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Wisconsin: 3rd-largest potato producer in U.S.

Alice in Dairyland: Alsum Farms and Produce grows 200 million pounds of potatoes every year.

January 24, 2024

3 Min Read
The team at Alsum Farms and Produce with Ashley Hagenow
POTATO HARVEST: The team at Alsum Farms and Produce poses with me for a photo after a tour where I learned about Wisconsin potatoes. Wisconsin DATCP

by Ashley Hagenow

The diversity of Wisconsin’s agriculture industry is one of our greatest strengths. Let’s “dig up” some interesting information about Wisconsin-grown potatoes!

Last fall, I headed over to Alsum Farms and Produce in Adams, Wis., for a tour. Alsum states its story started “five decades ago in a 600-square-foot potato shed, with one man, Glenn Alsum, one vision, and a work ethic framed by dedication and service.”

Alsum Farms and Produce now has 600 times the original storage and production space, and 325 times the employees. The farm produces 200 million pounds of potatoes every year.

The beginning of our tour started at Alsum Farms’ Adams storage facilities, where we saw how potatoes are handled after they have been harvested from the fields and what it takes to store them — ensuring year-round availability of fresh, high-quality potatoes. Though Alsum stores potatoes by the thousands instead of in 5-pound bags, the same concepts apply to preserve storage quality.

According to the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, you should always store potatoes in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place, but not too cold. You should never store them in your refrigerator, on your countertop, or in areas that get warm like next to the oven or under the sink. You should also keep your potatoes unwashed until you are ready to use them, as a wet potato will spoil quickly.

After the storage facilities, we headed over to “help out” with the harvest. Like a well-oiled machine, four tractors and a semitruck go through the field, harvesting in unison. As one semi fills with fresh potatoes, another one is close behind to take its place in line. Alsum’s fields are harvested each fall, and potatoes can be stored up until the following year’s harvest begins.

Wisconsin’s farmers grow six varieties of potatoes — russet, round white, round red, yellow flesh, blue and purple — providing consumers diverse choices for all their potato needs, even when shopping local. Wisconsin is the third-largest potato-producing state in the nation, behind Idaho and Washington.

Crowd-pleasing potato dish

This season, as parties and social gatherings turn toward watching sports, beating the winter blues and celebrating the upcoming spring, bringing a comforting dish to pass makes all the difference. My go-to option has been Cheesy Chili Stuffed Baby Red Potato Bites from the WPVGA. They provide a hearty and delicious option for any gathering.

After boiling baby red potatoes, I use a melon baller or little spoon to scoop out the inside of the potatoes, but I am careful not to get too close to the edges. Then I mix chili and cream cheese together, fill the potatoes with the mixture, top with shredded cheese, and bake until the cheese is melty. The perfectly crisped potato, gooey cheese and flavorful chili combine to make the perfect appetizer.

Not only are spuds delicious and versatile, but they are also loaded with nutrients. They are low in calories, high in fiber, and are a great source of vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants.

Potatoes are a delicious, family-favorite vegetable that not only taste good, but also are good for you. You can find new ways to enjoy potatoes and locate where to find Wisconsin-grown ones at eatwisconsinpotatoes.com.

Hagenow is the 76th Alice in Dairyland.

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