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Farmers look to peas as profitable alternative to potatoes

Farmers look to peas as profitable alternative to potatoes

RIRIE, Idaho - As potato prices plummet and many sell their crops for a loss, some farmers are planting peas instead.

"This is our first year planting peas. It's kind of an experiment for us," said Logan Hamilton, a Ririe farmer.

Hamilton planted around 110 acres of peas earlier this year – initially as a rotation crop.

"It's never good to plant the same thing over and over again every year. It's good to have different plants and different kinds of crops in your soils," said Hamilton.

Although Hamilton primarily grows barley, he also grows potatoes. As that crop decreases in value, he and other farmers are looking to peas as a more profitable alternative.

"We'll go where the profit takes us. If it's more profitable to plant peas than potatoes, I mean, it's a good crop rotation it seems like ... why not?" said Hamilton.

While peas are more commonly grown in northern and central Idaho, farmers say they aren't new to eastern Idaho.

"Back in the day they used to grow peas for Del Monte," said farmer Mitch Landon. "My understanding is that that market went away and that's why there's no longer peas grown here."

Landon said the eastern Idaho climate is perfect for growing peas.

"These peas are -- they're primarily a short-season crop that grows well in cool weather," said Landon.

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