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Maine potato growers turning to more drought resistant varieties, acreage expected to go up

It’s growing time for Maine potato farmers throughout the state, and many have started planting, hoping for a better season overall, reports Hannah Yechivi for News Center Maine. According to the Maine Potato Board, last year drought conditions resulted in a potato crop yield that was down 20 percent state-wide.

“We are hopeful we’ll get a little more water than we did last year,” said Mike Hart, director of sales and marketing at Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg. Maine Potato Board’s Don Flannery said the industry is working to keep growing quality spuds. “We’ve had three dry years here in Maine as it relates to the potato industry… they were dry, drier, and absolutely dry,” Flannery said.

Flannery believes this season, Maine’s potato acreage will go up. “We were down last year about 1,000 acres planted and that was due to COVID-19 and there were fewer potatoes contracted,” he said. “I think we are at a better place coming in this year and I think we will see that acreage come back.”

Maine had three dry years since 2018, and although not many potato acres are irrigated in Maine, Flannery says “we see that as a necessity going forward, risk management… not necessarily to grow a whole lot more potatoes than we’ve grown before, but managing that risk like we saw last year,” he said. Some Maine farmers are adapting by growing more drought resistant varieties like the Caribou Russet and Queen Anne.

The video below can also be watched on the News Center Maine YouTube channel here.

Source: News Center Maine. Read the full report here.

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