This section is from the book "The Potato: A Compilation of Information from Every Available Source", by Eugene H. Grubb, W. S. Guilford. Also available from Amazon: The Potato: A Compilation Of Information From Every Available Source.
Secretary, F. D. Coburn, of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture, most admirably sums up the potato situation in that state in "Report 91," as follows:
The potato is probably more generally grown and utilized than any other vegetable, and every county in the state, with the possible exception of six or eight in the southern and western portions, devotes greater or less acreage to its production. As many conditions within the state's 82,144 square miles of area are widely variant, yields likewise differ; thus the potato grows prosperously luxuriant in the rich, sandy loams of the formerly timbered river ' bottoms' and the upland prairie limestone soils, while flourishing in a more modest degree where altitude, longitude, soil and climate present conditions quite dissimilar yet no less suited to various other crops. However, regardless of adaptability, potatoes, as in the past, will doubtless continue to be grown on practically every farm and in every considerable garden; consequently yields per acre for the state may seem to average low, comparatively; but in the real potato districts in the more favoring seasons returns of over 400 bushels per acre are realized, and an output of 300 bushels or more is not at all uncommon.
The portion of the state proved most admirably adapted to potatoes as a commercial crop is known as the Kaw Valley potato district, in eastern Kansas, where large quantities are grown and shipped each year. In the main, this consists of sandy loam 'bottom' land, two to six miles wide, adjacent to the Kaw or Kansas river, in the counties of Wyandotte, Johnson, Leavenworth, Douglas, Jefferson, Shawnee, Pottawatomie, and Wabaunsee, and extending westward 100 miles from its joining with the Missouri at Kansas City. Of the total Kansas area planted to Irish potatoes in recent years more than one fourth is in these eight counties, Wyandotte ordinarily leading in acres and production. Nearly a third of the state's crop, or practically all potatoes raised in Kansas for export, is frequently the product of the counties named.
Early varieties for summer marketing are planted mostly, and of these the Early Ohio is by all odds the favorite, followed to a small extent by the Early Rose and Triumph, as named. The small proportion of late sorts planted are the Bur-bank and Peachblow. Even for winter use the early varieties are grown, and left undisturbed in the ground until fall. While some home-grown stock is planted, Northern-grown seed is found best, and each year thousands of bushels are shipped in by planters and dealers, who buy from Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, in the Red River Valley.
Kaw Valley potatoes find their market in all parts of the country; early in the season Chicago and northern points claim many, and some go in the direction of New York and Pittsburg, but probably the bulk are sent south and southwest, especially to Texas, and preferably sold at digging-time.
The consensus of opinion of Kaw Valley growers reporting suggests that they consider in the neighborhood of 37 cents a bushel a fair price for potatoes on board the cars, and the range in the past ten years has been from about 14 cents to $1.15 per bushel.
Two striking features of Kansas potato growing as compared with that in other states surpassing her in aggregate yields are absence of need for expensive fertilizers and freedom from insects and fungous diseases. Of the Kansans reporting, none mention using commercial fertilizers, although the majority apply more or less manure, or sow some crop such as cow peas or turnips for plowing under when green, thereby enriching the land and increasing its subsequent yields.
A most interesting and suggestive fact is the possibility of profitably irrigating, in the more western counties, small areas for potatoes, and other vegetables as well, where underground waters are made available by wind or other power. Several correspondents have realized gratifying success by such means. By it the home demand in such territory may not only be supplied with certainty each year, but the markets of nearby cities and towns would offer for any surplus attractive inducements in prices, usually quite in excess of those realized by growers elsewhere.
The foregoing pertains to Irish potatoes exclusively, but sweet potatoes are likewise grown more or less in about four fifths of the counties, most extensively and successfully, however, in the valleys of the Kansas and Arkansas rivers. The six counties of Pottawatomie, Riley, Wabaunsee, Shawnee, Wyandotte, and Sedgwick yield annually about one half or more of the state's output, which in the past twenty years has varied from 779,783 bushels in 1889 to 212,468 bushels in 1897."
The cost of growing potatoes in these districts is found in Chapter XIII (Cost Of Growing Potatoes - Yield - Prices - Profits).