WIS FLOOD COULD COST GROWERS $65 M

Published online: Oct 06, 2010 Potato Storage, Potato Harvesting, Irrigation
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Officials began totaling the millions of dollars in crop damage and loss to central Wisconsin growers from recent flooding.

In Portage County, where more than half of Wisconsin's potato acreage is planted, losses to potato growers could rise as high as $65 million, said Jake Bourget, executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Portage and Wood counties.

Growers planted 30,000 acres of potatoes in Portage County this season, and the crop is already saturated because of the wet summer. He estimated the loss to potato growers just from the flooding from two weeks ago at $16 million to $20 million. When adding in the possibility of losses from a saturated crop that looks healthy but may be too wet to store and will end up rotting, the loss could be as much as $65 million.

"We were having problems because of moisture all year long and then this flooding hit," Bourget said. "A saturated potato is even further saturated-we're looking at 25 percent of what hasn't been harvested yet will be lost."

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