Nov 8, 2018
Wisconsin potato crop facing 12 percent decline after wet year

It’s been a wet year for many parts of the eastern United States, where numerous regions are approaching record precipitation numbers.

One state that’s experienced a much higher-than-normal amount of snow and rainfall is Wisconsin, the third-largest potato-producing state after Idaho and Washington.

Tamas Houlihan, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, said the effects have been felt.

“We had serious potato crop issues based on the excessive rainfall, particularly in late August and early September, right before the most intensive harvest season,” Houlihan said. “We also had a 2-foot snowfall on April 15, which is the typical start date for potato planting in central and south-central Wisconsin. This caused a two-week delay in planting this year’s crop.”

Houlihan added that spring and late-summer rains drowned out portions of the crop. The wet soil also delayed the harvest for many growers, which left the crop susceptible to frost.

In addition, lenticel has been a problem this year, which increases the chances for storage rot, as have “green heads.”

“The rains washed down the potato hills, exposing the tubers to sunlight,” he said. “Tubers exposed to sunlight turn green, making them unmarketable.”

Overall, Wisconsin’s potato crop is facing a 12 percent reduction, Houlihan said. Wisconsin produced 28,475 cwts in 2017.

“I really don’t think we’ll see residual effects next year, other than on the crop in storage,” Houlihan said, “but the damage was done this year.”

For more on the 2018 harvest season, click here.

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