Tubers, taters, spuds. Whatever you choose to call them, they're in abundance at Johnson Potato Farms in Crystal Falls. â??This year was perfect and supported a lot of tubers,â?? said 82-year-old farmer, Melvin Johnson.
Itâ??s not easy work; itâ??s unpredictable, but Melvin said that's why he likes it. â??If the weather was the same every year, it'd be easy, but the weather is not the same every year. Some years you get dry springs, sometimes you get wet springs,â?? Johnson said.
The business has been harvesting spuds for over 50 years, and employees said it's very special to be able to work alongside family. â??The thing Iâ??ve always said about working with your family is that you get to know the entire person,â?? said employee Faith Kuzak. â??Thereâ??s the professional side of a person, then there's the fun side of them at home, and you get to know that whole person because you get to see them in both environments.â??
The farm has several warehouses where the potatoes are sorted and stored, practically floor-to-ceiling in a 40-degree environment. To harvest that many potatoes, however, they need a lot of land. â??We rotate 1,100 acres, but we have anywhere from 285-300 acres of potatoes depending on how the acreage of the fields end up. Itâ??s been a very good harvest; the weather has held up well for us so we get a high yield,â?? Kuzak said.
Every year, Johnson Potato Farms harvests in between 10 and 11 million pounds of potatoes; 80 percent is sold to other companies for seed, and 20 percent is what can be found in a local grocery store.