Water for the 2019 season is a concern for potato growers in Colorado's San Luis Valley. ( File photo )

San Luis Valley potato growers need Colorado to get more snow this coming winter than it got this past winter.

Jim Ehrlich, executive director for the Monte Vista-based Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said the cost of irrigation has increased significantly as the industry has taken measures in recent years to ensure the sustainable use of groundwater.

Snow melt was not as much of a help as growers would have liked, thanks to a hotter and drier winter than normal.

“You get credit for some of the surface water you have, but in a year like this where we didn’t have much surface water in the system, growers really didn’t get much credit for it, so it’s going to make their overall costs more expensive this year,” Ehrlich said.

Growers indicated more surface water will be crucial for the 2019 crop.

“If we don’t get some snow pack next year, you’ll see an impact,” said Les Alderete, general manager for Center, Colo.-based Skyline Potato Co.

“We had enough water for this year, but if we don’t get some winter, get some moisture, get some snow, next year will be a problem for water.”

Sheldon Rockey, partner for Center-based Rockey Farms, also said water will be an issue to keep an eye on for next season.

“That’ll be a concern if we don’t get a true winter and get some snow again,” Rockey said.