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.
Utah has a comparatively large acreage that is admirably adapted to the growing of potatoes. Both soil and climate are suited to the crop. Prof. L. A. Merrill, agronomist in charge of arid farms for the Experiment Station of the Utah Agricultural College, and Director of Agricultural Extension Work, furnishes the following information:
The average date of planting potatoes in this state varies from May 1st to 15th, and the average date of harvesting is from September 5th to October 1st, making the length of the growing season about four and one half months.
Potatoes require for their proper development a deep, rich, sandy loam. We have found that they do not thrive on a heavy clay or lumpy soil, neither do they do well on a rocky soil. We have in our state large areas of the very best type of soil for the production of potatoes. In 1910 Utah produced 2,432,000 bushels of potatoes on 16,000 acres, or an average of 152 bushels per acre.
Most of the potatoes in the state are grown in the following counties and I am giving them in their order of importance as potato-growing sections: Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Sevier, Weber, Morgan, Cache, Wasatch, Emery, San Pete, Boxelder. The seed is mostly home-grown and is as a rule not well selected. The main factor contributing most to the discouragement of the potato growers of this state is the lack of good seed. In this state this year we have a number of illustrations. On the farm of Mr. H. J. Cannon, West Jordan, Utah, recently I observed a field of homegrown side by side with potatoes grown in Colorado, and it was certainly an object lesson favorable to the imported seed.
The following varieties are grown: Eureka, Six Weeks, Early Roast, Early Ohio, Royal Duchess, Dalmeny Challenge, Russett, Peerless, Freeman, Twentieth Century, Uncle Sam, Sir Walter Raleigh, Hammond, Maggie Murphy, Peachblow, White Pearl, Majestic, Farmer.
As a rule the ground for potatoes is prepared by manuring it for winter, plowing it as soon as the land is ready in the spring, harrowing immediately after the plowing. When planting time comes the land is marked off with a marker and a furrow is made some four to eight inches deep with a shallow plow. In this furrow the seed is dropped; it is then covered with the regular plank or log leveler, and usually two harrowings are given the patch before the plant appears above the ground. The field is cultivated three or four times after the plants are up, the cultivation being done with a regular horse cultivator and with a small shovel plow. They are usually irrigated four times. During the first two irrigations which are given, one before blossoming and one just after blossoming time, the water is run in every other row, the second time running the water in the row alternately with the rows in which the water was run the first time. The last two irrigations are given as the plants show need of water. As a rule twenty acre inches of water are applied during the season.
In harvesting I have noted that those who are growing early potatoes use the centre-draft hand-plow and gather by hand to prevent peeling the thin-skinned tubers. In many localities regular machines for digging are used, and wherever used are giving entire satisfaction.
Potatoes are stored both in pits and cellars. Pits are made by digging a trench four feet wide and one foot deep and as long as necessary. The bottom of this is then covered with four inches of straw. The potatoes that are being stored are then placed in the pit and covered with about six inches of straw, about six inches of earth is then put on the straw, leaving ventilation holes about every eight feet. These ventilation holes should have an extra whisp of straw in them. A trench is now dug around the pit to insure good drainage. Where cellars are used care is taken that they shall be particularly well ventilated.
Utah potatoes last year were shipped to Cheyenne, Wyo.; Butte and Helena, Mont.; Denver and Pueblo, Col.; Topeka, Kan.; Kansas City, Mo.-Austin, Houston, and Galveston, Texas; San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles, Cal.;
Portland, Ore.; Spokane, Seattle, and Tacoma, Wash.
The potato fields in the state are usually small, ranging from one acre to about thirty. The average size field is about five acres. Around Smith-field the people rotate, planting sugar-beets one year and potatoes the next. This rotation can be practised only when the ground is well fertilized each year. In many places potatoes follow a leguminous crop, generally alfalfa; others have potatoes follow peas or beans, and still others have potatoes follow corn. Potatoes do best when they follow a leguminous crop.
Potatoes should receive more attention from the irrigation farmers of the state than they do. My opinion is that the potato is destined to become one of our leading crops and is bound to take its place in our permanent rotations for the land under the irrigation canals. We have the fertile soil, good climate, moisture control, and are fairly near to good markets, so that with the good quality which our properly grown potatoes have, the industry in Utah ought to grow and prosper."