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Highway signs highlight Canyon County crop diversity

Crop signs in Canyon County

Darrell Bolz explains why the agriculture community posts signs identifying crops in Canyon County.
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Darrell Bolz explains why the agriculture community posts signs identifying crops in Canyon County.

If you can’t discern between a field of potatoes or sugar beets, or if you don’t know the difference between sweet corn grown for feed versus corn grown for seed, keep an eye out for signs identifying crops on Canyon County thoroughfares.

For decades, the Nampa and Caldwell chambers of commerce have teamed up to post around 100 white signs near fields identifying the crops growing there.

Darrell Bolz, a former Idaho lawmaker and current member of the Caldwell/Nampa Agri-Business Committee, said the chambers started the crop sign campaign after receiving calls from travelers asking what crops they were spotting.

“We wanted to inform people what crops were growing out there,” Bolz said. “Canyon County has among the most crop diversity in the country, and a lot of people have no clue they are even being grown here.”

The Statesman on July 4 published a Lewiston Tribune story about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Services Agency posting signs identifying crops near Lewiston. That prompted Bolz to write to the Statesman about the Canyon County program.

The Nampa and Caldwell chambers started posting their signs about 30 years ago, Bolz said, replacing them each year. The signs have cost between $400 and $600 annually in recent years, he said.

Most of the Canyon County signs are small and stand less than 2 feet off the ground on the side of highways. Bolz said he wishes the signs could do more to teach passers-by about crops, such as the difference between peppermint and spearmint.

“You can’t put an awful lot of information on the sign, because somebody going by at 55 miles per hour can’t see it,” Bolz said. “But hopefully we get people to think a little bit about it and maybe do some research on it.”

Zach Kyle: 208-377-6464, @IDS_ZachKyle

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