Oct 2, 2019Harvest update: Rain slowing progress in key potato-growing regions
A wet spring hindered potato planting efforts around the U.S. The harvest season is turning out to be quite wet, as well.
In Wisconsin, near-record levels of precipitation during September has slowed the potato harvest. Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Executive Director Tamas Houlihan said farmers in the region aren’t even halfway through harvesting their crop, so it’s too soon to speak to yields or quality.
“It’s been too wet to harvest,” Houlihan said Oct. 2 via email. “We’re probably only about 30% done, so it’s still too early to tell.”
Other potato-producing Midwest states — including Michigan, Minnesota and North Dakota — also have received a higher-than-normal level of rain this harvest season.
In Idaho, planting delays and early frosts appear to have taken a toll on yields, said Idaho Potato Commission Industry Relations Director Travis Blacker. Also, recent rain has delayed harvest work. The quality of the tubers seem above average, he added.
“Harvest has been slowed recently with rains and cold weather but I think most operations will be going again by (Oct. 1 or 2),” Blacker said. “I’m hearing pretty consistently that yields are off and size profile is somewhat smaller due to the frost episodes that we dealt with this spring and summer.
“(The) good news is quality. They look great!”
Maine potato growers experienced a dry summer, but rain has been more prominent of late, which is slowing the harvest, said Maine Potato Board Executive Director Don Flannery.
“It continues to be an interesting year — cool wet spring so late planting, hot dry summer and now cool damp start to harvest,” Flannery said. “Other than field-direct harvest, most growers got going last week but lost three days due to rain. Looks like we will get most of this week in but late start (Oct. 3) morning temp (near-frost level temperatures overnight).
“I think yields vary depending on location and variety more this year than last year. Overall, I think average when we are done.”
Flannery added he thinks the harvest will be about halfway done by the weekend of Oct. 5-6.
Red River Valley update
“Two weeks ago potato growers in the Red River Valley were very optimistic about this year’s crop, not so much anymore.
“Reality is setting in that there will be some substantial losses for many growers in the valley. The latest crop report from USDA-NASS is reporting that just 45% of the potato crop in North Dakota is harvested, a number that progressed just 9% last week. The numbers are better on the Minnesota side (68%) but still 17% behind average.”
“Nearly 8 inches of rain has fallen in the past two weeks at the NDAWN station on the NPPGA research farm just south of Grand Forks. If the forecast is correct, things could become even worse before they get better. Beginning tomorrow, rain and/or snow is in the forecast for five days straight.” — Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, Oct. 8
Stoddard Farms, Grace, Idaho, Sept. 29: