With 99 percent of this year's approximately 56,000 acres of potatoes harvested, Aroostook County potato growers are watching the stored product to gauge the effect of massive amounts of rainfall this past summer.
Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board, said Friday afternoon that a handful of growers still have some crop in the ground due to this week's rain. Once the sun returns, he estimated that it would take another three days or so to finish off the harvest.
This year's crop was not heavily affected by disease or insect damage, but Flannery said that this winter will be "interesting" and "challenging" for growers as they watch the stored crops in potato houses to see what, if any, effect the excessive moisture will have. The water damage could lead some of the crop to degrade in storage.
This growing season has been hampered by severe weather, including three tornadoes that went through the area in early June. Heavy rains associated with the tornadoes destroyed crops in some fields and washed away the topsoil in many. Once the topsoil is gone, the productive yield of acreage is reduced dramatically and the value of the land can plummet. Subsequent erosion created deep gullies in a number of fields, and the rain and resulting damage also suffocated seeds.
SOURCE: Bangor Daily News