Potatoes produced in Central Oregon are cultivated for seed potatoes, also known as tubers. Potato seed is grown primarily in Jefferson County, near Madras and Culver. The first known planting of potatoes in Oregon was in 1795, on an island in the Columbia River. That was followed by plantings at Fort Astoria and Fort Vancouver. Nearly 25% of all French fries exported from the U.S. come from Oregon, with potatoes accounting for more value-added production than any other crop grown in the state.

Potatoes are generally planted from late March to mid-June, depending upon the weather, elevation and soil moisture. The “seed potatoes” are cut into uniform pieces using a machine and are usually treated to help prevent infection and rot caused by bacteria and fungi. The cut pieces are planted. Prior to harvesting, irrigation is stopped and an herbicide is applied to kill the plant.

The potatoes are left in the field for approximately ten days to allow the skins to toughen, which prevents infection during storage. After the potatoes are mechanically dug up, they are stored in a climate controlled facility until they are planted. Harvest begins in July and can go through October, depending on the location and variety of potato.

2011 Acres Planted: 400
2011 Yield Per Acre: 32,000 Pounds
2011 Gross: $1,664,000



  • The Incas in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 200 B.C.
  • Although introduced to North America in 1621, they did not gain acceptance until Benjamin Franklin proclaimed the tubers as a superior vegetable.
  • French fries were first introduced when Thomas Jefferson served them at the White House.
  • The average American eats 134 pounds of potatoes per year, or over 365 potatoes per person, per year.
  • The potato is the second most consumed food in the U.S.—trailing only milk products.
  • Potatoes are the world’s fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat and maize.
  • Contrary to popular belief, potatoes are not high in calories. Once medium potato contains 110 calories, while one cup of rice has 225 calories and a cup of pasta has 155 calories.
  • In 1849, during the California Gold Rush, four bushels of Oregon potatoes sold for $500 in San Francisco, creating “gold” for the state’s farmers.

Jefferson County Seed Growers Association | website by chachkagroup