Cultivation/Production, North America, Weather/Climate

Heat takes toll on Columbia Basin spud harvest

While potato farmers in the Columbia Basin could call on all the water they needed during this year’s drought, the heat still posed risks and has left its mark on this year’s potato crop, reports Charles H Featherstone for the Columbia Basin Herald.

“Yield is down, and quality is also down,” said Adam Weber of Weber Farms near Quincy. He said the heat was to blame for the drop in yields and quality. “It’s 10% down, though it varies with varieties,” he said. “I would say they kind of shut down during the heat cycle and they weren’t growing as much.”

According to Mark Pavek, a professor of potato research with Washington State University Extension, potato plants struggle to keep producing tubers when it’s too hot. He said in the kind of temperatures the Columbia Basin experienced this summer — as high as 115 degrees in and around Moses Lake — the potatoes at greatest risk of being damaged are those closest to the surface.

Pavek said because so many potatoes are going straight into storage, and will stay there for up to a year, it will be difficult to determine just how badly the sustained summer heat has affected the 2021 potato crop.

Source: Columbia Basin Herald. Read the full story here
Photo: Courtesy Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald

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