Which US State Produces The Most Potatoes?

French fries. Mashed potatoes. Baked potatoes. Potato salad. Chips. Hashbrowns. Practically every American meal comes with a side of potato.

Not surprisingly, potatoes remain the top vegetable crop in the United States. According to Agriculture Marketing Resource Center, a total of 1 million acres of potatoes were harvested from 30 states in 2020. It's not just Americans who love their tubular potatoes, either. According to the International Potato Center, the potato is one of the most important crops in the world, only following rice and wheat. The organization estimates that over 1 billion people across the globe rely on the potato for food, with more than 300 million metric tons of potatoes harvested each year to meet the world's demand. Culinary Choice figures that an average person eats potatoes once or more per week, consuming 75 to 200 pounds of the starchy vegetable annually. 

While potatoes have become a popular food around the planet, they originated in South America. In fact, Agriculture Marketing Research Center says there are more than 4,000 kinds of native potatoes, and they are primarily found in the Andes. Potatoes were transported to other countries by early explorers and were introduced to North America in 1691, where their popularity exploded over time.

The potato state

Idaho is known for its potatoes for good reason — it produces the most of any state in the U.S., according to the Agriculture Marketing Resource Center. The Idaho State Department of Agriculture reports that the state cultivates one-third of the potatoes grown in the United States on more than 300,000 acres. 

Farmers grow more than 30 kinds of potatoes in Idaho, with Russet, Yukon Gold, Red, and Fingerlings being the best known, according to the department. It's Idaho's land and weather that make it a great place for the vegetable to grow. Idahoan says the state offers three important things for the potato to do well: climate, water, and soil. The elevation on the eastern side of the state where potatoes are primarily grown is between 4,500 feet and 5,000 feet, with summer temperatures ranging from in the 40s during the night to 80s during the day. Idaho also has plenty of water to offer the potatoes, and the light soil is ideal for potato crops, according to the Idahoan. 

Next time you put a dollop of sour cream on your baked potato or dip your fry in ketchup, the odds are pretty good the vegetable came from Idaho.