PEI expects average potato crop despite weather

10/29/2013 04:15:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

The Prince Edward Island potato crop is estimated to be an average one, and after this year’s weather growers are pleased.

“We are pleasantly surprised with the size profile,” said Josh Gill, salesman for Mid Isle Farms, Albany, Prince Edward Island.

The season started out slow, like most areas of the country.

“There were delays in planting. We had a cool, wet spring, which put us eight or 10 weeks behind in some places,” said Greg Donald, general manager of the Charlottetown-based Prince Edward Island Potato Board.

After the cold, rainy start to the season, moisture levels dropped.

“We had dry weather for the latter part of July and throughout August. The Summerside, Prince Edward Island, area had less than an inch of rain in August,” Donald said.

Gary Linkletter, president and co-owner of Linkletter Farms, Summerside, said his farm experience two periods of drought this season.

“The early drought caused plants to drop tubers, and then we had another one later on,” he said.

Still, the fewer tubers allowed those that survived to grow larger.

“Fewer tubers means the ones that were there sized up, so the crop isn’t as heavy but it’s still going to good,” Linkletter said.

Gill agreed the sporadic weather may have contributed to fewer tubers, although the size profile is still average.

“We had a six-week stretch with very little rain so there are fewer tubers under each plant after the dry growing season. Still, it was a pleasant surprise to see the size profile where it is,” he said.

There also have been a few minor problems with some scab because of the dry weather, but Gill said the quality is good overall.

The weather changed again in the early fall as September brought above average rainfall again.

Though unexpected, that late season rain may have greatly helped save the crop.

“We’re very fortunate we had rain in September,” Donald said.

He said the crop should come in at an average yield with even better quality than last year.

Others agreed.

Garth Smallman, director of sales for WP Griffin Inc., Elmsdale, Prince Edward Island, said he expects a good crop.

“It looks to be very good quality and average yields,” he said.

Smallman also mentioned the late-season rain as a saving grace.

“We had a dry season with rain in late August and September to help finish out the crop,” he said. “We’re looking forward to excellent quality and the timing is about on schedule,” Smallman said.

Linkletter agreed the season should be a good one.

“Our outlook is much more positive this year,” he said.



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