Seed Potato Report 2020: Northeastern US hurt by drought
This year has brought a lot of bad with it for Americans, but one bright spot most U.S. seed potato growers can cite is good growing conditions.
Reports from around the U.S. tell of favorable conditions throughout most of the growing season, with average to above-average yields likely in the central and northwestern states. The exception is in the east, where a drought hampered farmers in Maine and New York and will likely result in less-than-desirable yields. Colorado also experienced some hiccups in terms of frost and snow.
Here are reports from the Northeastern U.S.:
The 2020 growing season was somewhat challenging with prolonged dry spells and drought conditions for the rest of the growing season up in Aroostook County. Southern and Central Maine experienced dry periods similarly. Due to these conditions, many growers experienced significant yield reductions.
Overall, the 2020 crop appears to be healthy with low virus detected and low disease levels. As of Sept. 11, the certification program has 9,393 acres field certified from 91 farms.
The top five varieties by acreage field certified for 2020 are:
- Caribou Russet (PVP) — 1,106 acres
- Atlantic — 833 acres
- Lamoka — 713 acres
- Snowden — 688 acres
- Russet Burbank (MT strain) — 635 acres
As of mid-October, inspectors were performing PCN soil sampling and were in preparation for laboratory PVY post-harvest testing. All samples will be ELISA post-harvest tested at the certification laboratory in Presque Isle.
Nancy McBrady is the Director of the Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources for the State of Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Amanda Beal is the Commissioner of the State of Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry. — Eric Hitchcock, seed certification program manager, Maine Department of Agriculture & Forestry
In 2020, seed potato acres were nearly the same as 2019 with 593 total acres inspected. We had a decent spring season leading to timely planting in most areas of the state.
Since the beginning of July, many areas of New York have been in a moderate to severe drought situation. While the dry conditions have led to a fast and uneventful harvest, yields have been below normal, with reports of 10-25% reduction in yield. Tubers are smaller than usual but quality has been good.
Lamoka represents the largest acreage entered for certification in New York, with Lady Liberty (NY152) and Waneta, the next highest acreages.
We are currently preparing samples for our winter grow out in Waialua, Hawaii, in November.
More detailed information about varieties and acres entered for certification can be found in our 2020 Potato Crop Directory available by calling New York Seed Improvement Project at 607-255-9869 or email [email protected]. — Phil Atkins, manager, New York Seed Improvement, Cornell University