Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Mark Ward was sweating this year’s potato crop during the summer’s heat waves, but he’s feeling better now that the Baker Valley’s rich soils are yielding their annual bounty of spuds.

“It’s a good crop,” Ward said this morning. “With all the hot weather we had it’s not as good as last year, but we’re sure liking it.”

Potato growers prefer warm, but not excessively hot, summers.

On the positive side of the weather ledger, though, the drought that has plagued Baker County the past four years ended thanks to a deep winter snowpack and damp spring.

Although some of Baker Valley’s eight potato growers have wells to supplement surface irrigation sources, Ward said his family’s farm, which has raised potatoes here every year since 1915, relies solely on water from Phillips Reservoir.

And that reservoir, on the Powder River about 17 miles southwest of Baker City, had more water this summer than any since 2011.

“That has been good, having adequate water,” Ward said.

See more in the Sept. 29, 2017, issue of the Baker City Herald.

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