September rain may be 'too much of a good thing' for potatoes

·1 min read
Farmers are hoping the fields will have a chance to dry out before the harvest. (Cody MacKay/CBC - image credit)
Farmers are hoping the fields will have a chance to dry out before the harvest. (Cody MacKay/CBC - image credit)

With more than twice as much rain as normal for September already on P.E.I., there are some concerns it may be getting too wet for the potato crop.

Through August growing conditions had been good, said P.E.I. Potato Board general manager Greg Donald, with good heat and timely rain.

Then came record-setting rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on Sept. 2, with more than a month's worth of rain falling. There have been significant rainfalls since: 209.5 mm in the first half of the month, more than twice the average 95.9 mm for all of September.

"It's pretty soggy in places," said Donald.

Fully saturated soil or standing water in fields can ruin what's underneath, he said.

"It can literally suffocate them, you know, in severe cases, but also you can get spoilage," said Donald.

If things don't dry out before harvest farmers will take special precautions with the crop from wetter parts of their fields. The wet potatoes will not store as well. If the crop is grown for processors they may send off those potatoes first. If they are storing them they might keep them apart from other potatoes to prevent any rot from spreading.

Ideally sunny weather to end September will give fields a chance to dry out, said Donald. Some warm days and cool nights will help particularly with later maturing varieties, and give them more opportunity to bulk up.

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