All latest monthly News, News August 2020, North America, Production/Agronomy, Weather/Climate

Dry weather, dusty fields growing concern in Maine’s potato country

Potato farmers are worried about their crops as the northern part of the state experiences one of the driest summers on record, according to a report by Associated Press journalist David Sharp.

In Aroostook County, which is experiencing a severe drought, there has been no heavy rain since before Memorial Day, potentially reducing the yield, said Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board.

Instead, there have been scattered showers that have helped some farmers but have left others high and dry. “I’ve been around the potato industry for all my life, and I don’t ever remember it being this dry,” Flannery said.

The National Weather Service in Caribou reports that it could end up being the driest summer since records were kept.

There’s been only 4.94 inches of rain since June 1, which is about 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) below normal, said meteorologist Joe Hewitt. The driest summer on record was 5.6 inches in 1995.

Across the region, most of the potato plants look healthy because there’s been enough water to keep them green. But there’s not been enough water for the potatoes to grow under the surface.

Nearly a third of the acreage is irrigated, protecting them from the worst of the drought, said Dominic LaJoie, president LaJaoie Growers LLC, which has 1,600 acres (6.5 square kilometers) around Van Buren.

But it’s so dry that the ponds and wells that provide water for irrigation are drying up too, LaJoie said. And stream and river levels are also at or near record lows in the northern part of the state, Hewitt said.

The dry weather in northern Maine also stretches into New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, two potato-growing Canadian provinces.

Source: AP. Full story here
Photo: Fields are covered with flowering potato plants on Sunday, July 19, 2020, near Fort Fairfield, Maine. The vast majority of Maine’s thousands of acres of potato farms are located in Aroostook County in northern Maine, which is experiencing the driest summer on record. (AP Photo/David Sharp)

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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