R.D. Offutt Farms potato harvest underway

Community potato field days start this weekend.

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Jonathan Robbins, left, Heather Robinson, Alex Wachlin and Charlie Wachlin examine potatoes from a recent test dig as an indicator of upcoming yield during harvest.
Contributed photo
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WADENA — With the hot days of summer (mostly) behind us, the R.D. Offutt Wadena Farm team kicked off this year’s harvest on Monday and is looking forward to hosting its eighth annual Potato Field Days for local community members.
Charlie Wachlin, RDO’s Wadena farm manager, said the potato crop is looking healthy this year. Wachlin and his team have been watching the plants closely, as the crop had a delayed start due to weather, according to an RDO news release.

“Despite a later than normal planting timeframe and some early severe storms that damaged equipment, we are encouraged by what we are finding through test digs,” Wachlin said. “There has been no crop loss and the potatoes are looking pretty good.”

For the second year in a row, the RDO Wadena Farm Team won Lamb Weston’s grower of the year award, given at a ceremony in late August. Lamb Weston, potato processor based in Park Rapids, evaluates farms by production of the best potato quality attributes, measured by overall crop, storability and color.

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Those recognized for the Farm Team of the Year recognition include Shawn Raykovich (Lamb Weston, Plant Manager), left, Mark Riepe, Jonathan Robbins, Adam Templin, Charlie Wachlin (RDO Wadena Farm Team Members), Darwin Lake (Lamb Weston Agriculture Manager).
Contributed photo

Shawn Raykovich, Lamb Weston Plant Manager, said he appreciates the quality crop that RDO Farms delivers year-round, noting these locally grown potatoes are processed into french fries and other products to be used at restaurants and sold at retail locations in central Minnesota and across the state, the Midwest and beyond.

“The high-quality potatoes we receive from the Wadena farm, and all the RDO farms, help us to provide a stable food supply in our region and country,” Raykovich said. “We are proud to work closely with farms like Charlie’s (Wachlin) that invest in sustainable farming practices to grow a consistent crop.”


Wachlin said the farm team has been increasing its usage of organic fertilizer to fortify the soil with natural nutrients, and planting as many cover crops as possible to reduce erosion.

He added, “we are fortunate to work with neighboring farmers to rotate our crop, only growing potatoes on a field once every four years, which creates good soil health for everyone in our area.”

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Signs lead the way to the annual potato digs outside Wadena.
Contributed photo

Eighth Annual Potato Field Days

The RDO Wadena farm team is hosting its Eighth Annual Potato Field Days, inviting fellow neighbors and members of the community to an “all-you-can-dig party.” Due to turnout at previous years, RDO is opening the field on two consecutive weekends.

On September 16-18 and September 23-25, from sunrise till sunset, those interested can bring potato forks and buckets and dig to their heart’s content. This year, Wadena County 4-H’ers will be at the field on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9–11 a.m. and Sunday, Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. to help fill potato buckets.

“We are excited to welcome everyone back to dig potatoes,” Wachlin said. “Our Potato Field Days have been wildly popular, and our phone has been ringing off the hook with people asking when the event will be.”

Directions: From the Hwy 71/Hwy 29 Intersection in Wadena, take Hwy 71 south for 3 miles. Take a left on County Road 104 for ½ mile. Take a right onto County Rd 100. Signs will be posted.

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