Potato Grower

Potato Grower Annual 2016

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WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 9 "From the time I was 11 or 12 years old, I just had to be in the middle of it, especially at harvest," Hoff reminisces now. "I'd ride to wherever they were digging spuds or whatever cellar they were filling, just itching to do something. I couldn't wait to pull boards out of the trucks before we had self-unloading beds. I'd jump in with the truckers and unload their trucks." The Hoff family has farmed the same patch of ground south of Idaho Falls for well over a century; potatoes have been coming off their place since 1910. So it would be easy to say it's in James Hoff's blood. But in reviewing his life and career as a potato grower, and you begin to wonder if that might be true in a literal sense. James Hoff is every inch, every ounce, an Idaho potato grower, and his heart very well may be pumping that rich Bonneville County dirt through his veins. "I never saw myself doing anything else," he says. "This was always the plan. I had to work my way up—I've moved a lot of handline in my day—but I always wanted to be here, farming." Hoff farms about 1,100 acres, 250 of which are dedicated to that most Idahoan of crops: Russet Burbank potatoes. All of his potatoes go to the fresh market via nearby GPOD of Idaho. "I've played around with other varieties in the past," Hoff says, "but I never really got the yields I was looking for. But we could always grow Burbanks, so we've stuck with that." Burbanks have treated Hoff well, and he's always been eager and willing to return the favor and do what he can to help the Idaho potato industry. He came back to the farm full-time upon his graduation from Idaho State University, and it wasn't long before his father, Bob, was bringing him along to all the industry meetings. In his early 20s, Hoff got his first taste of industry leadership. "Dad had dragged me to a PGI (Potato Growers of Idaho) district meeting, back when PGI was really involved in processing negotiations," Hoff recalls. "Somebody raised his hand and said, 'We ought to get some of these young fellers involved. I nominate James Hoff to be district secretary/treasurer.' So there I was." James Hoff heads up the family's potato-growing operation on the same land his great-grandfather purchased and began farming in 1903. WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 9

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