Dry weather causing issues for potatoes

Ryan Quigley
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[Summerside, PEI]- Though the rain was an unwelcome site for some (Prince Edward) Islanders looking to get outdoors this weekend, (Aug. 11-12) the province’s potato farmers were happy to see it.

Potatoes from Linkletter Farms field in Miscouche, Prince Edward Island.

A dry summer has seen only 86.9 mm of rain between June 1 and Aug. 12, according to the National Climate and Data Information Archive.

Gary Linkletter, chair of P.E.I. Potato Board and president of Linkletter Farms, said, though this weekend’s downpour was helpful, they need more rain.

“It’ll see us through a few more days and hopefully get some rain next weekend again,” he said. “We missed that rain a week ago that was forecast and that tipped the balance. We got some fields that yellowed up quite a bit after last week and did some damage.”

Linkletter said after last week, some fields could be 30 per cent off their yield potential.

“Our goldrush fields took a big hit last week. They’ve probably lost 20 to 30 per cent of their crop at this point.”

Regular rains to finish the season would help out a lot, he said.

“I would like to see 40 or 50 mm over the weekend timeframe,” he said. “We’re so dry the grounds got a lot of capacity to absorb water right now.”

If the summer’s dry weather continues, more damage could come, said Linkletter.

“On the regular table stock varieties, if it kept up as dry as it has been, we’re looking two-thirds for crop. On the burbanks and processing potatoes, they are a little tougher; we might get 70 or 80 per cent of the crop.”

In the eastern end of the Island, Linkletter said there have been issues too.

“Some fields down there, superior wise, are way off their yield potential,” he said. “They say round white chefs, a product shipped out of the east end quite a bit most winters, are going to be in short supply this winter because the plants just didn’t grow. They died, they’re done.”

“Some fields are holding reasonably well, some are just going down plain and simple.”

Journal Pioneer

Organizations: P.E.I. Potato Board

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