Colorado Reader: SPUD-Tacular Colorado Potatoes 2022-2023: Issue 1 | Page 2

Potatoes Around the World

The potato was first grown by ancient tribes living in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia and Peru as early as 200 A . D . Archaeologists have found pictures of potato plants in designs on ancient pottery . The ancient people preserved the potatoes by trampling them and then drying them .
In 1532 , the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Peru and failed to see that the potato was far more important than the silver and gold that they took back to Spain with them . Though the potato was consumed by the ship ‘ s crew on the way back to Spain , it did not catch on right away once they got home . By 1570 , farmers were planting the crop on their farms , but mostly to feed their animals .
From Spain , the popularity of the potato spread to Italy and other
European countries by the late 1500s . By 1600 , the potato entered Belgium , Holland , France , Switzerland , England , Germany , Portugal , and Ireland . Most everyone refused to eat the potato , because they thought it was too UGLY ! It wasn ‘ t until the upper classes started eating them that they became popular . Then everyone began growing them .
In 1795 , the potato invaded England full force and became a part of the food source there . By 1850 , potatoes were a part of Russia ‘ s diet as well . All over Europe , England , and Ireland the potato had become a big part of everyone ‘ s diet . In Ireland , potatoes became a staple food for the people . In the 1840s , disease wiped out the potato crop in Ireland for two years in a row . Many Irish people moved to America then , because they had no food to eat .

Where in Colorado ?

When early pilgrims came to America , the potato came too . The potato has become a major part of the American diet . Today , potatoes are grown across the United States .
China produces more potatoes than any other country in the world . In the mountainous regions of northern China , potatoes are both a staple food and an important source of income for rural households . In neighboring India , potatoes are less of a rural staple , but they are an important cash crop , providing significant income for farmers . Indian farmers grow potatoes during the winter season when days are shorter . India , Russia , and Ukraine follow China in production , and the United States is the fifth largest producer of potatoes globally . The biggest potato-producing states are Idaho and Washington .
In Colorado , potatoes are primarily grown in the San Luis Valley in south central Colorado and in Weld County in northeast Colorado .
Colorado ’ s San Luis Valley is the second largest fresh potato growing region in the United States . The San Luis Valley is located between the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountains and has an elevation of 7,600 feet . The climate of the valley has mild temperatures and 350 days of sunshine per year . Once an ancient lake bed , the soil is very fertile . Snow melt from the mountains provides water to the region .
Weld County is a leader in agriculture production , growing many crops , including potatoes , due to its fertile soil and easy access to water to irrigate fields .
2 - Colorado Agriculture in the Classroom