations and latitudes are comparable to those of the high mountain deserts in Spain’s famed Rioja region. Idaho’s wine industry has exploded in the past decade, growing from 11 wineries in 2002 to more than 50 today. The Snake River AVA encompasses 8,000 square miles. More than 1,600 vineyard acres are producing both wine and table grapes; common varieties include Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Our long summer days and well-drained soils are key ingredients for growing grapes with exceptional, fruit-forward flavor and good structure. Idaho’s wine country and our growers are gaining national attention from wine enthusiasts, retailers, restaurateurs, and the media—including Sunset magazine, which heralded Idaho as “a wine region that has arrived.”

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