The minimum size requirements for Irish potatoes grown in Colorado have increased slightly, following a relaxation of rules during the 2008-09 season.

A final rule, effective under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, was implemented Jan. 22 to adjust the minimum size requirement for Irish potatoes grown in Area No. 2. The Colorado potato marketing order, overseen by the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, now requires a minimum size of 2 inches in diameter or 4 ounces in weight for all potato varieties, except round varieties.

The rule for the 2008-09 season required a size of 1 7/8 inches in diameter. Crops that year were damaged by severe weather. The return to the 2-inch minimum was recommended by the committee in June 2009.

The committee’s recommendation said it expected the change to increase growers’ returns and provide a larger percentage of good-quality potatoes to the market. Many customers already were demanding potatoes of 2 inches or greater.

“I think it puts a better quality product in the consumer’s pack,” said Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the Monte Vista-based committee. “That’s the intent. We want to emphasize quality to sell more potatoes.”

He said the rule should mean sizes of bagged potatoes are more consistent.

The marketing order divides Colorado into three areas. Area No. 2, where the rule change applies, is the San Luis Valley, including Archuleta, Huerfano, Las Animas, Mineral and Sanguache counties and all counties south of those. There are about 70 handlers and 175 producers of potatoes in Area No. 2.