Maine Potato Growers Thrilled with This Year's Crop

Published online: Nov 03, 2021 Articles Tom Karst
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Source: The Packer

Potato industry leaders believe 2021 will prove to be a vintage year for Maine potatoes.

“The 2021-22 Maine potato crop yield is definitely above average,” said Bob Davis, vice president of Maine Farmers Exchange, Presque Isle. “After suffering through three years of drought we were blessed with an early planting season and good weather.”

Many growers enjoyed a good growing season and put away great quality potatoes in storage, said Ken Gad, president of Presque Isle-based Cambridge Farms

The Maine crop was harvested and stored in mid-October with great quality potatoes in storage, said Mike Hart, director of sales and marketing for Fryeburg, Maine-based Green Thumb Farms Inc.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome of all the varieties that we raised, and we feel like it’s going to be a good year for us, marketing wise,” Hart said.

One industry observer put fresh-market acreage in the state at 12,00 to 15,000 acres out of close to 50,000 acres of potatoes grown in the state. While some parts of the state received less water than others, most growers experienced larger than average yields, Davis said. 

“Quality of the crop going into storage is very good.” 

Davis said the harvest season for Maine Farmers Exchange began the third week of September with great weather, followed by four inches of rain the fourth week of September. 

“That rain gave us almost eight inches of rain for the month of September. After that we had ideal weather and the crop went into storage with no problems.”

Davis said that good quality bodes well for sales this year.

“There will be ups and downs due to weather and transportation, but that is not out of the ordinary,” he said. “With a larger than average crop we will have potatoes available well into April and May.” 

Davis said the state’s potato suppliers are in great position as an industry.

“We have a great opportunity as an industry here in Maine to expand our sales,” Davis said. “With the cost of transportation going higher each year we see we have the advantage of being eight to 16 hours from one third of the nation’s population.” 

Maine potato growers produce great-tasting and great-looking russets, round whites, reds and yellow potatoes, he said. 

“We can even mix them on trucks and deliver overnight,” Davis said. “This is true for our fresh refrigerated products like mashed and diced potatoes as well as frozen products. I believe this availability will help drive change in the next few years.”