Higher Quantity and Quality of Potato Crops Compared to Last Year for US Aroostook County
Because of the less severe weather recorded during this summer, US Aroostook County potato growers are predicting a higher quantity and quality of this year’s crops than the ones produced in 2020.
“Potatoes don’t do much growing when it’s 32.2 degrees (Celsius) during the day and 21.1 at night, but we didn’t have a lot of that weather,” said Don Flannery, president of the Maine Potato Board, cited by BDN. “As long as temperatures remain average and rainfall consistent, the potato harvest should be on track to produce yields greater than last year’s.”
This summer, Aroostook County experienced an average rainfall of 8.8 inches (2.9 inches below average), compared with 6.1 inches in summer 2020, which was 5 inches below average.
According to Bee Chim, crop specialist and agronomist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, local farmers are hoping that September remains dry enough to not cause issues in the fields.
“When potatoes become wet, that causes storage issues and makes the crops more susceptible to diseases,” Chim said.
Up until now, potato crops have largely avoided diseases during this year’s growing season. Though blight was recorded in August for a small section of northern Aroostook, it did not spread to other areas, Maine University crops specialist Steve Johnson added, cited by the same publication. No other disease outbreaks have been detected.
July Saved the Day
Last year, severe drought conditions brought on by below-average rainfall throughout Aroostook County resulted in yields of 20% less than the 2019 crop. But despite days of record heat this summer, the overall weather pattern has been much more ideal for the growing season.
This past August saw a record amount of severe heat. There were 17 days of temperatures above 26.6 degrees Celsius and three days of temperatures of more than 32.2 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou.
But the cooler than average July, with the highest daily recorded temperature of 28.8 degrees, helped to keep the potato crops growing on schedule.