By Robin Young | PREVIEW Columnist
It’s time to think about planting potatoes, and once again you can get certified seed potatoes from the Archuleta County Colorado State University (CSU) Extension office on May 10 and 11 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This year will be different than years past when our wonderful master gardeners have spent days sorting, weighing and bagging potatoes. This year, you will come in and talk to our master gardeners directly as they help you weigh and bag your potatoes. You will need to bring your own bag.
This year we will have a yellow variety — a high yielding, disease-resistant yellow potato; Rocky Mountain russet — a high yielding, disease-resistant russet variety; masquerade — a bi-color skin potato with yellow flesh described as “the most flavorful potato on the market”; jelly bean — fingerling type with red skin and yellow flesh and easy to grow; Jerry Garcia — a purple skin with white and purple flesh, this tie-dye potato is a fan favorite; Midnight Moon — purple skin with yellow flesh, this potato looks great in a medley blend or roasted as a side next to your favorite dish.
Colorado’s San Luis Valley is the second-largest fresh potato growing region in the U.S. for good reason. Situated at an elevation of 7,600 feet, nestled between the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountains, the valley enjoys mild temperatures and 350 days of sunshine a year. Part of an ancient lakebed, the fertile soil has been enriched by a unique mix of mineral deposits and is further enhanced by abundant annual snow melt. That is why more than 150 potato growing families have made the San Luis Valley their home for generations.
The best seed available is certified seed produced under carefully controlled isolation, disease control and storage. Buy certified seed every year because home-produced planting stock can become infected with disease in a single season. Infestation with diseases can result in a high-yielding crop the year before producing poor yields and low-quality tubers the following year.
Colorado potato fun facts
• Colorado is the second-largest fresh potato growing region in the entire United States.
• There are more than 70 unique varieties of Colorado potatoes.
• Many Colorado potatoes are grown in the San Luis Valley ,which is the largest alpine valley on earth.
• A total of 50,000 to 65,000 acres of potatoes are planted in Colorado each year. That’s around 78 square miles, or enough to cover all of Washington, D.C., (68 square miles) in potato fields and then some.
• Potatoes have been farmed in Colorado since 1875. In that year, Ulysses S. Grant was president and the very first recorded hockey game and Kentucky Derby happened.
• The estimated value of Colorado potatoes produced in 2014 was $214,802,000. That’s a stack of money that’s over 14 miles high. That’s more than two times as high as Mount Everest.
• An average of 7.5 million pounds of potatoes are produced in Colorado every day. That’s equivalent to 300 school buses (average school bus weighing 25,000 pounds). That’s approximately 2.3 billion pounds of potatoes every year, or 92,000 school buses.
To find out more information, please call the CSU Extension office at (970) 264-5931 or email coopext_archuleta@Mail.Colostate.edu.
May 6 — Weed Warrior Program presentations from 9 a.m. to noon at the Extension building. The Weed Warrior Program will cover an introduction to noxious weeds, their control and how to be a steward in your community. Please RSVP with Ethan Proud at email@example.com.
May 10 and 11 — Certified seed potato will be on sale for $2 per pound. This year we will not be taking orders; it is a first-come, first-served service. Please bring your own bag or box to take your seed home.
May 19 — Archuleta County Fair Board Dance, 5 to 9 p.m. at the Extension Exhibit Hall.
May 20 and June 1 — Cottage Foods certification online.
CPR and first aid classes
CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office, generally on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at (970) 246-5931 to register.